Ironically the arrival of a new life, makes you question your own. Where am I going? Where have I come from? How did I get here? Is there a way back!?! Having a baby is one of those monumental events that punctuates your life, you sit back and take note of your age and stage in life and think to yourself – why the hell didn’t I do this sooner because this most common little miracle can be enjoyed at any time.
There’s something about having a newborn baby that sharpens your sense of longevity and there’s something about having teenagers that sharpens your sense of mortality. You realise that children need you just as much when they’re in their teens and that motherhood is not a ten to twelve year stint, it’s a lifetime. This wouldn’t be such as issue if we weren’t starting to have children ten, fifteen and even twenty years older than our foremothers.
Take myself for example, I’ll barely be able to blow out all the candles on my next birthday cake (hopefully in New York, probably in West Cork) which will have forty candles, my mum, a mere 23 years older than me, will be able to look after my baby who will then be 6 months old. But fast forward 40 years to when my bubs is planning her 40th, where will I be at the ripe old age of 81?! Definitely West Cork and not New York and certainly not caring for a newborn while my daughter takes off to celebrate, more likely I be having them placed on my knee for a photograph and quickly snatched away in case I drop them.
I think it’s fair to say that that a girl in her twenties is now nationally deemed as being too young to settle down and have kids. The twenties should be whiled away spending a few years travelling, heading for Oz, ending up in Bangkok before strolling back to Kanturk to try and find a job near home with a degree in Food Science. The only signs of settling down will be attending a few speed dating events and buying cushions for her apartment but certainly no husband and no kids, not until she’s done Thailand and Vietnam.
The pressure comes in the thirties, the search to find Mr. Right and even more pressure follows on to acquire the right house, book the right wedding venue and acquire the right cars before even entertaining the idea of kids, the right kids. But many women nowadays are achieving all this in their thirties and by the time they arrive to the grand old age of forty they’re either just about getting round to having children or up to their necks in Infacol and nappies.
That’s right, forty-somethings of today are cooing and burping at a time in their lives when their mothers had their children nearly reared and were considering getting into or back in to the workforce. The pro’s, obviously maturity and imaginably patience are two or the offerings that the older mum brings to the changing table but cons, well, we’ll still be doing the school run at 57!
By front-loading child-rearing, mums of yesteryear are now able to lead fulfilled lives in their fifties and sixties while they still have the energy, health and income to do so. Whereas, one has to wonder are the best years of adventure and self-discovery behind the forty-five year new mum or at best are they to face a future of travelling in the autumn of their years with teenagers and at worst are they to spend their sixties struggling to continue earning to fund college fees and inter-railing tickets.
Since I became a mum I’ve never needed and relied on my own mum more, and luckily, she’s there because back in the 1970’s she passed on the year out in OZ, by-passed Thailand, Bangkok and Bali, and landed straight into Marriage and Kids and worried about the house, cars and holidays (Salthill and Tramore) as she went along, because there is no perfect time to have a child (except winter in Doha). For all those thirtysomethings postponing the leap of having children, just jump, you’ll be glad when you reach the other side.