A girl I knew in high school recently had a surprise fifth baby and captioned one of her midnight feeding pics with: “I’m too old for this.” It made me laugh. Mostly because we’re the same age and here I am just starting my little family. It also made me wonder if motherhood would have been easier had Thomas arrived nine years earlier when I was twenty-four.
When I was 21, I once pulled three all nighters right in a row to finish my final art project. At the time, three nights without sleep didn’t even seem that hard. Neither did waking up at 5:00 every morning for two years straight. Now when Tommy sounds the alarm at 5:00 am, most days I feel like I am going to die.
People assume that because we’re a little older being parents is going to come easier. That we are a little more prepared, a little wiser, a little more financially stable, and a little better able to cope with life’s challenges. Maybe we are, but we are also a little slower, a little more tired, a little more prone to injury, a little less likely to hide the effects of midnight feedings, and a lot more used to life without a baby.
I guess it’s impossible to know if 24-year-old-us would have made for more energetic and capable parents. Maybe we would have just traded energy for naïveté. Either way it doesn’t really matter. I’m 33 and I’m a first time mom, that’s just the way it is. It’s not how I would have scheduled things, but in retrospect, the timing seems altogether perfect. And you know something, I would have happily waited eight more years for this perfectly adorable baby.
And more tired or not, something miraculous happens as a mom, even at 33 years old. Yes, even at 5:00 in the morning! Somewhere between my warm bed and his bedroom door, all that reluctant exhaustion turns into genuine excitement and I can hardly wait to see my baby boy. By the time I reach his room I’m always smiling like an idiot. I can’t help myself, it happens every single morning. My sleepy squinty eyes belie my inner enthusiasm and I am talking to him even before I see him. His crying stops the minute he hears my voice. There’s a baby in that room, and I get to be his mama. Every single morning that makes me happy.
I think that kind of mama joy makes up for a myriad of faults, including my relatively late entry into mommy-hood.