Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On being "old"

I've been reading the 25 pages of comments to the recent NYT article about the "twiblings," two babies conceived through ART and born around the same time (hence, they are siblings who are almost-twins, get it?). The article is fine and I'm happy to hear that it all worked out so well for the family. There are lots of crackpot comments in those pages, as we might expect, but the ones that sting the most are the ones aimed at "old" women who put off having babies until it's "too late." Obviously, I'm taking them a little too personally because I am one of those "old" women who apparently shouldn't be procreating because I didn't want or wasn't able to have babies in my 20s. I know, I know...I shouldn't get bothered by these random people's uninformed opinions.

If I could get those people in a room, I'd tell them the following:

- It is none of your business why a woman doesn't start trying to have a baby until their late 30s. Don't judge people without knowing their specific circumstances and lives. And even then, shut the fuck up. Being judgmental about other people's choices is a shitty way to interact with your fellow human beings.

- Women who want to have a career have just as much right to it as any man does, and this sometimes means that having a baby in one's 20s or early 30s is impossible. No one complains when men have babies in their 30s and 40s (and beyond) because they're busy with their careers, and there's no reason women shouldn't have the same privilege.

- Good parenting partners don't just fall out of the sky and present themselves in a timely manner. I honestly can only think of one of my former partners whom I might have been happy to parent with, and he's now parenting happily with someone else (good for him!). Parenting is not something to be taken lightly or done hastily. Neither is marrying or getting into a long term relationship. Maybe the commenters who complain that women should "settle down" earlier if they want children met their partners early in life (lucky them) and assume it works that way for everyone. It doesn't.

- Not all women know that they want children when they're 25. Or 30. Or even 35. I struggled with the decision long and hard before making it, and while I envied friends and fictional characters who always knew they wanted children, it just wasn't me. My path wasn't that straightforward. Many of the commenters seem to think that desiring children is something women (or men) never question. In fact, I think I'm a better parent because I struggled with the decision. I look at my son and know that I have no doubts about having him in my life.

Phew. I think that's it. I just had to get this off my chest. I find that there is rampant ageism around older mothers, and it's not only unwarranted, it's mean and nasty. I'll stop reading those comments, now.


  1. Well said. People just don't get how life and the world has changed so much. Babies at 20 just isn't really an option anymore.

  2. Thank you for reading! It's so true that babies at 20 would not be the best option for SO many people (myself, especially). I am really glad I waited until I was mature enough to handle motherhood.

  3. Very good post! I'm kind of in the middle, I guess, with the age thing (I turned 30 right before he was born). While, I don't have personal experience with those kind of comments, I can say that I, for one, would rather the world be filled with children of "old" parents than those of teen parents. And I applaud you for waiting until it was YOUR right time.