May 29, 2008

In 1914, when she was 43 years old, my grandmother Mary Alice wrote her sister from Atlantic City. She was sick with the flu and had to cut her trip short. That bout of the flu turned out to be my mother, Marie Elise. Years later, my mother would laugh when she told the story. Apparently my very proper schoolteacher grandmother was embarrassed for the world to know that she and her 55-year old husband were still having “relations.” Needless to say, and for more reasons that one, my mother was their only child.

Fast forward to 2007. I watched a 60 year old single mother proclaim herself as the standard bearer for mature mothers everywhere. “There are a lot of middle-aged women having babies – 40s, 50s; now I just turned 60…they just have to keep up with what’s going on with society.” I’ve got a newsflash for her. When those twin boys start to climb on the countertop, swing from the curtains and shove Rubber Ducky down the toilet, she’ll have to keep up with more than what’s going on with society.
From stories of my mother’s childhood, “mature motherhood” was much easier for my grandmother. Her summers were free, they lived on a farm and both parents had more than enough time for their daughter. I can’t imagine what it’s like for a 21st century, city-dwelling 60 year old single woman. And that’s the point – I don’t know what it’s like – for her. Maybe this woman has enough family support to make motherhood work. She may be more than up to the physical and mental challenges of single parenting. Still, I shudder for them all when the full force of puberty sets in.

The birth of my children was magic for me. And I was a relatively “late in life” mother. Of all the parents of my children’s friends, I was one of the oldest. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. But even I have limits. By the time I’m 70, the only play dates I’ll be arranging will be on the deck of a sailboat with cool drinks and good friends.

Some critics pointed out that when her children are 10, she’ll be 70. When they deliberately plan for children much later in life, is it fair to accuse older parents of being selfish?

With so many grandparents raising their grandchildren, is there a difference?


  1. You are at it again... I had my MIT when I was 34 yrs. and everyone thought I was crazy. I even remember a birthday party I took him to and everyone thought I was his grandmother.. I laugh now but at the time I was mad... I am glad I waited to have him and would not change it for anything. Great blog Niambi.


  2. 'Cilla - I echo your sentiments excactly! I am so glad I waited, even though I was pushing it with our last child (lol) And if I'd had children earlier, we all would have been crazy!

  3. I was a "young" mother (right out of college)much younger than my mother, grandmother or mother-in-law.

    My oldest daughter followed in my footsteps and my younger daughter waited and had her son later in life - so I have a 17 yr old grandson and a four month old grandson.

    But I think either way is fine and it is a personal choice. Motherhood is a hard but rewarding aspect of life.

    Having children helped me "settle" down. Maybe because my children are 18 months apart. But both my daughter and step daugher waited seven years between their first and second child. And that I do not understand (smile).

  4. I am 31 years old and have been married for 7 years without any kids. When people asks me when am I going to have them, I answered, "When God decides." But, in the back of my mind, I hope to God that I don't become a mother at a time when I'm suppose to be retiring! :o)

    My mother is 57 years old, and I always tease her when I come across an article about a woman in her golden years having children. I know my mother couldn't do it over again, because it was hard before to raise 2 girls as a single mother. I don't think I can either. I don't think I'll have the patience to raise a child in my later years.

  5. I can say it is a bit difficult to relate to your children when you have many decades separating you from your children. My mother-in-law had my husband one day before her 40th birthday, and it's hard for them to understand there youngest child.

    Now I followed in the footsteps of my mother. I had all my children by the age of 27. She understand me and my siblings. I also understand my children and I know I could not deal with my kids if I was 50 and 60, let alone 70.

  6. Well raising your grandchildren is one thing and actually having a baby at 60 is another. I personallym think it is selfish. But Cilla, 34 is not old to have a baby, that is still young. Is it woman have babies so young that 34 or 35 is age appropraite for a grandmother?

  7. I had my daughter at 27; and that was an "oops" moment for me because she wasn't a planned pregnancy but she was certainly a planned birth.

    It was a good time in my life to be a mother. But I learned it was more than just a notion so she remains my lonely only.

    And even so, when she got older and went to school, I was an older mother. She often told me that I was older than her friends' mothers until she got to sixth grade.

    While I was 39, one kid's mother was in her fifties. At 12 years old, my dauaghter thought the woman was ancient.

    She never commented on my being an older mother again. LOL

    Great blog, Niambi!


  8. When they deliberately plan for children much later in life, is it fair to accuse older parents of being selfish?--No...I know a lot of SELFISH parents and they come in all ages!

    With so many grandparents raising their grandchildren, is there a difference? Yes...with grandkids you can always send them on a serious note...when grandparents have to step in and raise kids it's generally because of an immature, selfish parent! I was raised by my grandparents, but I thank God that I didn't have any kids before I afford to take care of them in all aspects--physically, emotionally, mentally, financially and spiritually. And, I'm doubly blessed that their father, my husband, and I are still together after 17 years!