I was the accidental product of older parents. A bonus child, as it were. By the time I came a long Mom and Dad were as laid back about parenting as they apparently were about birth control.
I probably would’ve taken this fact for granted but my sister, Lori (the closest in age to me with a nine year difference) told me often while making me touch the electric fence as penance.
This generously imparted knowledge left me with a Rainman-like reaction to electrical shock of any kind and the desire to wait until my thirties to have a child. I reasoned that as an older parent I would be able to avoid giving birth to a sociopathic child who enjoyed torturing younger kids and avoid stretch marks in my twenties.
Look, my Mom’s stomach was a road map of maternity and I wanted to spend my twenties in a bikini. Yes, I was shallow. Let’s not judge.
Well as luck would have it (and by “luck” I mean a rampant fear of commitment) I did wait until I was older to have children. Even older than my mom. I had to have special tests for elderly pregnant ladies and everything. Who says I can’t stick to a plan?
No seriously, who says that? It’s not nice to talk about other people behind their backs. I have feelings, you know.
Anyway, I’ve been very happy with my decision for the most part, but last night I was lying in bed after a particularly taxing bout of ineffective parenting and I started thinking about the down sides of my plan. Nothing is perfect. Not even Meryl Streep (but don’t say that out loud in Hollywood).
- First of all, let’s address the stretch marks issue since it had such an impact on my decision. If you’re going to ask your skin to perform the greatest of all hat tricks and stretch over an additional human, you want to do it while you’re still producing some collagen and your skin has all of its elasticity. Later on your skin is going to stretch out and then give up, much like my father in front of prime time television. And despite what I thought in my teens, you don’t stop caring about your looks and life in general when you hit 40.
- Also, grandparents are more valuable than gold. Aside from being the only people in the world who want to watch your kids without a salary attached, they will also keep your kids supplied in quality socks, underwear and the type of frilly dresses that you would never buy but little girls go ape-sh!t over. You want to get grandparents while they are still alive and young enough to care. Let’s face it, when you’ve gotten to the age where you’re deaf and in a diaper, you don’t get as excited about tiny sticky humans. My kids only have one set of grandparents left and we have a team of doctors forcing them to stay alive. It’s a lot of pressure.
- When you’re young you think you know everything. There’s a certain freedom in that. You don’t have to constantly second guess yourself. You are free to blissfully screw up your children with complete confidence. I agonize over screwing up every day, which ironically doesn’t make me screw up any less. It just takes the fun out of it and screwing up should be fun. Like a Van Wilder movie.
- Parenting is stressful and it’s hard on a marriage. If you get married and have children young you have the chance of getting through the challenging years and then rekindling your marriage while you and your spouse are still young enough to travel without breaking a hip. Or you can cash it in while you’re still young enough to take an attractive picture for a dating website.
- One word: resilience. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m more fragile than I was at 25 when I thought that knees magically went on working forever and at 2:00 a.m. I have a hard time caring about anything other than another four hours of uninterrupted rest. You have to have a fever, the likes of which could start a house fire and make you speak in tongues to rouse my empathy at that hour and even then you’re guaranteed terrible parenting the following day.
So there you have it. Now you can make an informed decision, justify/regret the decision you already made or just pour yourself a cocktail and ignore this post all together. Personally, I recommend the latter. I also recommend Tylenol PM, so that you don’t lie in bed crafting lists like this until all hours of the night. Trust me on this.