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Why Do Older Mums Get Bad Press?

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I wasn’t sure whether to write this post as I feel tired of the debate around- ’what age is the right age to have babies?’ It’s another way that society controls women, making them feel guilty and bad about their choices (and let’s face it, becoming a Mum is not always straighforward).

Foolishly I clicked on a ’Daily Mail’ article this morning. They’d interviewed a group of Mums who were in their late forties and early fifties. The jist being… older Mums struggle because they have less physical stamina.

There are medical complications.

SelfishMother.com
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They might die before their grandchildren arrive. They are essentially quite selfish.

There wasn’t one thing in there that sounded positive.

I’m about to become a Mum for the second time and am in my forties. I’m scared to say my exact age because I’m worried the ’Daily Mail’ will contact me with more negative vibes. I read accounts of older motherhood with interest because I want to see how they compare with my own.

The thing is I didn’t wake up in my forties and go -’Ooh do you know what? I’ve ticked the other boxes but I seem to have

SelfishMother.com
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forgotten the baby one? How do I get one of those?’ I worked through my thirties in a job that paid well but wasn’t child-friendly. I wanted to be a Mum and hoped it would happen when the time was right. I reached thirty seven and nothing had happened. I was stressed and burnt out . I was locked into a pattern of conspicious consumption. I was constantly fire-fighting.

And yes I sound like a tragic newspaper headline – ’WOMAN OBSESSED WITH CAREER SUCCESS MISSES BOAT AND ENDS UP INFERTILE AND SAD.’ There’s some reality in there too. I met plenty

SelfishMother.com
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of woman who’d prioritised work over everything else. They had handsome salaries. They had amazing holidays and clothes and dined out in lovely restaurants every weekend. Many had been raised to believe that they could have it all (and of course there are examples of women who who are mega-rich and can afford VERY GOOD CHILDCARE but there is always compromise in there if you look between the lines). The women in my office who had kids struggled. They tended to be typecast and had fewer promotions and salary raises. They got the eye-rolling because they
SelfishMother.com
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speeded off at five thirty each day (forgetting the fact that they were then back online after bedtime and often working weekends).

After heart ache and two miscarriages, I fell pregnant. I’d just turned forty. At every ante-natal appointment I was made to feel ANCIENT  (more like seventy). There was a lot of fear instilled into the process- a focus on the things that might go wrong.  And yes when my daughter arrived, it wasn’t easy. It wouldn’t have been easy in my thirties.

HANDS UP WHO FINDS IT EASY?

The thing is we don’t choose to be

SelfishMother.com
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older Mums. We’re not feckless, work hounds who decide on a whim that we want to get some of that Bugaboo action. We’re women navigating our way through life, work, love, relationships- the whole complex caboodle. We don’t have all the answers either.

Instead of criticising older Mums we should be questioning WHY it’s happening. The reality is the majority of jobs just aren’t compatible with kids. If you’re the breadwinner it means you’re stuck.  There also aren’t many positive role models (I struggle to relate to the Sheryl Sandbergs of this

SelfishMother.com
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world and have never been able to get up at four am so I can do Pilates, lead a conference call and make a smoothie before the kids wake up).  Are we expecting too much of ourselves?

And let’s think about the old celebrity Dads out there. Is Mick Jagger getting bad vibes about being an older father? Or Rod Stewart?

The truth is I love my daughter just as much as the next woman. I swear when I get things wrong. I berate myself for shouting and losing my temper. I have come to the conclusion that everyone I meet is living with compromise ( i.e. we

SelfishMother.com
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can’t have it all, it’s a burden to believe that we can).

And don’t feel sorry for me either. My legs may be creaky but my heart is pretty robust.

SelfishMother.com
Anniki Sommerville

By

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- 3 Dec 18

I wasn’t sure whether to write this post as I feel tired of the debate around- ‘what age is the right age to have babies?’ It’s another way that society controls women, making them feel guilty and bad about their choices (and let’s face it, becoming a Mum is not always straighforward).

Foolishly I clicked on a ‘Daily Mail’ article this morning. They’d interviewed a group of Mums who were in their late forties and early fifties. The jist being… older Mums struggle because they have less physical stamina.

There are medical complications. They might die before their grandchildren arrive. They are essentially quite selfish.

There wasn’t one thing in there that sounded positive.

I’m about to become a Mum for the second time and am in my forties. I’m scared to say my exact age because I’m worried the ‘Daily Mail’ will contact me with more negative vibes. I read accounts of older motherhood with interest because I want to see how they compare with my own.

The thing is I didn’t wake up in my forties and go -‘Ooh do you know what? I’ve ticked the other boxes but I seem to have forgotten the baby one? How do I get one of those?’ I worked through my thirties in a job that paid well but wasn’t child-friendly. I wanted to be a Mum and hoped it would happen when the time was right. I reached thirty seven and nothing had happened. I was stressed and burnt out . I was locked into a pattern of conspicious consumption. I was constantly fire-fighting.

And yes I sound like a tragic newspaper headline – ‘WOMAN OBSESSED WITH CAREER SUCCESS MISSES BOAT AND ENDS UP INFERTILE AND SAD.’ There’s some reality in there too. I met plenty of woman who’d prioritised work over everything else. They had handsome salaries. They had amazing holidays and clothes and dined out in lovely restaurants every weekend. Many had been raised to believe that they could have it all (and of course there are examples of women who who are mega-rich and can afford VERY GOOD CHILDCARE but there is always compromise in there if you look between the lines). The women in my office who had kids struggled. They tended to be typecast and had fewer promotions and salary raises. They got the eye-rolling because they speeded off at five thirty each day (forgetting the fact that they were then back online after bedtime and often working weekends).

After heart ache and two miscarriages, I fell pregnant. I’d just turned forty. At every ante-natal appointment I was made to feel ANCIENT  (more like seventy). There was a lot of fear instilled into the process- a focus on the things that might go wrong.  And yes when my daughter arrived, it wasn’t easy. It wouldn’t have been easy in my thirties.

HANDS UP WHO FINDS IT EASY?

The thing is we don’t choose to be older Mums. We’re not feckless, work hounds who decide on a whim that we want to get some of that Bugaboo action. We’re women navigating our way through life, work, love, relationships- the whole complex caboodle. We don’t have all the answers either.

Instead of criticising older Mums we should be questioning WHY it’s happening. The reality is the majority of jobs just aren’t compatible with kids. If you’re the breadwinner it means you’re stuck.  There also aren’t many positive role models (I struggle to relate to the Sheryl Sandbergs of this world and have never been able to get up at four am so I can do Pilates, lead a conference call and make a smoothie before the kids wake up).  Are we expecting too much of ourselves?

And let’s think about the old celebrity Dads out there. Is Mick Jagger getting bad vibes about being an older father? Or Rod Stewart?

The truth is I love my daughter just as much as the next woman. I swear when I get things wrong. I berate myself for shouting and losing my temper. I have come to the conclusion that everyone I meet is living with compromise ( i.e. we can’t have it all, it’s a burden to believe that we can).

And don’t feel sorry for me either. My legs may be creaky but my heart is pretty robust.

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Anniki Sommerville

I'm Super Editor here at SelfishMother.com and love reading all your fantastic posts and mulling over all the complexities of modern parenting. We have a fantastic and supportive community of writers here and I've learnt just how transformative and therapeutic writing can me. If you've had a bad day then write about it. If you've had a good day- do the same! You'll feel better just airing your thoughts and realising that no one has a master plan. I'm Mum to a daughter who's 3 and my passions are writing, reading and doing yoga (I love saying that but to be honest I'm no yogi).

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