I am a 46-year-old mom of an 8-year-old boy. My
son has more energy than I've ever had since the day I was born, and I was a
very active little girl. In fact, I was what was once called a tomboy. I rode
dirt bikes, swam, climbed trees and camped with the boys. As a young adult, I
ran long-distance and even completed several L.A. marathons. But none of my
athleticism prepared me for what it takes to keep up with this child of mine.
Nowadays, delaying motherhood is common. Women have choices,
and they're opting to complete their educations and pursue careers before becoming
moms. This is all very good. However, when you, as I am, are in your mid-40s,
parenting a little boy who rises with the sun and then literally runs for the
entire day, there is not much energy for anything else.
My brain is filled with
thought of things I can do to keep him engaged. And my body is in constant
motion, not just chasing soccer balls, but skateboarding and even surfing! This
cannot be right.
I am both peri-menopausal and racing through the park with a soccer ball. It's so exhausting.
I was 35 the day I said "I do." (Of course that
wasn't how I'd planned it when I was a little girl. I thought I'd be married for
a decade by that age.) Unlike many women who have problems conceiving in their
late 30s, I had none. But in early testing, it became apparent that my son
had Down syndrome. Yes, that was scary. My son's condition, however, has proven
to be an opportunity for our family to learn untraditional approaches to
learning and living. I welcome these chances to stretch.
The biggest challenge,
at least for me, is simply being an old and tired mother. You heard me. I don't have the energy to keep up with him, and I don't want to play
ceaselessly the way the mom of an only child often must.
Most of my friends had children in their 20s and early
30s. I might be wrong, but it seems like they had more energy and ability
to be present with their kids than I do. They're now in their 40s, and
their teenagers aren't looking to them to play with them every waking moment.
I, on the other hand, am both peri-menopausal and racing through the park with a soccer ball. It's so exhausting;
the other day I screamed at my son for doing something I told him to do. He was almost as confused by it as I was.
Now when I meet women in their late 30s and early
40s talking about their desire to have children, I don't hide my
disenchantment. I tell it like it is. "You don't know it now, because you're
dreaming of rainbows and babies, but you're too old. I hate to be the bearer of
bad news, but if your body hasn't already made that clear, then someone needs
to tell you."
Have your babies young when you have energy to run behind
them, to climb fences and jump out of trees without breaking an ankle—before
you feel utterly foolish on a skateboard. My son has fun and doesn't care if I
look absurd, but I know it's not right. Too bad I'm too old to
have a sibling for him to play with, because that's the solution: another