Out in the beautiful Serengeti, you hear the light gallop of cleft hooves. As the sound approaches, it becomes louder. That gallop soon turns into a full blown sprint and before you realize it, whatever created that sound has vanished.
A stately rhino?
A startled zebra?
It’s the sound of your 3-year-old running through your home. You sit and wonder in awe at this beautiful little creation that has completely transformed your life.
You want to chase her, but the cramp that just reached your calf muscle stops you.
And you are suddenly reminded….
YOU are a Mid-Life mom of a toddler.
If the sudden urge to get a random tattoo didn’t clue you in, the fact that you now prefer to be in bed by 9pm (on weekdays AND weekends), and that strong desire to binge-watch movies on Netflix rather than actually go to a movie theater should have made it completely clear.
Motherhood may look very different for those who had high-risk pregnancies and were older at the time they gave childbirth than the picture of unbridled bliss that most people associate with it.
Maybe you have watched the young mothers gather at the after-school pick-up line dressed in their cute outfits or athletic wear and thought- I’m the “old” mom. They never cheat on their low fat, no carb diets, hit the gym 5 times each week and still have time to get fully made up- hair and all.
Meanwhile, you cancelled your gym membership 2 weeks ago, stress-ate a delicious donut just now, and did your best to quickly tie your hair up into a top-knot using a stretched-out ponytail holder you found on the floor of your car to keep it out of your face while loading groceries and making your way to the next errand you have to run .
The beautiful truth is however, that you wouldn’t trade this motherhood for anything in the world..
You LOVE being over 30, because you understand SO many things now.
As I enter into the cusp of a new chapter, standing on the brink of 40, motherhood is quite different for me this time. I had my first child at 22, and my second at 34. There are several noticeable differences.
Here are my secret confessions of my reality as a Mid-Life mom.
1. Sometimes I sit and stare at large piles in my home.
A quick, brief glance- turns into an all-out day dream.
I stare at the piles of laundry, piles of mail, or the piles of half-dressed Barbies.
Piles of Barbies
I think I once tried to fold the clothes with my mind- kind of like El, on “Stranger Things”. It didn’t work but as a Mid-Life mom, I am comfortable with just gazing at my multiple piles.
I usually end up staring because…
2. I no longer care about having a “perfect” home.
I am comfortable with my weary couch, and those that enter should expect to see that my home is “lived-in”. You receive no promises of perfect order when you arrive at my house unannounced. If you expect perfection, I suggest calling first and my husband and I will scramble to clean. Maybe.
3. Sometimes I don’t cook. A lot of times- I don’t cook.
When I first had my now 3-year-old, we ate organic everything. Organic kale, grass-fed beef, even juiced fresh vegetables like collards. But life hit.
With a picky toddler, working 2 jobs to pay off debt, and a mother that is beautifully aging, my priorities have shifted and meals need to be convenient.
The energy to scoop spaghetti squash out of it’s shell is gone.
The zeal and extra energy to cook 6 days a week no longer exists and since I’m a midlife mom, I could care less if you judge me.
4. I got called a grandma at Wal-Mart, and I laughed.
As I headed to the extraordinary (and quite rare) empty checkout lane at Wal-Mart, the sweet cashier asked how my day was. She said “HI” to my oldest daughter Tayler. Then she gently stated as she scanned my decaf box of tea “So you’ve got your granddaughter too”. I lovingly replied “No, Ella is my daughter”. She unapologetically replied “Oh- okay”.
My husband and I thought the situation was hilarious because of the cashier’s young age. I do believe if I were younger, her comment might have made me a bit sad, but since I’m aging…
5. Opinions don’t matter much anymore.
Whether its parenting advice, suggestions for my attire, or the latest shoe trends... I live and wear what works for me. It’s not that I don’t value my friends’ opinions, but I have an innate determination to live this life with minimal regrets. I refuse to waste precious time mewling over the opinions of others, and I take unsolicited advice with a grain of salt. A very small grain of salt.
6. I hate shopping.
Shopping solo is great. The feeling of the wind as a new shirt caresses your arm as you pass, or going into Bath & Body works for some “Stress Free” lotion and candles alone is heavenly.
But with an opinionated, incessantly-curious 3-year- old, - in a candle-filled store- that’s a liability and entirely new experience. And so for my kids, I choose to shop online.
And for myself, I have adopted the minimalist “Mark Zuckerberg” approach- and dare you to comment.
7. I’m planning hard for the future, so my priorities have changed.
MAYBE I shouldn’t have signed up for that Discover credit card in college, JUST to get a free T-shirt. That t-shirt probably lies somewhere in a random landfill, and I am still paying off that debt. I haven’t always made the best financial choices, and as I reach 40, my priorities are changing. I am working 2 jobs to eliminate my debt and save for both of my daughter’s futures. For my oldest who has Down Syndrome and Autism, I am honestly still searching for what will be best for her. My husband and I talk quite frequently and both agree that we believe it is best she lives with us, as right now she is unable to live independently.
And even though we are planning...
8. I still worry about the future.
I once had another special needs mama tell me she hopes her child leaves the world before she does.
I get it.
As beautiful as the world is, it is also full of both cruel and kind people. Maybe that mama wondered how her child could ever fare well in this world without her. After my daughter’s tribe/support system is gone, and after my husband and I leave this earth, who will care for her?
I completely understand that Mom’s concerns. Although we have some support for my daughter, there are other single moms and dads who have NONE- no support, and NO ONE to help them.
So I secretly sit and worry about the future. The words that I uttered as a teenager “When I get older...” well, older came before I knew it. I try to reassure myself that everything will work out well, and that there will be at least 1 person on earth who will love my daughter as much as I do when my husband and I leave this earth.
9. As long as I am here though, I’m determined to do things that scare me- I am determined to push my limits.
I always wondered what the thrill of skydiving was. This Mid-Life’s Mama’s blood pressure may be unable to handle a jump from an airplane, but I’m determined to take some risks- to jump out of my introverted shell, and attempt new challenges. Comfortableness is boring. And the beauty of age is that with each passing year, the permission to be one’s self increases. I will embrace life and explore as much as this world has to offer.
Mid-Life Motherhood is both amazing and beautiful. Even if it sometimes feels like a trek through the Serengeti and now and then random aches and pains sneak up to pester me, I wouldn’t go back to young adulthood even if I had the chance to do so. There’s no better feeling than randomly drifting off while watching an 8:30pm movie surrounded by the ones you love most.