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I’ve ceased to question the unrivaled perspicacity of children. Instead, I’ve simply learned to accept the wonder that it exists—like the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Yesterday, 4-year-old Lizzie clambered into my lap, threw her arms around my neck in a tight squeeze and whispered fiercely: “I’m going to keep you, mommy. Even when I grow up, I want to keep you!”
I felt a sudden pang of guilt. Would I be here for her to ‘keep’ when she grew up?
I pulled her gently away from me—just far enough to peer deeply into her guileless hazel eyes. Then I attempted, just as fiercely, to drink in the moment, to ‘take a picture,’ to irrevocably brand her image on my brain so that it would rest there forever, despite the inevitable and unforgiving passage of time ahead.
What I wouldn’t give for God’s promise that I will be there for her future debut on the world’s stage as an adult—to be ‘kept’ for her, until she is a ‘grown-up.’
For all of my certainty that it is our right as the mother of the human species to bear progeny, no matter what our age, sometimes I falter:
Where is the wisdom in later life motherhood?
And when I falter, I talk to a lady I’ve personally awarded the title, the ‘Queen of Common Sense’—over-40 mom, former childbirth educator and founder of InSeason Mom (http://www NULL.inseasonmom NULL.org/), Cynthia Wilson-James from South Carolina.
Wilson-James—who gave birth at 42 and 44 to her now 8 and 6-year-old daughters, aptly named Faith and Jewel—believes that there is a ‘season’ for everything in our lives, especially motherhood.
And if that season happens to fall in the autumn of a woman’s life, then it’s all according to God’s plan.
In getting to know Cynthia, I’ve begun to realize that there’s far more substance to her than being a ‘seasoned’ mother after 40. She’s the sort of gal you turn to for voting advice when the Republicans and Democrats are so deadlocked into strangling each other that you can’t see the road ahead between them.
In short, she’s grounded—and I expect that’s probably a prerequisite for her current role as a high school career counselor.
True to form, her take on the differences between older and younger mothers—and the ‘keeping’ of our children as they grow up—is reassuring.
“One mistake that younger moms make is not appreciating the gift of time with their children,” says Cynthia Wilson-James.
“It s hard to tell a twenty-something mom to treasure every moment she has with her child because life holds no guarantees that she will see the child s next birthday.”
Despite the fact that younger mothers benefit from few health concerns, Wilson-James feels that mothers over 40 are more likely to savor the moments with their children for the very reason that they’ve stared mortality in the eye.
With strong roots in her spiritual faith, she also embraces the humility that tempers us through age and experience engenders more parenting wisdom.
“I am a better parent now than I would have been at a younger age,” Cynthia admits, “because life has humbled me and I am less judgmental and more grateful.”
“As an older mom, I am able to pass on wisdom that only comes with experience and age.”
To prove the point, she recounts a recent experience with one of her daughters:
“Just the other day, I learned from my six-year old that one of the life lessons that I passed on to her helped when dealing with a mean classmate.”
“I beamed with pride when she said: ‘You warned me about this mommy!’”
It begs the question: how do we weigh the importance of being a wise teacher against the resilience of youth?
Young mothers may potentially live longer, but they can be blissfully ignorant or hopelessly naïve—however you want to slice it. I wouldn’t have wanted me as a parent in my twenties.
Wilson-James also feels better off as a parent later in life: “During my twenties and thirties, I often taught the children of family and friends that I babysat everything from songs to games and I taught bible school to preschoolers.” she recalls.
“However, as I have grown older, I still teach my own children, but I also listen and learn from them, which is as important—I’m more balanced.”
She emphasizes that most older mothers are better prepared mentally to deal with young children.
“We aren’t trying to move up in our careers or blaming our kids for keeping us from hanging out with our friends,” she says.
Given her views, you’d think Cynthia Wilson-James would lead the march in favor of women having children at any age with a bible-thumping zealotry, wouldn’t you?
Well, that’s where you’re in for a unique ‘Cynthia’ surprise.
“I do not advocate every woman should wait until she is over 40 to have a baby any more than I advocate all women should have children,” she argues.
“I strongly believe there is a season for everything in life, including giving birth.”
“Your season is not determined by when I think or when anyone else thinks you should give birth. I believe only God makes that decision.”
Amen, Cynthia. And may God ‘keep’ us all here to watch over our children as they grow up.
Notes for this blog:
For Cynthia’s resource website on later life motherhood, click here: http://www.inseasonmom.org/ (http://www NULL.inseasonmom NULL.org/)
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