When I was 38 and in the midst of what an OBGYN so bluntly called a "geriatric pregnancy," I received a call from a woman claiming to be a reporter with a local paper. She had gotten my name from a source she was not willing to reveal and wanted to see if I'd be interested in going on record about my experience being an "older mom."
I first tried to figure out which friend was playing a joke on me. Once I reached the painful realization that the call was not, in fact, a prank, I tried unsuccessfully to get the name of her source. Although I agreed to be interviewed, it was not without some minor outrage that I was considered "old" for having a baby.
After all, the reporter was reaching me during my third pregnancy. I had given birth at 28 to a beautiful daughter and at 32 to another beautiful daughter. I did not feel old — certainly not geriatric — and saw plenty of women my age or older having babies.
More women are having babies after age 35
In fact, the birth rates for women up to age 44 are higher than they've ever been since the 1960s. And while complications do increase if giving birth after age 35, medical advancements have reduced much of the risk involved.
So, in my mind, I was in the perfect position to have a child and was not a medical oddity to be profiled. I knew there were more benefits than disadvantages to being a mother of a certain age, the top five of which I offer here.
Top 5 benefits of being an older mom
Saying "no" to FOMO.
Sure, I'm tired — possibly always. However, all new parents are tired; exhaustion is not exclusive to those over 35. Being tired at 38 and beyond just means that I'm happy to use my kids as an excuse to not go out. There is no resentment or FOMO (fear of missing out) in this house. Get dressed, do my hair and makeup, and go out? No thank you — staying home in comfortable clothing and snuggling on the couch with my family sounds like a party to me.
Embracing the messy side of life.
I couldn't care less about a lot of things. Are my roots growing out? Was my daughter's favorite T-shirt — the one she wore every day for a month — a little stained? Is my house a hot mess? Sure, but that's what happens when you're having fun living life and keeping small humans alive. Things get messy — beautifully messy — and that's fine by me.
Being a friend and mentor to other moms.
I've been around longer than some of the other moms in our neighborhood. Nothing you share with me about yourself, your emotions, your marriage, your child's behavior or even your wild fantasies about running away from home will phase me. I've either heard it all or experienced it all, and know how good it feels to have someone in your corner. I can be that someone.
No shame in fun and games.
I'm young at heart. Sure, I may be older than other moms, but I still have to be equally active and fun. No one else is going to chase after my kids running through the Target aisles, so I better be ready to take off at any second. I love having a valid excuse for spending days playing at the beach or lazy afternoons in a theater eating popcorn and watching the most recent animated release. I'm an ace Connect Four player and always up for a challenge. Life with kids isn't always fun and games, but when it is, count me in.
Having nothing to prove.
I remember the days after my first pregnancy when I met my little playgroup of other moms and babes and felt like we were constantly comparing our looks, lives, careers, husbands' involvement and kids' development — practically anything and everything — with one another. By the time I had my third child, I knew I was never going to be the fittest, wealthiest, most successful mom out there, just like none of my kids were likely to be prodigies and that was OK. Life, relationships and parenting are not a competition; but even if they were, I'm happy to no longer be in the running because, remember? I'm tired.
Jen Spengler is a health and wellness writer with Sharp Health News, and mom of three daughters.