In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Friday, February 25, 2005

Check the Label

by Beth K. Vogt

Having a baby at 41 earned me some new titles:

Advanced Maternal Age (AMA)
Late-in-Life Mom
Older Mom
Mature Mom

Recently, I heard a doozy of a label for moms over 35: Elderly Mothers.

Excuse me? My 86-year-old mother-in-law doesn't want to be called elderly!

Elderly means advanced in years. Other ways to say it would be aged, older, or senior. I'll admit I'm an older mom--older than I was when my first three children were born during my 20s. There's a bit more gray in my hair and a few more lines around my eyes, but when I look in the mirror, I don't see an elderly woman.

The term elderly just seems a bit harsh to me. The word evokes the idea of someone feeble, frail, and fading into the sunset. With a 21-year-old son, two teenage daughters, and a four-year-old, I have no time to be fading into the sunset. And, if a pregnant woman in her 40s is elderly, then what do you call the 56-year-old woman who gave birth to twins in November 2004? Ancient?

The trend of late-in-life moms is not a passing fad. Moms in their mid-30s to mid-40s are reshaping the face of motherhood. For better or for worse, we will create the perception of what late-in-life mothering looks like. My guess is we don't want--or deserve--the label of elderly.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Getting to Know You

Who are you?
Now, put that question in the context of being a late-in-life mom, and then answer it.
Who are you?
Why are you a mommy-come-lately? Did career choices delay starting a family? Did infertility? Divorce?
Are you a first-time mom or are you a "repeater" like me? My children are ages 21, 18, 16, and 4. That's 12 lo-ong years between my third and fourth child.
What are the blessings you experience because you are in your thirties or forties?
What are the struggles you face because you are older?
What advantages does your child have because her mom is not 23 years old? Is older really wiser when it comes to mothering?
What are the disadvantages your child faces? (Gotta' be realistic.)
As I communicate with other late-in-life moms, I find we have a lot in common--and yet we have our own distinct story. I'm eager to hear how life unfolded for you and what you've learned along the way.
As I tell my story, I invite you to share yours with me. Go ahead--click on that comment button and tell me about yourself. Not sure where to start? Pick one of the questions I just posed.
I'm hoping this column becomes more of a dialogue than a monologue.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Late-in-Life Moms: A New Generation

by Beth K.Vogt

Any other Mommies-Come-Lately out there?
If you read the daily newspaper or recent women's magazines or watch the news, you know late-in-life moms are everywhere. Some have famous names like Julia Roberts or J. K. Rowlings. But most are like you and me--moms devoid of celebrity. We are part of the phenomena called "Mid-Life Moms."
Physicians have there own special label for moms who give birth when they are 35 years or older: Advanced Maternal Age (AMA). It's just another way of saying I'm old. Mid-life Moms can be first timers or repeaters. I'm a repeater. My original family plan was to be done having children when I turned 30. I accomplished that goal--and then 12 years later, my life slammed into reverse when I became pregnant at 41.
Lots of Mid-Life-Moms are experiencing motherhood for the first time--some by choice, some not. Many women pursued careers in their 20s and early 30s and then felt ready for motherhood. Some women were forced into AMA status because of infertility. Some by divorce.
When you look at the statistics, we represent a new generation of mothers:
The 2002 birth rate for women aged 35-39 years was 31 percent higher than in 1990.
The 2002 birth rate for women 40-44 years increased 51 percent since 1990.
So long, Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. Say hello to the Mommies-Come-Lately Generation. We are pioneers on the frontier of late-in-life motherhood. I'd wager most of us want to be good moms--whether we decide to do that while staying at home or staying on the job.
With this blog, I'm sending up a flare, trying to catch the attention of other moms like me. I know you're out there. I've run into you at the grocery store, or your friend has told me about you, or you've called me on the phone and said, "Me, too"--not knowing if you want to laugh or cry. And, if Julia or J. K. wants to join in, why not? Motherhood tends to transcend celebrity status.
We're all just moms.

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