Being a parent at any age is tough. But tack on a few extra years (or even a decade or two), and being a parent of a certain, shall we say more advanced age might make you want to crawl under the covers. Thing is, more and more people are delaying parenthood until they’re well into their 40s (and 50s). So what’s it really like to be an older mom?
Well, we went straight to the source to find out. These moms all volunteered to talk about the good, the bad, (and yes, the beautiful) aspects of being an older parent. Sure, they’re tired, and running around after a toddler all day might make you hit the Tylenol at night when you’re tuckered out. But for these older mommas, age is only a number, and they wouldn’t change any of it at all.
Here’s what it’s really like to be an older mom:
Carolyn, age 68
2 children, ages 30 and 20
“Our second daughter was adopted when I was 48 and my husband was 45. Both of our daughters are adopted from birth and came to us straight from the hospital. When people came to visit the new baby they would commit on how much younger I looked. Having a baby in your 40’s can make you feel younger and evidently appear younger as well. There were times when people asked if I was the grandmother (which pretty much infuriated me). Most of the time I would say to them “Wouldn’t it be better to ask if I’m the mom? Then if I WAS the grandmother you’ve given me a great compliment and made me feel younger.” That of course, fell on deaf ears.
Yes, it was difficult in elementary school when some of the moms were young enough to be my daughter. But it never affected my desire to pitch in and do things and make sure she was present for school events. She was an “old soul” in many ways, so we really did fit together. I used to call her “my comic relief” for reasons that would be a whole other story.
In my early 50’s I was going through menopause with a young pre-school child and a teen ager. And yes I took estrogen and never revealed my age to anyone. One of her preschool teachers said she was doing really well with all her colors except the color “grey”. I promptly told the teacher that grey was a color we never talked about.
I’ve tried not to think about not being around for them. That’s just doom and gloom! I have tried to stay active and fast walk as often as I can – easier to do in cooler weather. I am no longer working but stay very busy and always figuring out something to do. My youngest daughter is my movie buddy, my “let’s go get some coffee” buddy and comes over once or twice a week to hang out and spend a night. I love our relationship and I wouldn’t change the age difference for a minute. I do like to joke about my age. When she was a senior in high school, I announced to her “Hey, we’re both seniors!!”
Bottom line, I love being a mom and age makes no difference.”
1 child, age 3
“Our daughter Eloise is 3 years old and we adopted her at birth.
It’s been an amazing experience and so glad I waited until I was older.
Both my husband and I are able to be more present for her and give her everything she needs mentally and emotionally. When I was younger and building my career I don’t think I was ready to give my all.
It is quite humorous though when we are at swim lessons, or dance class and the teacher says oh it’s nice you brought your grandparents along…yes that happens A LOT!
As older parents we have experienced more in life, we have traveled the world, and I feel we are more emotionally prepared. Our life is about Eloise now. I don’t see that as much when I am around some of the younger parents. They are in a different stage of their life.
We don’t worry about having more time I think we will probably spend more time in the long run with us being older parents. My husband retires soon and will be able to spend all the time in the world with Eloise.
The only time I feel like I’m an older parent is when I get tired…haha!
I am so grateful to be a parent at my age. I would never go back and change a thing.”
1 child, 13
“I’m an avid runner, hiker, cyclist, and kayaker, but I’m vain enough that when I’m in a meeting with all the other parents in my classroom, I look with longing at the unlined faces of the mothers around me. I just know they‘re not reaching for the Advil after they run five miles. Oh, and they’re gorgeous . . . while I look like I’m, well, 50.
But . . . I’m glad I’m older, for my daughter’s sake. I wasn’t mentally or emotionally fit to parent anyone at age 30. My husband and I adopted our daughter when I was 38; I was just beginning to attain the kind of balance and wisdom that I rely on now as we’ve entered the teen years. I remain in terrific physical and mental shape so that I can play and learn right alongside her, and I must admit that unless I’m surrounded by the beautiful young mothers of her classmates, I don’t feel like an older parent.”
Rosie, age 50
2 children, ages 10 and 6
“I was 43 when my little girl, 2 years old, begged for a baby brother. It crushed me because of years infertility and 2 miscarriages I believed that time had passed.
On her 3rd birthday she blew out candles and with all her might wished for a baby brother. 10 days later I was pregnant!
My son was born when I was 44 years old. She jumped up and down with joy when she got see him – her big wish!
How does it feel? Well, besides the obvious, I’m totally grateful. There was a time when I thought it wasn’t going to happen for me.
Baby and Toddler years were exhausting. I could see why the 20’s and 30’s are better suited for you physically. But I loved that I knew who I was as Rosie, before discovering myself as a mother. I am not lost in motherhood, it doesn’t define me.. It brings a beautiful, adventurous thing to my life.
I do FEEL like and older parent but not in a way that bothers me. I love what we can offer our kids. But mostly – it is, what it is. There are moments though when my kids point out my gray hair that I wish I was decade younger, but just for about 10 seconds.
I think what makes me a bit sad though is thinking about the future, when they are young adults. I want them to enjoy independence as adults without worrying about aging parents.
But it motivates me to take good care of myself so I can be a “frisky” 60 year old. Is using the word frisky showing my age?”
Amy Klein, age 48
Author of The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment and Get Pregnant Without Losing Your Mind
1 daughter, age 4
“I did not meet my husband until I was 39.5 and we didn’t get married till I was just 41. I got pregnant right away — I still would have been an older mom, but I had four miscarriages over the next three years and so I didn’t have my daughter till I was 44. Did you know that the only increasing group in birth statistics are women over 40 (and over 44?)
As someone who started at 41 and then went through three years of fertility treatment and miscarriages, I was always conscious of the ticking clock and how I was getting older, like “if X treatment worked, I would be 42 by the time my first child is born.” But truthfully, age didn’t matter once I finally had my daughter at 44. Yes, I was tired, yes I was sleepless, but aren’t all new moms? Since I live in NYC, I am around so many moms in their late 30s and early 40s. I don’t look or feel different than them. As an older mom I’m more conscious of my health and fitness — I have to stay healthy and fit for my daughter. While I wish she were born a few years earlier at 41 (without all the infertility), I know I couldn’t have been a good mom at 25, 30, or even 35.
I would have felt a loss of identity, overwhelmed, and probably not a calm mom. As an older mom, I know who I am, what my relationship is, and what I want for my daughter.”
Iris, age 65
1 daughter, age 19
“I had my daughter when I was 45 years old. Here is my perspective:
- You are older and wiser and have a better ability to handle stress and challenges that come with being a new parent.
- I was more financially stable than we were in our 20’s.
- I had a well-established community of family and friends to help support me.
- I had achieved a lot of our life goals both personally and professionally prior to having my daughter.
- I believe having a daughter later made me a better parent because I was more patient, thoughtful, and didn’t get thrown when something unexpected happened. I had a healthier life perspective.
- I had my daughter through infertility treatment. She was really wanted and I was so grateful to become a parent.
- You move a little slower and have less energy when you are in your 40’s as opposed to 20’s.
- It is harder to find older parents to connect with. I had to go to RESOLVE to find parents who were my age and they became life long friends.”
Linda, age 56
3 children, songs ages 17, 16, 9
“Our third son came along when I was 46. No, it was not planned that way! Our first two were born when I was 38 and 39 (two months shy of 40). And at the time, I thought, whew! Done before I turn the big 4-0! My husband is three-and-a-half years younger.
Cooper is now nine, a third-grader, and I’m about to turn 56; Denny is now 52. It feels harder to find a good fit with adult friends. Everyone else my age is an empty nester, watching their kids graduate from college, start careers, get married, have adventures. Then the adults have so much free time on their hands to travel, enjoy leisurely dinners out, etc. No babysitter to pay, no school and activity schedules to juggle. Freedom. (Yes, my husband and I had that in our 30s, when we got to be the fun aunt and uncle or favorite babysitter for our friends’ children!)
With lifelong friends, it’s no issue – but my dearest besties don’t live around here. It feels like Iowa doesn’t have as many older parents like us as we might find in larger urban areas. When Cooper was younger, I especially noticed that when taking him to Sunday school at church, all the parents of children his age seemed to be younger than 30! I do remember Mariska Hargitay and Kellie Preston having children around the same time, at my age, so I knew there were others out there – just not around me.
I don’t feel any older, per se. I do think about what it will be like to watch Cooper graduate from high school when I’m 65 years old and ready for Medicare! Yikes. So I color my hair and try to stay current in all things. I even finished my master’s degree from University of Iowa last year – one class at a time was all I could manage, but I finished! I also plan on working until I’m at least 70 since he’ll just be graduating from college. (Another yikes!)
I feel more connected to the millenial women I work with, because I understand their child care struggles and the difficulty of the juggling act. Hopefully that makes me a more understanding boss and mentor.
Our parenting is a bit different. If you asked the older two (now 17 and 16, junior and sophomore in high school), they’d tell you Cooper is spoiled and we’ve been waaaaaay easier on him than we were on them. HA! We would say we’re probably more relaxed and that the discrepancies they see come from him having older brothers, not necessarily older parents. He’s exposed to music, movies, computer games that we didn’t have to fight to keep away from them. But he says what they’re interested in at their ages and wants to emulate them. So that’s a little tougher.”
Steph, age 44
5 children ages 6, 4 , 3, and 2 year-old twins
“My youngest twins just turned 2 a few days ago and when I’m out with them I can see people look puzzled about my relationship to them. I can literally see strangers calculate whether I’m the parent or the grandmother. The look strangers give me is new, and obviously because I’m getting older. When I’m out with just my 6 year old I never get that oddly puzzled look.
I live in West Los Angeles where IVF is practically the norm because of so many older parents, so I haven’t been the oldest mother in a school class yet but I’ve been close! When my youngest twins enter kindergarten I will be 47, likely the oldest kindergarten mom. I’m not self-conscious about it per se, but I worry that they will eventually notice they have an “old mommy”.
I don’t regret waiting to have kids. I was a mess from my mid 20’s to mid 30’s. I would definitely not been equipped to be a parent if I hadn’t waited.
Yes, I’m very aware that there is little chance my grandkids will know me. I’ve done a regular video project for my children (and their children) where I explain who I am, what’s important to me, how I see and relate to my kids, what my hopes for them are, and how I will miss being there for them when they are in my position (parents with young kids). I also try to “predict the future” which is fun and I’m pretty sure they will find this part hilarious when watched 20 or 30 years from now.
Because I’m an older parent, I’m far less anxious than any younger parent I know. I still remember running wild as a kid around the neighborhood, which isn’t a memory a 20 year old mom would have. I’ve also done nearly all my bucket list so I’m not resentful of being “slowed down” by kids. And, honestly, I’ve had a great career so I have resources for nannies and domestic help. I wouldn’t have had these resources if I had children earlier.
My kids miss out on having cousins their own age (the closest cousin is 18 years old).
Because I’m an older parent, my focus is on staying healthy, mentally and physically. I don’t exercise to look good in a bikini because I haven’t rocked a bikini in a decade! I exercise to stay healthy for my kids. Unlike younger parents, I take a holistic view to wellness and I’m very proactive about health screenings. I’m also very proactive about botox! I’ve recently had my eyelids done and part of the motivation was certainly looking more like a mom and less like a granny.
We are currently living in Bali, Indonesia. I’m able to take this sabbatical because I’m “semi-retired” and I want to focus on spending quality time with my kids while they are young and while I’m still healthy.
1 son, age 10
“I was physically fit and “looked” ten years younger at 41 But I gained a lot of weight (60 lbs) when I was pregnant and had a very difficult pregnancy. I had lost a preterm baby at 39 and got pregnant quickly after to stem the loss. When my son started to walk , I had no energy to chase after him. I would lie on the sofa and watch him run back and forth. I realized I had to do something as I did not want to be the old lady Mom. So I started running and joined a running club. By the time he was 2 I was running races with him and the club. I kept up physically by going to the gym and became a yoga instructor doing lots of yoga throughout my 40s. Between 42 and 49 I was physically fit and felt great. But hitting 50 has been tough.
Although my son thinks I am 35, on the outside & I feel that I look young. But hitting 50 my health took a nose dive! My body told me I was getting older. Menopause has been shocking and the lack of energy and dark moods has been very challenging. In addition I can no longer run because my discs in my back started to erode.
I am determined to not grow old so in the last 6 months I started doing karate with my son which has helped a great deal and I am feeling my energy coming back which helps me be able to keep up.
I do hide my age from him and he takes great pride in thinking that I am young. When he was born I started thinking about my mortality more and because I had such a difficult pregnancy I worried that I may not live long enough. So I pray every day that I can be around to see him have kids. I want to be his mentor because I feel that I am the best person to do that for him. Because I am more aware of my mortality and because I had a full life and job before having him I feel that I must be very present in his life – I attend everything! I even decided to home school this year because he was not happy in the public school system.
He comes with me every where and we travel together when I go overseas. I know that there are comments sometimes, but I know that he has learned so much from me and I want him to learn as much more on how to take care of himself & be independent- because I am an older mom. In the last 2 years I have had to step back from my business and consulting so that I can be present to make sure he is progressing in his academics. I have guilt sometimes about my business and not making enough money but I am very aware that the next 6 years are very crucial for him and his goals of becoming an engineer and a pilot. So I have no problem scaling back work so that my family comes first.
The pros of being an older parent – wisdom and lots of patience, and the cons are the lack of energy and the time to spend more time on my self. I am working on making sure that I can keep physically healthy and scheduling time to work out and eat healthier and get sleep
I often wonder what it would have been like to be a younger parent but I don’t dwell on it too much.”
Candy, age 44
1 son, age 4
I’m 44 with a 4 year old and it’s killing me! Just kidding. But really being an older parent is rough. So rough that I started a blog about it so I could complain in a productive manner – GeekMamas.com
We struggled with infertility for 7 years before turning to IVF so that’s why I’m an older mom. All my friends with kids the same age are about 10 years younger.
I feel like being an older parent definitely has some benefits- we are stable family, with established careers and a nice house in a good neighborhood. I can’t imagine having a child in our 20s when we were struggling to find our footing, living paycheck to paycheck and trying to buy our first home.
I do sometimes worry about the next 10 years, when we get older and really start to be the “older parents.” My husband is about to retire while some of my friends are just getting their careers going. I’m tired, my body hurts and things are starting to fall apart. Toddlers are hard to keep up with! Some days I’m not sure if he’s keeping me young or aging me more rapidly. I never had grey hairs until I had a child, but before that I actually had time to dye my hair all the time so maybe I just didn’t know.
One of the drawbacks of starting so late is that I can’t imagine having another one. While my friends in their 30s are on their 2nd or toying with the idea, it’s just not going to happen for me without a lot of medical intervention and I think it would just be too hard on my body and mind at this point. I’m happy with the one we have!
Kamela, age 44
2 children, ages 6 and 8
“I’m the intentional older parent of two children under the age of eight.
I spent my late-twenties and thirties focused on my health and fitness so that when I finally made the commitment to have children closer to my 40s that I would have the physical energy to do just that. I have never been ashamed of my age and now that I’m moving closer to forty-five my health even enables me to be open to having a third child, if that happens for me.
As I’m currently a single-mom that also founded and runs my own business, I still make health a huge priority in my life because for me a great yoga class has always done more for me than a glass of wine. I should also explain that health for me includes fitness daily, at home or the gym, and eating real food cooked at home, which directly impacts my children’s life as well. I want to be the role model of wellness to my kids and have memories of mom working out or cooking at home.
I have chosen to have kids later in life and knowing that I made those choices has led to a personal mental shift that this process was my choice and that also gives me freedom and peace that to know that I create the journey of my life-even with kids on board. I admit, some days, I’m like do I have energy to manage this all and on those days I make sure that I do something relaxed. I give myself permission to relax, watch a movie, read a book, and enjoy the journey-with kids.
I couldn’t speak more loudly about the benefits of having kids as a older parent. I even find that more and more parents that I meet on the playground, at groceries stores, or even at theme parks are older parents. My goal on the road ahead to keep the wellness going as I want to live a long, long, long so that I can witness some of the important milestones of my children’s adult lives.”