Mommy Mavericks

In the latest issue of More magazine, the following letter-to-the-editor was written in response to an article titled Midlife Mommy Debate in a previous issue, which was about women in their 40s and 50’s becoming new moms.

These women are incredibly selfish. I was raised by older parents whom I loved dearly. When I was born, my father was 52 and my mother was 45. I lost my father while I was in my twenties (he was 78) and my mother (then 84) in my thirties. After my mother suffered a stroke, I spent the first few years of my marriage taking care of her – and my toddler. My mother died four days after I gave birth to my second child, and I had a heart attack before the funeral. Do these ‘Mommy Mavericks’ realize how sad it is that their children’s children will never know them? ~ Martha          

I know that as a parent, I have a mountain of responsibilities to my two children, but not once did anyone ever tell me or imply that one of them is to make sure I live long enough for my grandchildren to get to know me.

When I was born, only two of my four grandparents were still living – both grandfathers. My paternal grandfather died when I was an infant. The other grandfather, my mom’s dad, I remember distinctly because he had only one hand and when he let me sit on his lap while driving the tractor, he would hold me with his good arm and steer with the hook he had on the other. He always brought us candy when he stopped by the house. Sadly, he died when I was very young as well.

I’ve written before how my husband and I are “Latecomers” as we had our first when I was 34 and our second after years of infertility treatment at 41. My husband turned 45 a couple months before her birth. Let’s say for the sake of argument that our kids will be in their 30’s before having children; and then add in the factor of when children retain a lot of their memories – say 10, that will put us in our 80s. If we’re lucky.

While I hope that I convey to my children that they should have their children only when they are absolutely ready, I know that I may also find there are times it will be tempting to warn them not to wait as long as we did. In fact, I hear my husband say in different conversations how if he was able to do it again, he would not have waited to try to have children. That being said, I think it would be irresponsible and SELFISH to guilt my children into starting a family just to make sure my grandchildren know who I am.

Getting to know my grandparents had nothing to do with how much time I got to spend with them. It’s how their memories and their spirits are kept alive long after they’re gone. I pray that my children love and respect us enough to do the same.

Once I got over the flash of anger with Martha calling me and others like me selfish, I pitied her. She obviously feels that the first precious years of becoming a mother were diminished her own mother’s illness. She states it’s sad that my grandchildren will never get to “know” me, but I think it’s a tragedy that her children will have the memory of their grandmother tarnished by their mother’s bitterness, which really? Has nothing to do with the fact that she was born to elderly parents.

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This was the post I used in the Cross Pollination – edited a wee bit since of course I find the grammatical errors only when I see it via my reader and never in draft.