Photo Credit: New York Magazine
Delayed motherhood is nothing new. Thanks to modern medicine and sheer luck, women have been having babies past 40 for a while now. Juxtaposed with the train wrecks on MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, giving birth at 40 seems downright brilliant. And clearly, more and more people agree: In 2008, about 8,000 babies were born to women 45-plus, more than double the number in 1997, according an article in New York. And over 500 of these children were born to women who were 50 years old or older -- that’s a 375 percent increase.
This fact creeps a lot of people out. Lisa Miller, the author of the article, who herself had a baby at 40, put it this way: “...when a 50-year-old decides to strap on the Baby Björn, that choice...overwhelmingly prompts something like a moral gag reflex.” The reflex apparently hits for many reasons: It unnatural! It’s cruel to essentially guarantee your child will be without a parent by age 30! It’s risky -- your likelihood of having a preemie with lung, digestive and/or neurological issues is way higher! It’s selfish! It’s naive -- kids are too much work for older folks!
The article attempts to call the masses out on their double-standardness: Today, 2.6 million grandparents in America are raising their children’s children and they’re not labeled unfit based of their age. Plus, it’s nearly impossible to have a child unassisted at 50 -- these children are wanted. Older parents are established, complete with money and security. And, shock, their kids are smart and showered with attention!
In theory, I understand it. Older parents are probably infinitely better than younger parents at many things. But I keep coming back to a quote in the article: “Children are entitled to at least one healthy, vibrant parent,” says Julianne Zweifel, a psychologist who treats fertility patients in Wisconsin.
It’s estimated that if your mom had you at 50, she’d likely be dead by the time you’re 30. That also could mean that you’d spend a good part of your 20s coping with your parent’s mental and physical decline. As a mom, I wouldn’t want to set my child up for that. Instead, my two boys get the stressed, not-rich, unestablished and young(ish) mom that I am over the calm, wealthy, settled, older mom I could be. I hope that’s okay. And if not, at least I’ll (hopefully) still be here to hear all of their complaints when they’re adults.