Meet Mary. A vivacious mama of two who refused to let time get in her way.
Here’s her story:
Written by Mary Labiri
Being a Mom in your 40s is all it’s cracked up to be!
Any pregnant woman who is a first time mom tries to prepare for the mental and physical exhaustion that everybody warns about. Being pregnant in your late 30s and being a Mom in your 40s is not much different… Except it is.
Motherhood in your 40s IS physically exhausting, but mentally you are so well equipped for it because you’ve conquered the hurdles you need to prepare you for the challenge. To understand how I prepared, here’s a brief history on how I became a 41 year old mother with a 2 and 1 year old.
Before the age of 30, I opened my own business. After 5 years and the economic downturn of 2008, I closed up shop. I brushed myself off and found work in my field. Once again, plowing into my work like a maniac. I had energy to burn and set and exceeded my goals. I was in pure selfish mode; party, work, travel, me, shop in constant rotation. Babies were not on the brain for me at all, as I was in the prime of my life – personally and professionally.
To be honest, though, my 20s didn’t set out that way. I was married at 25 and had my world all planned out: to have my first baby at 27 and then have the second by 29. Until it all fell apart, and I divorced at 27. Everything I thought would be part of my world was no longer there. And as it turns out, it was the best thing that could ever happen to me.
I scraped myself off, and decided to live my life for me.
I had relationships in the intervening years, but for reasons I couldn’t identify, the ideal partner, or the good father, were nebulous concepts that never found a reality. Childlessness was not my intention, but it seemed to be my fate. Why? It would be years before I could begin to answer that question. So in the interim, I just kept pushing myself to be the most authentic me.
At 37, I met my husband, and my view of the world changed. I met the man who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I wanted a family with him. I didn’t give a shit about anything else. I was done living a “Me” life and was ready to give “all of me” to my family.
Having said that, it would, I think, be a mistake to deliberately postpone having children until you’re 40 – you’d be nuts to just assume it’s going to happen on your timeline – but in my case, that’s simply how things turned out.
In any case, here I am, a mom of young kids in my 40s. At 25 or 30 or even 35, I don’t think I would’ve had the mindset I have today. I’m 41 now, and I don’t give two fucks for anyone except my family and kids. I’m sure if I had a child earlier, something would’ve suffered. I’d still be concerned with making something of myself which would take me away from raising them and being the parent that I am today.
I am fulfilled in my life today and have no regrets, because I accomplished everything I wanted before devoting myself to my children. I have the patience, the experience and the confidence that I didn’t have in my younger years. This is the biggest benefit for starting a family later. I have a stronger family focus rather than trying to juggle priorities because I have achieved many of my personal and career goals, and I don’t need to prove anything to myself or anyone else. Needless to say, I plan to work again after both my kids are in school, but my priorities will be far more balanced.
At 41, I don’t wait for approval, and I don’t ask for help to anyone who will listen because at this age, I know what I have to do. I have my husband, my mother, my sister and a handful of trusted friends and most of all, a kick ass pediatrician who I go to when needed. At the end of the day, I know who I am and rely on what I know to pass that on to my kids. This greater self-confidence comes from more career experience and management skills that have often translated directly into managing my household and advocating for my children. It wouldn’t have been the same for me in my younger years.
But don’t get me wrong, I still carve out “Me” time. It keeps me sane and healthy and allows me to keep giving back to them what they deserve. I also know this “selfish” notion benefits my kids most; they get a better me, every time.
I guess the only thing I wish I had is the energy that I had at 25, 30, 35. At 41, you feel it. I’m a stay at home mom and it’s not easy balancing when you are no longer the energizer bunny. I count down to bedtime. I rely on naps taken. I need to charge my batteries. I’m so physically and at times emotionally drained, I feel like a zombie. Being OCD doesn’t help either. My house never looks like a shit show. I just can’t live and relax that way. Luckily, my husband and mom whom I rely on for help are there for me and my sanity. This is also the part where I thank Red Bull, wine and a cigarette for being in my life. You really know the effects of a sleepless night when you are older and your kids are teething. So, if a mom of young kids in her 40s tells you she’s tired, you better know that she fucking means it. Muscle memory ain’t that quick any more. Trust me. So yeah, I’m tired and I use a shit ton of concealer but you can do it in your late 30s and 40s. It’s not impossible and it’s truly not that overwhelming because at this age you know how to prioritize better. So even if your body is suffering, you know how to juggle the big stuff far better.
The only other thing I often consider is the fact that at 50, my kids will be 11 and 12. At 60, they will be 21 and 22. At 70, they will be in their 30’s. Will I have the chance to see grandchildren? To see them go after all their dreams? This fact alone gets me: the increase in the number of children who will lose their parents at a younger age, while their children will not experience having grandparents. We all hope to be in good health to live until 80, 90…100! That’s what I worry about. It saddens me to know this, but I can’t let it steal the moments I have with them.
As a mother in her 40s, no one really tells you about having less energy and vitality, or about the social discrimination. When I was pregnant with my first born, I had a lady in her late forties ask me why I wanted kids so late in my life. She explained that one of her two teenagers had left home and she was counting the days until her youngest followed suit. She couldn’t wait to do all those things she’d wanted to do for years. All I could think is how tragic it was wishing away the last few years of being a mother. Maybe it was because I had a chance to do so many things before having children, but I couldn’t imagine the feeling – and in this experience and many others (with judgement from others) I realize that what you gain in your 40s as a parent, is not to take anything personally. People’s issues with your life often have nothing to do with you. So with that, I say okay, and move on with my day.
As a result, the main advantage to being a mom in your 40s is that I’ve had a life devoted to me, and now I’m absolutely ready to have a life devoted to my children.
Besides, you are only as old as you choose to be. So when I get comments like how do you do it at your age…I just tell them I’m a fucking champ. Cause you know what, I am.
Photos by Aleksandra Jassem