Having my first child at a month shy of 37, and my second when I was 39, I’ve always been keenly aware that I’m what’s called an “older” mom. My super-advanced years automatically put me in the “higher risk” category with both of my pregnancies. It’s called “advanced maternal age.” I called it insulting.
I was running (well, I like to call it running. Some might call it a very slow jog, but I hate jogging; it sounds so pedestrian) two to three miles every other day up till the time I got pregnant with my son. I was the picture of health. The picture of youth, I might add (and I just did). And I ate pretty well too, if you discount my occasional brownies-with-my-morning-coffee habit. But my eggs were fresh-dated the day I was born, and were soon to expire. So I was very lucky to get pregnant with both of my kids with no medical intervention.
After being labeled “advanced maternal age” (AKA “old fart”) during my pregnancies, I thought things would go back to “normal” after the kids were born. I returned to me pre-pregnancy figure and my pre-pregnancy hair-color (I mean, seriously, I’d have been grey at 30 if I’d let nature run its course). I met neighbors and joined playgroups and always found myself the oldest mom in the crowd. Everyone was always very polite and would act surprised when they learned my age. “Oh, no, you look [insert an age that was usually five years younger than I was at the time--five makes for quick subtraction for most]!”
But slowly, slowly I’ve gotten used to being an “older mom.” Maybe it’s because I have so much in common with so many moms, our age differences don’t even come up? I don’t know. I just don’t think about it much.
Until the other day. I took a walk down our little country lane with my kids and our two dogs. As we passed by a house, its owner—who likes to hang out on her front porch which she has set up like her living room, complete with a sofa, coffee table, and lamp—called over to me in greeting.
“Looks like Grandma’s out for a walk with the grandkids and dogs!” she exclaimed.
What?! Not amused. Not in the slightest. And this woman, odd as she might be, has seen me walk with the kids and dogs dozens of times. I corrected her quickly. “Grandma?! I’m NOT their Grandma!”
She became embarrassed at her gross mistake and asked if I’d changed my hair (I had not) and then slinked away. My kids laughed and laughed, and asked me, “Are you MAD, Mom? Are you EMBARRASSED?”
Knowing a decade ago my eggs were old was one thing. Being called “Grandma” as I walk with my eight and ten year old is another thing entirely. It’s not like she could see my face—and any wrinkles or age spots—up close. I started wondering about my gait. Was I shuffling down the lane? Was I hunched? Was I doing something decidedly grandmotherly?
All I know is that I will never wear that pair of workout pants with that down vest again. Cause I think it screams “advanced maternal age.”