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.

**************************

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.

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8 thoughts on “Mommy Mavericks”

  1. I was born when my mom was 31 and my dad was 37. His mother had already died by that point and my mother’s mom had gone through not one but two husbands by then. My paternal grandfather died when I was about 8 I think. But the reality is, we didn’t live near any of our family so, not to sound heartless, it didn’t really matter to me. I had met my grandfather a handful of times tops. My grandmother only died a couple years ago but I saw her only 5 or 6 times total and hadn’t seen her at all since I became an adult. We just weren’t raised to have a close relationship with them. It’s like that with all our extended family, so I never think of having kids in terms of grandparents. Especially given that one niece is 19 or 20 the other 14 and the nephew is 22, my kids won’t really know these people anyway since they won’t be in the same age brackets at all.

    I think it would be MORE selfish to have kids when you weren’t financially, emotionally, etc ready than waiting until you were.

  2. My grandfather was born in 1899 – my child (his great grandchild) was born in 2003. Yes, he never met her – but so what?

    I think that Martha is reacting to her stress surrounding her mother’s stroke and how that impinged on her own life. But that kind of stroke could have happened to a 30 year old: witness Anissa.

  3. Here’s the thing: Anyone that has children IS selfish. There is absolutely no unselfish reason to have kids. None. We are basically all animals. Have you seen another woman breastfeed? Or just look in the mirror while you’re doing it. We are like cows with udders. We have a survival instinct as a species. There is nothing more selfish than genetic (or nature’s) prerogative. So whether people have kids in their 20s, 30s or 40s… we’re all the same. And besides, lots of people die young too. So is this Martha woman going to tell everyone they should have genetic testing just in case they ‘abandon’ their kid too young? Give me a break.

  4. The Chieftain was born 3 months before my 40th birthday. My 41st has slipped by with no sign of FET 2009 in the picture. And now, it’s looking like FET 2010 may not happen before my 42nd due to money issues. I don’t know, maybe a miracle will occur (‘ve had one period in almost 3 years, so it’s not going to be that kind of miracle).

    As for being older parents, hell yeah we wish we could have had a baby when we were younger, but, y’know, when your body needs help and you don’t get it…shrug.

  5. I am the product of a 40 year old mother and 47 year old father (he was an ass, but that had nothing to do with his age) and not for one minute do I wish my mom had me when she was younger. Okay, when I was in middle school she mortified me, but my friends with young “hip” moms were mortified too.

    I lost my mom when my sons were 17 months old and 6 weeks old and even though they have NO recollection of her, they “know” her because I have talked about her so much, and never with anger or resentment. What kind of lesson would that be for them anyway? Old people are not worthy?

    I became a mother for the last time when I was almost 39. Would I do it again? Without hesitation.

  6. I’m in a different position, having known several of my great-grandparents. But I don’t think it’s thee quantity of relations with older relatives that matters, but the quality. And memories handed down count for a lot, too.

  7. I was going to laugh that you’re older than I am, but I had my first (and looking like only) at 37….and I wouldn’t change a thing.

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