By Noni Boon
After becoming a mother at 20 and now parenting a young child again in my 40s*, I was recently asked which end of the spectrum I preferred. Like anything in life, there are pros and cons for both experiences. I have to say that I find more enjoyment in parenting now but is that because I find more enjoyment in life overall or because parenting is somehow easier as a more mature woman? I have been pondering the question and I have come up with a few good points.
I will begin with what I find harder as a more mature mother because there are fewer points to cover here, and then I will finish with what I find easier. To start with, I have less energy for “child play”. That doesn’t mean to say that I don’t push myself and get the job done pretty damn well but I do find it slightly harder to squeeze myself into cylinder-shaped slippery dips, and jumping on the trampoline is an absolute nightmare!
I struggle a little bit with my loss of freedom. I am 45 and some of my friends are 50 and over. They have grown-up children who are independent and even leaving home. I witness their “empty nests” and envy the amount of time they have to read quietly or enjoy weekends away with their partners. My magazine reading experience is punctuated with sharp jolts to the head until I turn to see what Dora the Explorer is doing with Boots.
The long-term commitment I have entered into with child number three is a little daunting. I managed to help get two young men through school, TAFE and also behind the wheel of a car. The thought of doing all of this again leaves me slightly bewildered. My husband, being 12 years older than me, was starting to think about retirement in the not-too-distant future. He now considers school tuition, university fees and yet another car purchase as an incentive to perhaps work a little longer.
And now, what I find easier. To start with, I have much more patience. This virtue has come through having already raised two boys and gained the life experience that marries with being 45 years old. On that note, I also have much more life experience to draw from when it comes to discipline, problem solving and devising the best possible methods for all mothering tasks. I am about to embark on Lincoln’s first day at school and already know which lunches get consumed and which ones get hurled at the garbage bin.
I have more confidence in my parenting this time around because I have two successful boys to reflect the job I have already done. Even if this was my first time as a mother, being more confident and self-assured would definitely make the job easier. Being in a stronger financial position also helps. I remember clearly what it felt like to drop Harrison off at day care and front up to work for the wages being offered to a 20-year-old in 1990. It didn’t ever feel worth the effort but I had no choice. Today I have choices and that is so much more empowering.
No matter which end of the spectrum you find yourself, mothering is the single hardest and most rewarding job in the world. It is so much more important than running countries or acting on the big screen. Above and beyond anything else in my life, my role as a parent has been by far the most infuriating and the most fulfilling of them all. Mothers are underpaid, undervalued and underestimated. I have the deepest respect for anyone who takes on this most challenging role in life.
*This article is in no way medical advice and does not take into account your personal circumstances or fertility. For more information about fertility and conceiving later in life please make sure you read this article from Women’s Agenda.
Noni Boon is a holistic wellbeing specialist, international best-selling author, motivational speaker and guest writer. She thrives on working with people to achieve total holistic wellbeing and improving their lives to the point of flourishing as opposed to just “surviving”. For more information, see bidesignco.com.