Is it your first?
Every age and stage comes with ‘the questions’ that everyone asks. You’re a teen, people want to know what you’re going to do with your life. In your 20s they want to know when you’re going to get married. You’re married, they start asking when you’re going to have babies. You have one, they ask when number 2 is coming. You start a family in your late 30s and they want to know if this is your second husband… Or third, or fourth. Or better yet, if it’s a good idea – do you know how old you are?
The questions are exhausting – though I’m sure we’ve all asked one at one point or another. After all the questions we’ve fielded over our lifetimes, it doesn’t get easier and it doesn’t get less abrasive. People are only curious, and people don’t mean to be rude, but until they’ve lived through being asked those question, they don’t realize how crass it is to ask questions out of idle curiosity. When did it become appropriate to openly pry?
(I mutters *a-hole* under her breath every time!)
Unfortunately, it seems the questions start to increase in number and intimacy as we get to this age. It’s like 40 brings the “question climax” – these are the final ones, will they break us? Will we stop politely answering and lash out? Do we even need to answer?
No, we don’t. We are never obligated to answer. And yes, they may make us snap. Some of these questions are not only personal, they’re painful.
Being a 40-something mother, we don’t have to tell people whether it’s our first marriage, second or third, why we’re having a baby or how long we’ve been trying. People always seem to assume that a baby at that ‘late maternal age’ means it’s a last chance, last-ditch effort to become the appropriate statistic. There are more losses, it’s harder to conceive and pregnancies may be riskier. The “What are you guys waiting for?” (mutters *asshole* under her breath) may be the most painful of all. They don’t know about suffering the silent losses, the sadness of peeing on a stick and not expecting two lines. They don’t know the stress of genetic counselling and wanting to wait for the genetic testing before getting excited because the numbers from the blood work didn’t look good.
Oh, and if you DON’T have a baby by 40, it’s the worst.
“You’re missing out.” (*a-hole*)
“You poor thing, you never found Mr. Right.” (*a-hole*)
“You must be having problems conceiving.” (definitely muttering *a-hole*)
Well-intentioned people throw you at their single male acquaintances to help you couple up, because of course, that’s your whole life’s goal.
But if you do choose to be a 40-something mommy, they want to know the details. You’ll hear old wives’ tales and horror stories – and everyone knows that the dangers of trisomies and miscarriage goes up at ‘late maternal age’ so you’re already taking some risks that you don’t really need to be reminded about.
Like we need to be reminded. (*a-hole*)
All we want is a family. We planned it this way. We wanted to travel, sew wild oats, build a career. We wanted to wait until we were ready to stop focussing on ourselves and have the ability to settle down and focus on a child. Why is it so hard to believe that we could plan – to want – to spend our years being parents, not grandparents.
If one more person reminds me that I’ll be almost 60 when my kids finish high school they should be prepared for my death glare.
I’ve perfected it.
They don’t appreciate the other side of this. I’m content. I’ve had my life and loads of experiences and I’m more well-rounded. I’m more settled and ready to focus on my child’s life, I’ve had my fun and I’m ready for this. I’m established. I’ve built my career, my home, my social network and my bank account. I’m no longer bewildered by all of the responsibility and have passed the point of worrying what others think, making it easy to make the right decision for my family, not just the prevailing, popular one.
So welcome, 40 is the new baby.