8 Myths About a ‘More Mature’ Mum that can DO ONE!

Nothing more embarrassing than an older mum waving her kid off at the school gate... 'The Visit', Universal Studios

Nothing more embarrassing than an older mum waving her kid off at the school gate…
‘The Visit’, Universal Studios

Whenever a debate rages in the press about women over 35 getting pregnant and giving birth, it’s like a few slack hacks and gobshites cut and paste the same knackered notion that a bunch of shoulder-padded women have deliberately and selfishly delayed motherhood.

The latest to erupt the wrath is actress Tina Malone (her off Shameless), who gave birth at 50 and announced on Loose Women recently that she plans to have another, now at the age of 53. As you can imagine, the comments section of the Daily Mail was teeming with readers keen to congratulate her and not in any way suggest she’s an egocentric trollop whose withered wrists should be hung in stocks. Likewise, when reports came out that Janet Jackson is pregnant with her first at 49, columnist Amanda Platell railed that the singer was “pedalling false hope” and encouraging career-driven women to defer their motherhood plans. And of course, regular older-mum basher, Kirstie Allsopp can’t seem to keep her trap shut on the matter, urging, without any sort of invitation, that women cram in as many babies as they can in their twenties. She even admitted that she would advise any daughter of her own to forfeit ideas of going to university, for motherhood. (So, yeah, Malala Yousafzai, Taliban-tackler, Nobel Laureate and activist for female education – wind your neck in!)

Of course, I would never dream of undermining cold, hard medical facts. But I do take exception to lazy, musty journalism and rent-a-gobs who spew ridiculous comment. And let’s be honest, no one appears to be putting the celeb dad likes of Simon Cowell and Rod Stewart (who had his eighth child in his late 60s), under the same mean, accusatory scrutiny.

I gave birth to my first when I was 39-years-old and second, at 41, so I’ll admit to having the small hump with reading the same recycled guff when it comes to matters of ‘more mature’ mums. So, I’d like to tackle some of these myths – and make a polite request that they now do one…

Not all of us conceived with the help of IVF…
Fertility is a mean lottery and yes, in case you didn’t get the dreary memo, it declines with age. It doesn’t mean though, women over 35 are necessarily doomed, or destined for drug-assisted pregnancy. Hard for the likes of Amanda Platell and Kirstie Allsopp to accept perhaps, but getting pregnant for some of us ‘geriatric’ mothers was actually quite easy. And yes, we were lucky – not just because of our advancing years and depleting eggs – but because when you’re trying for a baby, at any age, the odds are against you. Nevertheless, lots of us defied those stakes and got knocked up. So here’s a new memo to replace that miserable, fusty one: sometimes a quick shag will do it.

Many of us are not ‘careerists’…
The press often love purporting the idea that a load of women in their mid-thirties chose a nice fitted suit from French Connection over motherhood. It lends itself so easily to all sorts of predictable headlines: ‘From Boardrooms to Babies’, ‘Careers to Kids’, ‘I Swapped the FTSE for the NCT’… Some of us, believe it or not, have never set foot in a boardroom, or French Connection for that matter, but I guess, ‘From ‘Nandos to Nappies’ or ‘Stacking Shelves to Stinky Shit’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

We didn’t all meet our partners on the internet…
Well, of course being so preoccupied with our massive careers, finding a fella to get us up the stick was a bit tricky. So, after a busy day goose-stepping around the office in our Luis Vuitton boots, we’d unwind with a nice chablis and trawl through the pages of e-Harmony, eliminating unsuitable candidates with all the compassion of a firing squad. Well, actually some of us met our other halves while pissed up in a pub – a good reception to our bad jokes, an exchange of phone numbers and a few years later, we were breeding. Yes, loads of people, of loads of different ages, meet their partners online – and loads find love in other ways. And while we’re on the matter of love and the ‘more mature’ woman, here’s another scoop for jaded journalists: single, childless women over 35 are often – hold the front page – actually quite happy. So, if Kylie chooses to remain unmarried and sprog-free, perhaps shit showbiz reporters could stop suggesting that she is unlucky? Because the beautiful, multimillionaire singer-songwriter, with no shortage of admirers, is actually pretty lucky. Yes, that’s right – lucky, lucky, lucky.

Most of us didn’t ‘choose to take a risk with our fertility’…
One of the lovely, and sometimes irritating, things about life is that often it isn’t very straightforward. I don’t care what any charlatan with a pack of tarot cards and some stupid stones says, you can’t predict the future. Many of us, for whatever reason, just happen to ‘settle down’ in later life. We didn’t call Mother Nature into a meeting room, flip through our Filofaxes and say: “Let me see, I could probably do you a baby when I’m 38 – how does that work for you?”

Quite a few of us are skint…
There’s no doubt having kids requires a few quid. But most older mums didn’t store vast wads of cash away (from our highfalutin, fancy careers), before coming off the pill. In fact, some of us had less cash than ever when we had our babies. Like many, we approached parenting with the age-old ‘we’ll cope’ strategy and waited for the Kiddicare sale. So, for the record, the assumption all ‘more mature’ mums were holding out for financial stability before reproducing, is untrue. Some of us are actually a bit brassic and regular shoppers at Poundland (someone might need to bring Kirstie Allsopp round with some smelling salts…)

Some of us aren’t very ‘wise’ at all…
I think it’s pretty safe to speak on behalf of all of us when I say, motherhood was not put off until we could solve the conundrum on Countdown, or negotiate our way out of a hostage situation. In fact, even with terribly high IQs and all the wisdom of Socrates, once we’re bimbling around the house with a baby clamped to a breast, most mums, old and young alike, struggle to finish a train of thought without their brains going into meltdown. So no, we don’t serenely recite ancient Chinese proverbs about motherhood just because we’re ‘of an age’ – we cry, just like any other mum, because we can’t have a shit.

We’re not all mistaken for being our kids’ nan
We don’t humiliate our offspring at the school gates, wearing surgical stockings over American Tan tights, spit-washing their brows with a hanky and waving them off with a crinkly, bingo-winged arm. Some of us are quite funky and wouldn’t look out of place at a trendy festival full of very young people wearing lots of cropped clothing. I myself, it has to be said, would look very out of place – largely because, being so sleep-deprived, I’d be the one turning in at ten, asking the band to keep the music down. But there are many my age and beyond, who can rock a crop top while rocking out to Coldplay (and know better than to use words like ‘funky’ and ‘trendy’).

We’re not always defined by being ‘more mature mums’…
We don’t hang out in gangs, banging our wrinkly wrists on coffee shop tables, raging collectively (and perimenopausally), about liver spots and the price of Tena Lady. We walk among mums of all shapes and sizes who generally look as tired as us. And just like our more youthful counterparts, we barely remember our own names let alone what age we are (until of course, some judgey, off-the-telly bore decides to advise us we’re far too old to be having kids). We’re not some sort of movement making a political statement about more mature motherhood – we’re just some mums who happened to give birth over the age of 35. Not a great headline, I’ll give you – just the quite boring truth.

I gave my happy, healthy four-year-old a yoghurt the other day, and he said he loved me more than elephants and “the cakes with the white icing”, and if you knew my son, you’d know that that is true love. He doesn’t give a stuffed Elmer about my age! And that’ll do for me.

Instagram: word_to_the_mothers

Discussions — 3 Responses

  • Patricia Smith July 20, 2016 on 4:08 pm

    Love it.

  • Natalie Stanlake May 5, 2017 on 8:04 pm

    Spot on as always. One of my drs called me a Geriatric mother when I was pregnant with my first at 38 (just had my second and turning 40 in 3 months!! Eeek!) my response, once I had picked my jaw back up and the urge to punch him in his face had passed, was that I had assumed it was better for the child to wait until I wouldn’t have to be a single mother claiming benefits and I was in a position mentally to cope with the massive responsibilities of raising a child. Personally I think its worse when we have children having children. Surely its better to have a few life experiences before taking on the challenges of juggling no sleep and normal everyday functioning?!

    • Zeena Moolla Natalie Stanlake May 5, 2017 on 10:19 pm

      Is a ridiculous phrase isn’t it? (And one I think they’re not supposed to use any more). For me. life just happened that way – and like you, I’m actually very pleased I had the experiences I did before I had kids. So unlike Kirstie Allsopp, I’ll be encouraging my daughter not to feel pressured into having kids early (if she even wants them), because, like Robbie, I have no regrets – and she shouldn’t either! X