I was 38 years old when I gave birth to my youngest son. Hardly ancient by today’s standards, but having had all three of my other children before age 30, my body felt the difference.
With my past pregnancies, I’d waitressed until the ninth month, walked up the hills and staircases of a college campus with a heavy backpack in tow, and bounced around in a pregnancy aerobics class. As soon as I brought my third son home from the hospital we were taking daily walks. Thanks to the elasticity of young skin, I could still wear a two piece bathing suit with relative confidence.
Not so with my final pregnancy. Imagine the polar opposite of everything above. In short, I dragged butt through the entire pregnancy and for several years afterward, for of course he was the child who didn’t sleep through the night until age four. And forget about ever wearing a two piece again.
When Christian started kindergarten, it was obvious to my husband and me that we were a bit older than many of the other parents. We joked to each other that we’d be attending his high school graduation using walkers. Still, I was surprised one day about a year ago when this little offspring said to me, “Mom, you’re old.”
I didn’t know what to make of such a comment. Was it funny or insulting? I decided it was best to let it go.
But he kept on saying it, day after day, without any context to go along with it. What was going on in that little mind of his? I knew I needed to address it because whatever his intention, he sounded rude and the phrase was beginning to irk me. I asked him why he kept saying this to me, but he didn’t have an answer. I told him that I didn’t appreciate it and to stop.
He didn’t stop. In fact, one night at the dinner table, out of the blue, he said to my husband and me, “Why did you guys have me when you were so old?” To me in particular, he said, “Why can’t you be young like the other moms?”
Holy dart in the heart. Talk about out of the mouths of babes. Clearly, my oldness was bothering him, but I was hardly decrepit for crying out loud. Here I was trying to age gracefully, and the little bugger wouldn’t let the topic go.
My response to him was, “Because God gave you to us when He did, that’s why.”
Miraculously, this shut him up, but only temporarily. At least a few times per week he still says, seemingly more out of habit than anything else, “Mom, you’re old.” Most of the time I ignore it. Sometimes I agree with him and say something like, “Yes, I am a little bit old, but there are people older than me.” Or I’ll tease him back and say, “Christian, you’re young.”
I also like to remind him from time to time that his brothers knew me when I was young, and as proof I’ll show him photos of me with them when they were little boys. I have come to realize that doing this is more for my sake than for his; I like to remember on occasion that once I was a young mother.