Guest post: The joys of being an older parent

kate kerriganKate Kerrigan (@KateKerrigan) is a novelist (Recipes for a Perfect Marriage and TV Bookclub Summer Read Ellis Island) and print journalist (Irish Mail). She’s also a mum the second time round, unexpectedly becoming pregnant again at age 45. What’s that like? Well, she’s tired for a start…

Being the mother of a (surprise!) baby in my mid forties has been easier than I had imagined. I have the money and the contacts for the best childcare, and although I have frightened myself by calculating that I will be sixty-five before he finishes his education, I am infinitely more laid back and less neurotic than I was with our first son. I am not afraid to stick him in his playpen in front of the telly so I can have a shower, and it’s not the end of the world if he eats his lunch out of jar.

Being older means that I have a more laissez-faire attitude towards parenthood and that is why I believe he is an easy, good-humored baby. Also, I am more independent. I realize that this little creature is only on loan to me for as long as he needs me. At ten months, Tom is already flying about – already more interested in poking at the dog and eating twigs than clinging to my breast. Having fulfilled my urgent ambition to be a mother with my eldest son, Leo, now ten, I now enjoy the freedom of knowing that this new child needs me more than I need him.  He is a temporary gift and I enjoy each moment I have with him to the full.

It makes me sad when single, childless women say that my late pregnancy has given them hope, because the one thing I do believe is that having a healthy pregnancy and a perfect child at forty-five is not the norm. I still envy younger mothers the freedom they will have when they are my age and have their children reared.

I am tired a lot of the time – working and baby-minding are the only things I do.  The “me time”, social life, travel and building my dream eco-house have gone by the wayside. I worry about my health and his future, that I won’t have always have the energy to be the good mother I want to be for both my sons. Then I bring myself back into the day – I look at my gurgling, bouncy baby boy I feel the exception of his existence rush through me in a flood of gratitude.  I am renewed every time he smiles at me, I forget I am tired and know that I will have the energy to love and cherish both my boys until the day I die – and that will just have to be long enough.

–Kate Kerrigan, Kate Kerrigan.ie

Morag Prunty, pen name Kate Kerrigan, became unexpectedly pregnant at 45 with her second child. The author of ten novels, she is now attempting to finish her latest book while chasing after an energetic 2 year old. City of Hope, the sequel to Ellis Island, will be released in the UK on March 29.

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5 Comments

  1. 05 March 2012 / 15:03

    Loved this post – not just because of your happily ever after “late” pregnancy but because you let moms of all ages off-the-hook for a lot of the stuff they judge themselves for anyway. (-:

  2. 05 March 2012 / 16:11

    I can relate. Already having 10 and 7 year old kids, I had my “surprise” at 41. To say I was devastated is putting it mildly. This was not in the plans; I didn’t want a child who was so much younger than his siblings; he should have been born about four or five years earlier. To be honest, if it hadn’t been such a crap pregnancy, I probably would have had another one as his playmate, but you’re right, healthy pregnancies in one’s 40’s aren’t the norm and I couldn’t take the risk.
    I too worry about the fact that I’l be an old mother (and grandmother) to him; I feel sorry for him that in two years’ time both siblings will be out of the house. Yada, yada, yada. I could go on, but he’s also a very happy boy, bloody hilarious and, as everyone says, will probably keep me young one day – ’cause at the moment I feel about 102!

  3. 05 March 2012 / 19:10

    My mum had me at 42, and I don’t feel it’s at all a bad time to have a child. It’s also really interesting because my mum’s had so much life before I came along so she has a lot of stories to tell! I went the other way and had my surprise when I was 16, which I’m glad of. I think there are great things about having children at any time of life, and also things that you are going to worry about any time of life too. Guess we have to cherish the blessings when they happen!

    • 06 March 2012 / 16:47

      Indeed! As my mother said when I tearfully announced my last pregnancy, “Well, more fool you for thinking that you were in charge of things.” (She was actually much more supportive than that makes her sound!)

  4. 09 March 2012 / 07:25

    I just loved your blog..Its good to heard about your happiness at the age of 45.