I married at 31 and started having babies when I was 33. By the time I was 38, we had three bouncing boys. I was getting older, tired and cranky, nearing 40 and seriously contemplated closing down the baby factory. Lo and behold, I was pregnant again.
Once we cleared the genetic screening hoops (our second son has a serious genetic disease), we anxiously awaited the arrival of our fourth, and final, child. We opted not to find out the gender of any of our children. We enjoyed the surprise when they were born. Even with the last child, I didn’t find out the gender because 1) I wouldn’t be able to keep it a secret, 2) if it were a boy, people would say, “oh, too bad,” before the poor guy was even born, and 3) while I knew too well how important a healthy baby was, regardless of the sex, I loved the idea of a little girl.
Miracle of miracles, I had a healthy little girl who is 12 now and just one of our crew. She is not the princess or the revered baby. She’s just #4. Okay, she twirls a lot more than her brothers, but you get the point.
Occasionally I feel a little bad that my daughter has an old mother, although I don’t think she thinks of me that way. I’m just her mom. Having lost my own wonderful mother a few years ago when I was 50, I feel a sense of wanting to impart all my wisdom to my daughter since she most likely will not have a mom for as long as I did. I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago, and while I am ostensibly cured, healthy and hoping to live a long life, one never knows what the future holds. I have to bite my tongue and subliminally drop my wisdom bombs. I don’t want her to remember me and think, “My mom was always cramming me with information because she was an old mom who worried about dying.”
I’m older than many of her friends’ moms, but that doesn’t bother me. I may not be as fun as younger moms who have more energy but I was never really that get-on -the floor-and-play-with-your-kids mom anyway.
Here are some things I want her to know:
- Read a recipe completely, BEFORE you start cooking.
- It’s worth it to pay more for a bra to have a salesperson who knows what they’re doing.
- When you order anything online, unless you really need it immediately always pick the regular shipping option – it usually comes just as fast.
- Be nice to everyone. If you happen to be popular, you want to be known as the really nice girl, not the mean girl.
- Don’t flatter yourself and think people care what you do. They have their own lives to worry about. Even if something happens in your life that makes you the news of the day, you will quickly be knocked down on the news-feed of life.
- Love yourself and your body. Everyone has things they wish were different about their body. Play to your strengths. I’m sorry you have bunions already at 12 years old. It’s part of the bad genes I passed on to you. Be thankful it’s your feet that you think are ugly and not your face.
- Don’t be a sheep and blindly follow others. Stick to your beliefs and values.
- When you have a house, put some lights on timers inside so it looks like people are inside. We were once burgled as a young couple when our house was completely dark, inside and out. Duh.
- Don’t be a doormat, to friends or a partner. Have relationships that are authentic and reciprocal.
- Don’t talk on your cell phone when in line at a store. It is rude to those around you and especially to the clerk. People don’t like to feel invisible. Smile at everyone.
- Have a schedule but be flexible, with yourself and with your children.
- Be grateful and express gratitude for what you have. Don’t whine about what you don’t have.
- Dress, speak, and act modestly. Be mindful of how you present and carry yourself. It speaks volumes about your character.
- Never “reply all” to an email unless it is specifically requested. No need to share the minutiae of replies. If you have to send an email to a large group, use the “bcc” so others can’t “reply all” either.
- Honor your father and your mother. Make sure I’m well cared for when I’m old. Two words – chin hairs.
I am aware of the opposite sides of the life cycle that we are on. My daughter is a young, budding teenager with beautiful, taut skin and boundless energy. I, on the other hand, am on the downhill slope which is full of lumps, bumps, wrinkles and if I’m lucky the occasional naps. We learn from each other’s different personalities and experiences, as even this old mom can learn new tricks. I will continue to quietly add to my wisdom list, teaching her with my words and through my actions.
Since my mother died, I often wonder “what would Mom do?” I can usually summon the answer. I hope my daughter will be able to do the same.