By Angel La Liberte, www.flowerpowermom.com
The Wake-up Call.
One day, back in 2008 when I was still forty-sevenand my son Alex was five and daughter Lizzie twoI was delivered a life-changing blow. Or, you could call it a wake-up crack in the head.
In that honeyed-little-kid voice, Alex suddenly piped up and said to me: Hey, Mama, do you know what youre going to be when I grow up?
I was in the kitchen (where I usually live these days, but not barefoot because washing the kitchen floor is somewhere in the proximity tooth-brushing the knobs on the toilet base on the domestic priority list), practicing the fine art of domestic multi-tasking.
Ergo, I was mentally AWOL. It was a good time and place for a kid to nail me if they happened upon a fortuitous opening. And thats just what he had that very night. A fortuitous opening. And he took it.
Vaguely amused, I asked, No, Alex, what am I going to be when you grow up?
My grandma! he replied, grinning triumphantly from ear to ear, evidently expecting a round of applause.
I froze on the spot with a spaghetti spoon in mid-dangle, thunderstruck. As if the moment were divinely ordained, I remembered the oft quoted verse from the bible: Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, thou has perfected praise
Grandma , repeated the grinner. Suddenly I saw the light.
Everything that had made me often and inexplicably miserable, profoundly exhausted, a parental outsider in the pre-school playground, paranoid about disease, dying, and mortality in general, all laced with nostalgic longing for a dose of familiar camaraderie lost somewhere in my youthwell, it all boiled down to that one, simple truth: I was mother to my five and three-year-old children.
And I was already old enough to be their grandmother.
How I Got Here.
Let me begin with the single, most important, axiom of midlife motherhood:
No woman kicks back in her twenties and plans the course of her life just to cram in popping a few kids sometime after shes forty or fifty, like a sad afterthoughtthe red-haired stepchild of lifes priorities.
It doesnt work like that. Having a child isand always will bethe most important choice of a womans life.
I was born in 1960, a child of the Flower Power generation. It would be the next millennium before I had my first child.
The 1960s marked the beginning of an era when women were expected to do something with their lives other than planting themselves, barefoot and pregnant, in the kitchen baking brownies.
Back in those days, everyone was gung-ho that some book learning and a career more lofty than bottom feeding in a corporate typing pool while waiting for a Jimmy Stewart clone to come along, should come first.
Even so, my first marriage took place at the socially correct age of twenty-six, after Id managed a BA (Hons) in Psych. But the fairy tale ended abruptly there.
The union promptly crashed on the rocks of Failure-To-Communicate when I discovered that my (then) husband didnt want kidsalong with a host of other little unexpected surprises I wont delve into here.
Exit stage left, at age thirty.
It then took another ten years, including some relationships best defined as learning experiences or even cul-de-sacs (not to mention the de rigeuer kissing of a few unprincely frogs) before I met the Real Deal.
There he was: Frank. My new husband. The Man-Who-Would-Be-Father. And I knew it the minute I clapped eyes on him. We were inseparable from our first date.
It was 2001. I was forty, and finally on the road to motherhood.
And I was blessed with the mother lode: first with a son, just before I turned forty-two in 2002 and then with a daughter, when I was almost forty-five in 2005.
Miraculously, they were conceived without the need of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies). I was of the blessed and fortunate few in the grandma class of expectant mothers.
In fact, they were created artlessly, with a load of love and a heaping helping of elbow grease (literally).
Now Im pushing fifty. Im truly a midlife mom. A Flower Power Mom.
The Birth of Flower Power Mom.
Ive learned some hard facts since having my kids: its a brave new world that will judge you without a hearing on your choice to become a midlife mom.
Dont expect anyone to cut you a breakyou chose to have a child when you were supposed to be harboring a growing fear of pushing up daisies instead.
You made your (flower) bed and now youre going to lie in it with all of the sagging cellulite, aching arthritis and second chins your body can muster. After all, youre a misfit who refused to subjugate your maternal urges to the natural order.
At least, thats what some say.
What I say is that you cant crush a growing army. Over 40s motherhood is changing the demographic of the American, Britishand globalfamily.
Despite the lack of welcomemy ineligibility to be a member of the under-40 Stepford MomsI felt inspired to celebrate. Women having babies after forty represent the neo-liberating force of our generation.
The return of Flower Power.
The power unleashed by the Age of Aquariusan era spawning the scientific inventions that have empowered a womans life to blossom after fortya watershed moment when our liberating foremothers were already fading away.
We are Renaissance Moms.
Motherhood after forty and longer life expectancy for women are here to stay. And if we ever needed the compassion of our age-related peers (other new 40+ moms), it is here and now, in the daily trenches of midlife motherhood.
To prove the point, I tested it out:
Most any mother under the age of thirty-five who heard Alexs Grandma Story, would gasp (horrified) and whisper Oh no!. (Like, how revolting!)
Any mother (or grandmother) over fifty would immediately fall over laughing. (What a gas!)
Reactions were defined by age.
Ergo, that single, defining moment in 2008 was the birth of a mission. Alex had woken up the so-called sleeping dragon (or old dragon, in my case).
It is a mission to reveal the truth, to share, to commiserate and, ultimately, to unveil and celebrate the secret life of Flower Power Moms, as it is lived behind closed doors.
So, welcome to the clubthe Flower Power Mom Club.
Its a place where you can find the honest reality in motherhood after 40, share the pain (bitch if you need to), strive to be your finest, remember the old days, and have some laughs together.
And, oh yeah, there are only two requirements of membership:
1. Acknowledge your gift: A mothers fierce, tender love, entwined with a grandmothers cup brimming with lifes wisdom. (How fine is that?)
2. Keep your dreams alive: remembermost of allto stay gold. (Recommended remedy: The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton)
Notes for this bl
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power MomThe Truth About Motherhood After 40 (www.flowerpowermom.com), a regular blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40.