For many boomers, the pitter patter of little feet around the house is just a distant memory – unless, of course, you count the dog. But this is another area in which many of our generation have thumbed their noses at social convention, producing offspring well into middle age. Case in point: John Travolta (age 56) and wife Kelly Preston (47) just announced they’re expecting.
Good idea or bad idea to be parenting little ones into your 40s, 50s and even 60s? This is a question I can answer with some authority: I spent my 40th birthday diapering our newest bundle of joy.
One of the first challenges is convincing your friends and relatives that this was not due to a colossal failure of birth control. I answered the “This was an oops, right?” question so many times that I came up with a stock answer: “Some people go through mid-life crisis and get divorced, some get red sports cars – we procreate.”
Back to answering the main question: There are both pros and cons to parenting young children in middle age, and I’ll discuss some of both here:
Pro – You get to see the world through a child’s eyes for a little while longer. There is something so cool about experiencing all of life’s firsts with a little one. Learning to ride a bike, fly a kite, blow a bubble, play Candy Land and later on, Clue. The first trip to the zoo, children’s museum, waterpark, and DisneyWorld. The first trick-or-treat and Easter egg hunt. And Christmas morning is just so much more magical when you have someone in the house who believes in Santa.
Con – You’re tired.
Pro – You fool folks into thinking you’re younger than you actually are. That is, unless you have a lot of wrinkles and a full head of gray hair; then people think your child is your grandkid – bummer. But I’ve been able to fool a lot of people, except when it backfires…True story: The youngest and I were standing in a checkout line when a handsome, 30-something guy steps in behind us with only a bottle of wine to purchase. I offer to let him go ahead, and he thanks me and bends down to tell my little one, “You sure have a nice mommy.” Just then, my oldest son who worked at the supermarket (and is 6 ft. tall and shaves) walks past and in a deep, masculine voice says, “Oh, hi Mom.” I could tell by the look in the guy’s eyes that I had just gone from someone potentially worth flirting with to suburban dowager in two seconds flat!
Con – You’re tired…a lot.
Pro – They keep you active and motivated to stay in shape. After all, you would like to be around if at all possible to see them reach middle age. Plus it’s much easier to avoid the temptation to become a couch potato if you have someone routinely giving you Bambi eyes while asking, “Pleeeze can we go ride bikes around the park?”
Con: Did I mention you are tired?
Yep, I must admit the biggest drawback is it’s so much easier chasing a toddler around the house in your 20s and 30s, than in your 40s and 50s. But hey, that’s what vitamins and iron supplements are for, right?
So, there you have the pros and cons of middle age parenting in a nutshell. Now if you’ll excuse me, someone in the next room is calling me, saying it’s my turn to roll. I just know it’s Mrs. Peacock in the Dining Room with the candlestick!