While picnicking at the Botanic Gardens one day, Lauren De Souza’s 2-year-old son wanted her to chase butterflies with him. The 38-year-old obliged, but had to stop frequently to catch her breath and eventually had to take a break, collapsing onto a garden chair, much to her tot’s disappointment.
“This would have been easier if you had had your child at a younger age like I did” De Souza’s 60-year-old mother told her. “You would have had more energy to play with him.”
Reflecting on her mother’s comment later that day, De Souza says, “It’s true that I would have been perkier and more energetic should I have had my son in my 20s, but then I would have also missed out so much on life as well. Also, I was such a different person in my youth, hot-headed and rash. I personally think I would have made a terrible mum.”
Delaying motherhood is a common trend in today’s modern society. In 2015, 63.6 per cent of babies born in Singapore were born to mums between the ages of 30 and 39, according to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s annual report on births and deaths.
Reasons for becoming a later-in-life-mum include the desire to pursue life-long or career goals, wishing to solidify the marriage first, not meeting the right man, or simply not feeling “ready” to have children yet.
In the medical world, by the time a woman hits 35 ― the same time her fertility drops drastically ― she is said to be carrying geriatric eggs. By the time she’s 40, only two in five women will be able to conceive a baby naturally. Women who embrace motherhood later are often criticised by society for gambling with their fertility, as well as their child’s health and well-being.
Along with age and experience comes a certain amount of wisdom. You are also better at choosing your battles and thinking critically.
While time isn’t on a woman’s side when it comes to starting a family, they can realise their dreams of motherhood later in life, thanks to medical advances and adoption options. Plus, being an older mother offers so many perks!
If age is the only reason why you hesitate to have that first or second (or third) baby, maybe these reasons will sway you in the direction of the stork!
1. More settled educationally and wiser
By the time you hit your 30s, you’ve probably added all the academic “feathers” you’ve dreamt about ― BA, MA or PhD ― in your proverbial cap. So, you’re no longer in danger of having to defer a semester because of pregnancy issues, or not acing a test or exam because bubba had kept you up all night. A known fact, too, is that better-educated mums beget better-educated children. Let’s not forget either that along with age and experience comes a certain amount of wisdom. You are also better at choosing your battles and thinking critically, less judgmental, and have a larger perspective in life, which you’ll bring into your parenting as well.
2. Attained career goals
Once you meet your educational goals, the logical next step is to realise the career you want. “I’m glad I waited to get married and have kids because I’ve always been ambitious and wanted to achieve my dream career first,” says Sandra Tan, 37, mum to Alicia, 3. “This meant working my way from the bottom and spending my 20s working late nights and taking on extra responsibilities. If I had Alicia at that point, I would have been so distracted with her and wanting to be with her as much as possible that I wouldn’t have been able give 200 per cent at work.”
3. Achieved financial stability
Joanne Tay was 35 and her husband 37 when they had their son Alex, now 4. Since they were well into their 30s when they wed and expanded their family only after several years, they not only had ample savings, they even had a retirement plan in place. “Being financially stable meant we were able to give Alex the best healthcare during delivery and as a newborn and also enrol him into the best schools,” Tay notes. “My hubby and I also don’t have to work long hours to make ends meet, thus dedicating more time to Alex.”
4. More mature
While parenthood puts you on the fast track to maturity, your priorities are different when you’re younger. You are more hot-headed, self-absorbed and impulsive. Putting someone else’s needs before yours would be challenging and you may end up silently resenting your child for taking away your time, money and freedom. While a day doesn’t go by that Thilaga Linggam, 38, had wished that she had her kids ― 17-month-old Jayshree and 6-year-old Yuvaraj ― much earlier, she’s thankful for the way things turned out. “I was so much more hot-headed in my 20s, I can’t imagine what kind of mum I would have been,” Thilaga notes. “I’m so much more mellow now, which means I don’t get flustered or upset over everything and it takes a lot for me to lose my cool, especially with the kids.”
5. Ready to give motherhood your all
You’ve conquered your career dreams, travelled the world and attended a raft of A-list parties. Now that you’re three-quarters through your bucket list, you can truly dedicate your time and energy to motherhood, without feeling like you’ve missed out on something. Concurs Mae Wong, 40, mum to Tolly, 14 months. “Being older, I’m more centered and balanced ― the very act of dedicating time and being patient and nurturing would have been nearly impossible in my 20s.”
6. The kids keep you young
Feeling like a dinosaur? What better way to wake up the dormant inner-child in you (yes, we all have one) than by hanging out with a Muppet? “My 2½-year-old son is so cheeky and adorable,” enthuses mum Rani Devi, 39. “He loves to turn on his musical mat and dance after dinner every night. On the days when adult life gets me down, a five-minute dance party with him is all I need to remind myself on how to have fun and take life less seriously.”
“Being older, I’m more centered and balanced ― the very act of dedicating time and being patient and nurturing would have been nearly impossible in my 20s.”
7. Have more life experiences
The longer you live, the more you see. If you haven’t yet started on that memoir (or online blog), get yourself organised ASAP as you will have nuggets of life lessons to impart to your children at various points in their lives. “Having travelled the world and kissing many ‘frogs’ before finding my prince means I have so many stories and lessons I’ve learnt that I just can’t wait to share with my kids later,” Tay says. “I am looking forward to giving them some solid dating advice!”
8. Are more grateful
Whether you struggled for years to conceive or did so at the drop of a hat, most older parents, especially mums, are just grateful they were able to have to have a healthy and happy baby. These are the mums who never take a day of their motherhood for granted. Even if they did, a quick reality check is sobering enough. “The newborn stage was tough to say the least,” recalls Laila Mukherjee, 40, mum to 1-year-old Rishi. “But on those days when I was ready to call it quits, I will remember how it took me only a few months after deciding I wanted to have a baby to fall pregnant naturally and how easy my pregnancy and delivery was. Not many women, young or old, are blessed in that way.”
9. Are better at handling whatever life throws at you
By the time you’ve reached your mid-to-late 30s you would have experienced your fair share of setbacks, and maybe, even the loss of a parent, close relative or friend. Life could have taken you on several detours, but you’ve still found your way back. All this has contributed to your resilience and self-confidence. Which means a 3kg baby isn’t going to faze you. And even when you’re experiencing the lows of motherhood, you have enough self-awareness and knowledge to better handle and overcome whatever obstacles that come your way.
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