We ran into a friend who recently gave birth to a baby boy. It is really warm, so we had a chance to see the little bundle of joy in all his glory, sleeping peacefully in his pram, his little arms and legs all over the place, his six weeks of life on this planet Earth not giving him a care in the world yet. Since in my town I am regarded as a sort of a guru, the mother anxiously asked my opinion on the subject which clearly gave her a lot of worry. “I just turned 45, people say it’s very late to have a baby! And how do I look?” I know that her older son is 22; this one came rather as a surprise. And of course we are not movie stars who may have children at the age of fifty due to the miracles of modern science and their wealth. Yes, and people would comment on anything. I gave my husband a surreptitious look, and we chorused, “You look wonderful!” I added sincerely: “ANY new mother looks exhausted, underslept and very happy. This is the way you look too!” Then I cited a few of my other friends and acquaintances who had children quite late in life. Some of them had their first child when they were over forty, others had the same sort of unexpected surprise and decided to go ahead. Naturally it is much more difficult to become a mother (again) when you are not twenty or thirty anymore. Our brains are fine but our bodies are different. So we may do things a bit slower, feel the effects of the lack of sleep more, take more time to lose that weight. So what? Having a baby gives us new perspectives, new aims, even a new focus. We want to look fine at all those future PTA meetings so that our teenager does not cringe or get comments on how “old” their parents are. We want to be able to dance at our youngest child’s wedding, right? We have to gradually figure out a whole new modus vivendi, a sensible schedule, a new regime. Caring for the baby is a continuous workout in itself. It may take us a year to lose the weight for instance, which is actually what Nature itself decreed a zillion years ago. Very young mothers snap back into shape much faster; age has its own demands. Ah, the joy of fitting into your favorite pair of jeans again when the baby turns one year old! It’s as good a goal as any. Walk around with a stroller, run after the never-stopping energetic toddler, and you’ll be fine. I am genetically blessed in at least one respect: my hair does not turn grey. Grey or white hair is the one factor which adds years to one’s appearance. If your hair is turning grey, check it occasionally and make this one concession to your aversion to artificial stuff. Dye your hair regularly, better into your natural hue. I have a friend whose hair became grey when she was twenty five; she’s being coloring it ever since. When she became pregnant with her second child after she turned forty, she fretted about it a lot because she could not dye her hair for several months. She kept asking me if she looked “too old” for her condition, and I kept telling her she looked fine. Which she did by the way. Nobody looked at her head while she was carrying; people saw only her growing belly. I think that our perceptions are changing not only due to the advances in medicine which allow women to have children at a much later age than in the previous centuries. In developed countries life expectancy is much longer now than it ever was. It stands to reason that if a sprightly octogenarian does not surprise anyone anymore, fort really is becoming the new twenty. Or maybe the new thirty. Lots of women of my mother’s generation became grandmothers when they were forty or forty five. Now a growing number of women become mothers at the same age. They have a good career, a number of fruitful working years behind them; the family often has a house, a car and all the things necessary. They know how to plan. In short, they can afford to have a child and give it a good upbringing, a good education in the future.

I would say that it is a positive sign when a woman can make her choices. Probably the fact that now one can see mothers of different ages at the same playground is creating a new atmosphere in the society. Younger women would eagerly ask for advice and share their own new experiences. Older ones would share the wisdom they accumulated and move around more. It is a very nice outlook for those around too. What do we see when we meet a woman who is pushing a stroller? A young mother. We don’t notice her age. We just see a continuation, the Miracles of Life. It’s always been like that. I looked at those adorable illustrations to many children’s books by Mabel Lucy Attwell. One can see her Love, and her eternal fascination with Childhood.


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