We spent the first decade of our marriage trying to achieve pregnancy. We became foster parents in our early 30’s. Much to our delight we had the opportunity to adopt after having fostered 3 years. Over the next decade we had adopted seven children. Two were individual adoptions, one was a sibling group of two and another a sibling group of three. All of our children came to us as foster children before they became our forever children. Several were older-child adoptions.
Somewhere along the way, I decided I would not be more than 40 years older than any of my children. I’m not sure where that age came from. Our youngest child slipped in under the wire as he was born the month before I turned 41. I hope you all know that I would have never truly let my age be the determining factor but, it was indeed a consideration.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this new trend of older parenting and what it means to those of us who have by birth or adoption, children later in life. There are some advantages and some disadvantages. The problem with considering those is if we aren’t careful we can develop this sort of grading system that while trying to make ourselves feel capable may make another parent feel incapable.
One obvious advantage for me was that I’ve mellowed a lot. I’ve lived longer and experienced more. I’ve learned a bit about what really matters and what doesn’t matter much in the long run. However, this does not mean for one moment that a young mom can’t make wise choices. She certainly can.
We don’t have to dismiss the abilities of those who are what we aren’t in order to validate ourselves. If you are a young momma, don’t assume an older momma can’t be spontaneous and fun. If you are an older momma, don’t assume that a younger momma can’t be sensible and responsible.
Here is what I believe with all my heart and soul. I became a mother exactly when I was suppose to and so did you. God had/has a plan for my life and for my children’s. He has one for you and yours as well. We can’t be spending our time trying to figure out which age is/was best to parent, we are too busy parenting. Instead we should be each others greatest cheerleaders and strongest supporters. Celebrate each other and draw strength from the differences that could divide us.
A couple of years ago I implemented a program into the women’s ministry of the church we attended. My theme was ‘Ages and Stages – We can Relate’. I still feel so strongly about this concept. Too often in society as well as in our churches, we are divided into age groups and separated from those who can truly relate to what we are facing.
The younger moms in my circle of friends challenge me to try new things and are a valuable resource in my life. Sometimes I think just being in their presence energizes me. I hope that I am a valuable resource in their lives as well as I’m able to share my experiences from walking just before them down the same path. Parenting is a journey like no other, no matter what age you are. Knowing we are not alone gives us courage.
In my life, the next decade of discoveries and adventures has begun. While many of my friends who are my age are seeing their babies starting college (as are my oldest two), my babies are still in elementary school. Some days they remind me of how old I am with their constant activity and limitless energy but, most days, they keep me young as I am blessed to view the world through their eager eyes and joyful hearts.
My life may not look just like another’s but, that is okay. This morning I was thinking about the fact that I may have grandchildren while I’m still raising my youngest. Bring it on, I declared on Twitter, after all, what would I do without children in my life?
I’m praying for each and everyone of you that reads this blog today. May God bless your efforts and may He be enough when you are worried you may not be. May God give you strength in your bodies if your are tired because you are pregnant or potty training or wrangling teenagers. May God give you wisdom and creative ideas to do what needs doing today. May God give you friends that aren’t just like you to give you new perspectives. May God help you celebrate your season of life at this very age and stage. May you admit when you need help and ask for it. May that help come from unexpected sources so you are reminded that God is your source. May you smile and laugh often. May you refuse to compare yourself to other moms who appear to have it together when you are falling apart. May you make a memory today that will warm your heart and give you hope on days when you will need that reminding. Amen