Sunday, 6 December 2009


Most Saturday mornings, I spend at least an hour on the phone to my mother. We haven't really had the chance to do that since before DH and I went to Lanzarote, so yesterday we were both looking forward to our conversation. Unfortunately, I was still suffering from Leaky Eye Syndrome (otherwise known as Total Despair), and wondered how I was going to get through the call without her realising that I was, at best, on the verge of tears.

So it really wasn't a good time for her to start our conversation with, "By the way, you never told us what happened at your follow-up appointment with the consultant."

Actually, I had told her all I was ready to share, but I ran through it all again. You know the details, so I won't bore you with them. I finished by telling her that we had decided we might have one more attempt, might have two, but definitely wouldn't have more than three in total. So then she wanted to know when these other attempts might happen, and as we're not telling my family about this cycle until it's completely over (though I'm sure my parents have guessed and she was actually fishing), I said something vague about timing depending on a lot of other factors.

And that's when she hit me with it.

"Well, you need to think about these things, because if you wait too long you'll be too old to run around after a small child, and it won't be fair on the child."

I dissembled a little bit, and then I said I really didn't want to talk about it right then, and we moved onto safer subjects.

But afterwards, I carried on thinking about what she'd said, and I realised she's right. I've wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember, and my friends and family have encouraged me and said they think I would make a good mother. I happen to think I already make quite a good aunt and godmother.

But now I'm thinking that it's probably true that I could have been a good mother when I was in my twenties and thirties. But now I'm 40. I have a bad back, and I'm not as patient as I used to be. DH is in his late 40s, and is definitely middle-aged. As a bachelor, he was more Timothy Lumsden than Gary or Tony, and at the school gates he would definitely be mistaken for the child's grandfather rather than its father.

Our time never came when we were young and fit for anything, but maybe now it's passed. And maybe we should accept that, because being an only child is one thing, but maybe being an only child of elderly parents is even worse.

And maybe this shouldn't be about us, but about what's best for the person we're hoping to bring into the world - not just the baby that would be showered with love, but the active toddler, the pre-teen who wants to kick a ball around or go on long bike rides with his or her parents, the stroppy teenager, the adult who has nobody to share the responsibility of looking after the ailing parents.

Giving up on our dream certainly doesn't feel like the right thing for me - there will always be a hole in my life where my children should have been. But maybe it's the fairest and most reasonable thing for the child or children that would otherwise have the burden of having us as parents. And maybe it would be selfish to pursue this dream any further.

I hate it when my mother's right.


  1. I'm not sure being an elder parent is all negative. What you lack in physical abilities you make up for in wisdom and life experience. And the time you have to listen to your child that you might not have had in your 20-ies or 30-ies when you're still in many ways a selfish child yourself. Not to mention the love this child will be showered in.

    Yes, your mother is right that you might not have the physical stamina of a 20-year old but instead a peace in yourself that many younger lack.

    Just my two cents :)

  2. I agree with Circus Princess - many older parents have so much to give in knowledge and time. Lets see where this cycle takes you, and rest assured that you are a superb godmother and aunt!! All our love, as always XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  3. I don't know, I guess I don't see 40 as all that old. My brother was born when my dad was 42. He has been able to do everything with him that my brother has ever wanted. They go camping together and canoeing with his scout troop and my dad will be 59 next week. And it's totally fine. Yes, he's older and sometimes he can't do everything as fast as the dad who is in his 20s, but my brother has seriously never noticed. And my dad is always the wiser dad who always is one step ahead with experience/advice/smarts than the younger dads.

    Age is just a number for the most part. If you were extremely ill or getting very old (say 60) then your mom's point would make a lot more sense. But you're 40. And things are different in 2009. You would be a wiser, more informed, more experienced mom. You have your life together and most 20 year olds are only starting to figure that out.

    Just some thoughts!

  4. I'm so sorry your mother got to you. I echo the sentiments of the other ladies...40 doesn't seem that old to me these days. My parents had me when they were very young (20 and 21). That was too young, but had both its positives and negatives.

    DH's parents were 30 when they had him and 35 when they had his brother. It really is a state of mind thing, I think, as they have never seemed like "old" parents to me...they're really pretty hip! :-) Age really is just a number in many ways...and I know that DH and his brother have long ago come to welcome and respect their parents wisdom.

    Thinking of you as you wrestle with many tough decisions in the 2ww!

  5. Thank you all for your comments. I suppose my mother's view is coloured by the fact that she had her first child at 23.

    I actually think (or at least hope) that having a child would rejuvenate my DH - I worry that if we don't have children he'll turn into his father within the next few years. He really does act much older than his age sometimes - yesterday he leant so hard on the altar rail when kneeling for Communion that he pushed the bolt out of place and the little gate burst open!

    I suppose I'm very conscious of the idea of an only child of older parents at the moment, having been to my friend's mother-in-law's funeral last Monday - but that's probably another whole blog post...

  6. 40 is not old! And id put money on you being physically fitter than me hunny.

  7. I agree with the others 40 is the new 30. There is no way you should assume you will be a worse parent simply because of your age. You know there are many many many many 'younger' parents out there who are not doing a great job so age is NOT a good determining factor. You will love and care for your child and give it every opportunity available to it, it will feel secure and loved and thats all because of the kind of person you are, nothing to do with your age. There are some 'younger' parents who are unfit or unhealthy etc and so cannot 'run around' after their kids, so I really don't think age has anything to do with it. You'll be a great mother, however you happen to get there. xxx