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In the fall of 2012, I will be fifty-two, my son ten, and my daughter seven years old. Lately, I’ve been waking up at the crack of dawn to roll over to my husband and say: “Whose idea was this, anyway?”
Yesterday, as if to salt the wound, he emailed me a photo he happened to find in his computer archives. In it, I was forty-three—looking fresh as a daisy—while cradling my first-born in my arms. I stared back into my own gleeful eyes and whispered: “Man, little did you know what you were in for!”
Today, any woman in her early forties looks like lush Venus rising from her clam shell, compared to what I’m seeing in the mirror a decade on. She still has a hormonal spring in her cheeks, while blissfully unaware of the parenting and aging hurdles that lie ahead.
The fact is, no woman can predict what sort of surprises Mother Nature has in store at the bottom of the menopausal Cracker Jack box. In my case, it was like suddenly strapping on a fat suit, even though my diet had hardly changed.
If you’re petite, like I am, a fat suits means sore ankles, joint stiffness, compounded with a heapin’ helpin’ of low self-esteem every time you have the misfortune to streak past a looking glass.
The cure lies in enough salads and supplements to make a rabbit high on bliss. That, and unrelenting daily visits to the gym, eight hours of sleep a night, garnished with as little stress as possible.
Try that with two strong-willed children on the verge of Tweenhood and over-scheduled to the hilt.
Our child psych expert, Dr. Saposnek will tell you that, for many, over-scheduling children is a way of “keeping up with the Joneses” and can be hard on families. He also says that later mothers are less likely to cave in to demand.
In my case, it’s two children who know what they want, have a natural proclivity to flout any influence that vaguely resembles authority–all juiced up on such an abundance of energy that it leaves me salivating. They can’t be doing enough.
Of course, an unforgiving public will stare at me and my children and think: “poor parenting skills”. This may be, in good part, true. I first lost my mother at four-and-a-half years old, and often find myself grasping at straws as to what this job entails exactly.
However, lest we forget, in the mad rush to create children in our forties—along with all of the fertility fears it generates—let me remind all that the type of personality our children are born with is a genetic crap-shoot.
My nine-year-old son is a Libra—for what that’s worth—and is extremely sensitive to what he perceives as the slightest injustice. My six-year-old daughter is gifted to the level of genius and thinks that entitles her to stamp her foot and refuse to be educated.
Of course, on any occasion our children tend to be different from the status quo, in a manner anything but pleasing, parents are likely to get out the guilt stick and start beating themselves. To this, I’m no exception.
Lately, I’ve begun to take comfort in reading books on discipline, parental coaching, and coping with strong-willed kids. Often, I find there’s more comfort in just knowing that there are enough parents out there flailing, out of their depth, in the psyche of The Mystic Child, to generate such a plethora of books.
I am not alone on my journey.
Still, I must also find a way to shore up the flood of middle-aged spread, sup from the grail of health and long life, and scoff at the notion that this is merely the easy part. The shoals of Tweenhood lie ahead.
Notes on this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom.com—The Truth About Motherhood After 40(www.flowerpowermom.com), featuring commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40. She actively advocates for more supportive attitudes towards women having children in midlife and to raise awareness of the real issues related to later life motherhood.
Angel also hosts “A Child After 40”, an online community to empower all women on the journey of motherhood after 40. To join, go to: https://achildafter40.com/a-child-after-40-online/
Angel gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally. For her full story, go to:https://achildafter40.com/my-story/
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