It was bound to happen sooner or later. I was at the grocery store with one of my youngest children and a nice gentleman looked at us and referred to me as her grandmother. Now, I freely admit that I will hit that pretty big milestone birthday in a few months, but I don’t think I look like a grandmother . . . whatever a grandmother is supposed to look like. I also don’t feel all that old. Fifty suddenly seems a heck of a lot younger than I imagined it to be when I was twenty. I don’t think of myself as old and it never crossed my mind that I was too old to bring home our two new daughters a couple of months ago.
If I am not too old to adopt, then I’m pretty sure that you are not, either. Other than sadly needing to invest in reading glasses in order to read books with tiny print to my children, here are a few things I’ve noticed about being an older mom:
It will keep me young. There is nothing like having a child, especially if that child is younger, to keep you on your toes. If you are caring for a young child, then you are moving and running and chasing and lifting and carrying a lot. You also have an excuse to swing on swings and slide on slides. Play and movement and physical activity are as good for you as they are for your children. When you have children around, you can’t help but see things through their eyes. It may be your 1000th time for something, but it is your child’s first. And it is very difficult to get set in your ways with children constantly shaking those ways loose.
I never have to wonder how to fill my days. I can’t tell you the last time I was bored. It’s just not a word that has a place in my life. Sure, there are plenty of things I would like to have time to do, but don’t we all? I would rather have a list of things I would like to get to rather than have more time on my hands than I know what to do with.
My days have real purpose. I adore my children, but life can be challenging with them at times, particularly with some of my adopted ones. They have been hurt and neglected and life has not always been easy for them. I spend my days trying to put the pieces back together. For a couple of my children in particular, the effects of neglect are profound and it is a long and excruciatingly slow process to go back and help to heal the past hurts and fill in the missing gaps.
There is one way, though, that I find being an older mother, particularly of special needs children, to be challenging, and that is in the social sphere. My oldest child is now 23. When she was little, I made many friends who were also in their early years of parenting and our children all grew up together. The difference now is the vast majority of those friends are now in the empty nest phase of life. Their existence is so different from my own that, while we are still friends, I have also become almost a different species to most of them. Sometimes I feel as though they have forgotten what it is like to have a first grader in the house, while I have two of the little creatures running around mine.
It can be difficult to fit in. My longtime friends all have grown children and I am suddenly in the position again of having to make new friends, ones who have six-year-olds. I didn’t think this would be a problem, but I’ve discovered that I am just as much an alien to the younger mothers whose oldest child is six. They can’t fathom also having a 23-year-old.
Even this isn’t all bad. When I am with younger mothers, I realize that being older gives me a perspective that I didn’t have when I was a new mother. Things I used to worry about give me no pause this time around. Instead of constantly looking ahead, I can treasure the moments I have now. It all truly does go too fast.
Are you too old to adopt? Probably not. Children of all ages need families. Children want love and security and a place to belong. These are things that parents of any age can provide. Just as love knows no color, it also doesn’t know age.
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