Today is my 40th birthday. But there will be no big party and no wild celebration — not even a single margarita (my favorite) will be had. Instead, you’ll find me on my porch swing with my feet up, enjoying my vitamins with an ice cold glass of water this morning as I plan a quiet dinner with my husband and son, and some quality time with friends and family this weekend.
Because, not only am I old, I’m also pregnant. And to be honest, I couldn’t be happier about both.
I’ve grappled with some intense emotions this year as I’ve come to terms with my age, my late bloomer status in starting a family, my plummeting energy levels, increasing gray hairs, and the overall state of my life. There have been extreme ups and downs, a few pity parties, but mostly joy and happiness that I am lucky enough to be having another more wbaby after believing for so long that I never would, and a peaceful acceptance of turning 40 and being exactly where I am in life right now.
I always thought I’d have children early in life. I’d graduate college, meet a nice man, get married, have kids, and be pretty well settled by 30 or so. But 30 came and went, and while I had found my man, we were still years away from starting our family. But the beautiful thing is that I spent all those years having fun, building my career, working on myself, and growing as a person. I had the luxury of focusing on me, on seeing to it that I grew up for a very long time before I also had to be responsible for raising someone else.
By the time I had my first child at 36, I was more than ready to be a parent.
It’s strange, but at 36, I still felt young. I felt vibrant and energetic and alive — brimming with goals and aspirations, ready to take on the world. Then somewhere, over the past few years, something shifted. I don’t necessarily feel old now, but I no longer feel young and free, no longer so naive, so green, so ready for anything. I feel more mature, wiser, more set in my ways. Less willing to tolerate drama and nonsense. Less willing to care so much what others think of me. I don’t know if this shift is the result of becoming a parent or simply growing older, but I believe it’s a positive shift that will serve me and my kids well as we continue growing together.
I think there is great beauty in being an older parent.
For me, it means that I had plenty of time to sew my wild oats and was ready to settle down and focus on kids. I’m more stable in life, more financially secure, have a greater sense of who I am, and I’m more rooted in my community. I’ve worked through a lot of my issues, learned to listen to my inner voice and trust myself and my instincts. And all of this means that I am able to model more healthy behaviors for my kids, I’m better able to show them how to live.
There are, of course, some true disadvantages to having babies later in life that my husband and I are working through. My babies will never know their Papaw Chapman or Mamaw Mac. They won’t have all of their grandparents around to love on them and help mold and shape them, and this breaks my heart. There is also the very real dilemma of my husband and I having far less energy and physical ability than we did in our 20s and 30s. And while we try our best to be healthy and take great care of ourselves, we can’t turn back time and be 20 again. We’re just going to have to learn to live life being generally exhausted and in need of sleep at all times — at least for a while until we’re out of the baby and toddler stages.