How Old Is Too Old?

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard the news about the Dr who thinks women who have babies after their late 30s are “selfish” and “self-centred”. If you haven’t, you can read about it here.

“The medical side is only part of it. It is selfish and self-centred of older women to have babies because they are not just babies – they are babies for a little while and they become people.” – Dr Barry Walters

Thanks for pointing that out, Doc. You know, when women have children, we don’t think we are buying a puppy. We don’t want them because they’re cute (not to mention they cry all the time, and pee and poo everywhere) then want to get rid of them when they’re grown up because they’re not cute anymore. Actually, the older my son gets, the cuter he gets. The older he gets, the more I love being a mother.

He advised women to have their children by the time they were 37 and to have a medical check-up and be a healthy weight before they got pregnant. – The Western Australian

That’s lovely. But not very realistic. Out of curiosity, when does he think men should be finished having children? Do you know, almost all my mummy friends have been in their 30s when they’ve had their children. Some early, some later. There are several reasons for this. Some because they’ve waited until they found the right partner, until they were financially secure enough to be able to take extended maternity leave and spend the early years with their kids, because they’ve had trouble falling pregnant and/or have had miscarriages before finally getting their little bundle of blessings. The list goes on.

It would be nice if we could all fall in love in high school or college, marry our sweethearts, have a few years of a fulfilling career, easily fall pregnant and hey presto, we have our whole family complete by the time we’re 30. What did Walt Disney say? Oh yeah, “And they lived happily ever after. The end.” WAKE THE HELL UP. Life is not a fairytale!

Having a child is the LEAST selfish thing anyone can do. As any mum will tell you, once you have a child, anything remotely selfish gets pushed aside, such as sleep, exercise, adult conversation, eating a hot meal, watching a movie, peeing in peace, sex, relationships, SANITY…what was I saying?

The comments I saw on news.com.au’s facebook thread about this story baffled me. There were a lot speaking out against these ideas, saying how ridiculous they are (and they are!). But there were a few who said they were children of older parents, and now their parents aren’t well/capable enough or are no longer here to help with the grandchildren. One actually said, “Now when I need them the most, they aren’t here for me.” You’re an adult sweetheart, it’s about time you look after yourself. And if you’re after a babysitter, ask around, there’s lots of people who do it as a service! How long do parents have to be held accountable for their children??? I know our babies are our babies forever, no matter how old they are. But they need us when they are little, when they are teenagers, and yes, when they’re adults too, but much less so by then (we all hope!).

I grew up with 4 grandparents until about age 12, when my grandfather died. I still have one grandparent today. But that is not the norm. My heart breaks for my son, who has no grandfather, a grandmother on the other side of the world, and his nanna (my mum) here. It is sad that he’ll never play golf or go fishing with grandpa, but he has me and his dad, and we love him more than anything in the world, surely that is what matters the most. Not how often they get to go stay and nan and pop’s place.

Regardless of all this, when did late 30s become OLD?! 40 is the new 30, doesn’t he know? There will always be pregnant women who have health issues, there will always be women who want to have a child and feel the greatest love on earth – a mothers love. There is NOTHING like it, and is it not our right to want that? Our bodies tell us when it’s too late – it’s called menopause.

I am not saying “It’s never too late to have children!” I don’t think that statement is true. But I certainly don’t think late 30s is too late. I am not sure I could put a specific age on it, like say 47 and 3 months. I can’t. 94 and on your death bed a la Zsa Zsa Gabor? Abso-freaking-lutely it’s too late.

I was 29 when I had N, and at the rate we’re going now, I’ll be at least 34 by the time we have another one. For me personally, I wouldn’t want to be too much older – I’m thinking 35/36 might be my limit, but if at 40 I get pregnant, then it was meant to be, and that baby was meant to be here. There are times I wish I’d been married and having babies at 23. Those 6 years would have made a lot of difference in my health and ability to keep up with kids, but it didn’t happen that way. And no matter what age I am when I am finished having kids, I’ll be making sure they get the best of everything, including an aged care home for myself.

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One thought on “How Old Is Too Old?

  1. Amen!!! (Most specifically to your last statement.) It’s not the responsibility of the children to take care of the parents. The parents are still adults & still capable of planning for themselves in advance.

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