I married at the tender age of 21, and when we were first married and fielded the intrusive questions about family planning, it didn’t take me long to assess my own situation and decide that I wanted to become a mother in my 20s. I liked the idea of having children at a younger age; there are some health benefits, too, to having children before 30, and I decided these all added up to great reasons to make sure we started a family young.
Naive as I was, our plans worked out for me and I delivered Gabe when I was 26, moderately young by today’s standards. My pregnancy was pretty typical and the transition to being a mom, although world rocking, was pretty typical, too, and I eventually worked out the kinks to feel comfortable with my new role.
Infertility put a damper on our plans of continuing to grow our family, and I found myself days shy of 34 when I delivered Isla, and nearly 36 when I delivered Jude. While it often doesn’t seem like that much time could have passed between my first experiences as a mother and now, I’ve come to realize that I’m a different person now than I was then, and motherhood is different. The ob even told me at my most recent postpartum exam that I was an older mom! Ouch!
This got me thinking of how motherhood is different this time around and how being an older mom is different from being a younger mom. Here are some of my observations…
|| Pregnancy was easier when I was younger. It affected me less and I bounced back more quickly. Now, inactivity catches up with me quickly and soreness sets in early.
|| Predictably, I had more energy when I was younger. The most marked difference I noticed between my first pregnancy and my most recent pregnancies was fatigue. I was tired when I was pregnant with Gabe, but I was utterly exhausted when I was pregnant with Isla and Jude!
|| Pregnancy sleep was more disrupted when I got older. My sleep wasn’t fantastic with Gabe, but I slept more than I was awake at night. By the end of my pregnancy with Jude I’m quite sure I was awake more than I was asleep each night.
|| I’m more patient with my younger two than I was with Gabe. I don’t think I’m super impatient in general, but I can see a tremendous difference in my ability to wait for my kids now than I could then.
|| I needed more motherhood connection when I was younger. I attended a few different mom groups, and this filled that need. I still need connection now, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be centered around motherhood. I feel a little out of place at MOPS meetings now.
|| I’m more comfortable standing up for my children and their needs now than I was then. I’m still not a great confrontationalist, but when something really matters to me I’ll take it on now rather than staying quiet and stewing about it on my own.
|| I say no to my children more. With Gabe, I tried to always have a concrete, well-developed reason why something wasn’t best for him and, therefore, I was saying no to something. As he got older, I realized it was okay to say no because I just didn’t feel good about something – I didn’t have the energy, we don’t have the space, or I just plain didn’t want to.
|| I say yes more easily. Dessert first? Sure! (Occasionally.) You want to see the 2am eclipse? Why not! I’m better at indulging the little things and having fun, even if it disrupts the routine.
|| I was better at protecting sleep when I was younger. This might have to do with the fact that I only had one child, but making sure Gabe had regular and adequate sleep was a paramount part of my day. Now, I often find us patching naps together and hoping for the best. Isla and Jude definitely aren’t as well-rested as he was.
|| I can function on little sleep better now than I did earlier. I don’t know if this is because I have more practice being tired now or because I have lower standards for things that need to be done, but disrupted nighttime sleep isn’t the end of my world now in the same way it used to be. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still a drag, but it’s not as bad as it has been in the past.
I feel like there were advantages to becoming a mom at both stages. Wouldn’t it be nice to combine those all into one? Of course, there are lots of people who become mothers much earlier or later than me, too. If you’re a mom, did you have your children when you were younger or older?