I read an article the day before yesterday.
It was one of those sponsored link things on Facebook — ‘you might find this interesting’, kind of thing — and I did find it interesting. And immensely irritating.
It was a piece by Dr Pixie McKenna, for The Telegraph; the title being
‘I had my first baby at 40. Would I do it again? Don’t ask…‘.
In the first para it states that ‘older mums have it hardest of all’. What??
It goes on to say that ‘older’ mums can find it harder to adjust; it changes the dynamic of your life and ‘it’s only when the bump becomes a baby that the hard slog begins’.
I found this article infuriating.
None of the points raised really had anything to do with age.
Surely every woman — regardless of age — finds the arrival of their first born a massive culture shock? Nobody’s born with an inherent ability to morph into an Earth Mother as soon as they’ve popped out a baby! Motherhood is a steep learning curve — admittedly some women take to it like ducks to water whilst some struggle — and ultimately it will change the dynamic of your ‘old’ life. These are not age related issues at all — they’re just standard issues faced by every new mother. Regardless of whether she’s 20 or 40.
I bloody hate these satirical articles. Especially when it comes to child-rearing. Often they’re written in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way but in this instance — although the piece was laced with black humour — it is pretty obvious that Dr McKenna didn’t enjoy her introduction to motherhood half as much as I did.
She says ‘Thinking you can jostle a baby, a job and still enjoy a social life is to be seriously misinformed.’
Pah. Speak for yourself Pixie. I run my own business; I had 6 weeks off when the twins were born but have been juggling motherhood and work ever since. Admittedly, I work from home, but I work — and work very hard — nonetheless.
And as for still enjoying a social life…?
The arrival of The Twinkles hasn’t impeded our social life one iota. We — and all our friends — have an incredibly hectic, colourful social life and, to be honest, having the babies has only added to this. Granted, you have to plan in advance a little more and impromptu get togethers just need a little creative thought to make them viable — especially when baby sitters are few and far between — but it is possible.
She goes on to say…
‘You evolve from being the ‘girl about town’ to the ‘girl in the dressing gown’. Even the midwife sometimes looks at you a condescendingly, presumably thinking you’re a ‘selfish career woman’ who put the big lights and late nights first – before considering a family.’
Really? These thoughts may have been going on in your head but not in mine.
A neighbour came round shortly after the Twinkles were born and was incredulous that I’d got make-up on.
‘Jeesh’ — she said — ‘I didn’t manage to get out of my dressing gown for the first 6 months, let alone bother with any slap…’
She was in her early 30’s when she had her baby so, again, this isn’t an age thing. It’s a state of mind.
Personally, I don’t feel human some days unless I have a bit of lippy on plus when the babies arrived I wanted to do anything to make things feel vaguely ‘normal’. Putting a bit of make-up on and getting dressed each morning was incredibly empowering. I could face whatever life threw at me because I was feeling prepared. Plus, I associate staying in my nightclothes all day with being ill. No wonder people feel out of sorts if they choose to loll around in their PJs when their new additions first arrive.
And I never — for a second — felt as though the midwife was ‘looking at me condescendingly’. If anything, the opposite. She said on a couple of occasions that she was in awe of how I was handing everything. And I’m not blowing my own trumpet but I had two babies to deal with Dr McKenna, not just the one.
The article goes on and on… some of the points made me smile but most I couldn’t relate to at all.
I have LOVED my experiences of motherhood. My lovely boy is one of the reasons why I have had an easier ride than some; when you have a partner who takes the lion’s share of the early shifts, it’s easier to start the day in a good frame of mind.
But why shouldn’t he? He is their father, after all, and the childcare should be shared. Where does it say that it’s the sole responsibility of the mother to do the night shift/early feeds?? If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, fair enough, but we weren’t.
I guess everyone’s experiences are slightly different.
It’s not often I feel like writing a response to something I’ve read but the points in this article really resonated with me. And not in a good way.
I felt that it was really negative — and ‘ageist’ — and for any pregnant forty-something woman reading it, she would have been scared witless about what’s to come.
To a 40 something new mum from me…
Well, to that woman, I say ‘don’t worry’.
Some things about being a new mum are going to be incredibly hard — and tiring — but others will be so much easier than you anticipated. Just take each day as it comes. Put the baby down for a nap in the morning, go and have a shower then put some lippy on. AND GET DRESSED. You’ll feel so much better for it :)
None of the points in that article are anything to do with being an ‘old mum’, they are everything to do with being a ‘new mum’.
Regardless of your age.