In Defence of Becoming a Mother at 50
A female boss taking maternity leave at age 50 is big news. So big it’s announced on the London stock exchange. Has a male boss ever had to tell investors he’s becoming a father in his fifth decade? Not likely. Well he doesn’t need to take any time off work, does he?
Laura Wade Gery’s announcement is an unprecedented event for new times.
This is the future ladies and gents.
More and more women will become mothers in their 50s. And why not? 50 isn’t even old anymore, especially if you think that many of us could well reach 100, fit and healthily. Those who have children over 40 are statistically four times more likely to become centenarians.
I find the so-called ‘ethical’ argument about women being too old to become mothers specious. It’s ageist, sexist and misaligned with the times. As I get older – I’ll be 50 myself in three years – I realise that age is a good thing. A very good thing. Mentally and emotionally I’m rock solid in deep, constantly flowing waters compared to the younger version of myself.
Physically I don’t feel any different to how I did ten years ago, when at 37 I extended my youth; taking a sabbatical from a manic London TV job to detox in Asia, reconnect with my inner strength and awaken my dormant spirituality. In fact I feel more energetic and focused now than I did with a ‘work hard-party hard’ thirty-something mentality. And my body is in great shape at 47, despite being pregnant four times, giving birth and breastfeeding three children over the past seven years.
And just a quick aside about the impossibility of establishing a career while you’re raising young children: Do you think Laura Wade Gery would be at the top of her game right now if she’d juggled her professional ascent with the challenges of motherhood? I think not. Age is her mummy trump card. She has the career clout to take a leave of absence and the financial collateral to afford only the best, which will probably include a private nanny. Younger women usually have to make the choice: Career or babies. Because it’s a hard fact of life that until conditions change women cannot compete with men at the top if they need regular time off work (and we’re not just talking maternity leave, think about when children get sick).
But I digress.
Laura Wade Gery isn’t too old to become a mother.
These women and men having children later in life aren’t just numbers – they are real people with real stories and good reasons why they’re becoming parents now.
Wade-Grey is a powerful go-getter. Physically and mentally strong she could probably outrace many younger women. If you can fight off a Delhi street-gang single-handedly, you definitely have the tenacity for the sleepless nights of motherhood. I reckon she has a lot to offer as a mum. Being 50 is a detail. Like many women who come to motherhood later it’s more of an advantage because most of us chose to live a little before breeding.
Many of us don’t find love until we’ve found ourselves. Why is that such a bad thing? Stop blaming us! We’re raised as good girls who get an education, moving on to a proper job which takes years to turn into a career. Time flies and before you know it you’re 30, 35, 40 and the child-friendly men still haven’t raised their hands.
Imagine finally finding real love: He’s the match of your dreams who wants nothing more than to share the joys and challenges of child-raising with you. You’ve worked hard at getting yourself and your life this far: You’re enjoying a purpose-filled career, financial stability and good health. Then someone turns around and tells you to forget it because you’re too old. Wouldn’t you think they were judging from their digitally biased perspective? Based on preconceptions maybe?
As we gain more insight into what constitutes for good health in old age, as we understand more about nutrition and take on a freedom-orientated mind-set we will be able to have children, more or less regardless of age. I also believe that fertility techniques will advance aligned with this new mind-set. Science is just a mirror of our evolving consciousness. Equally as science makes it possible for women to give birth later we will change our views on age and more women will manage to get pregnant naturally in their forties and fifties.
I hope you really enjoy your babymoon Laura Wade Gery.
And any other woman who is having a baby after 50, hold your head up with pride. Don’t let anyone judge based on your age!
You’re an early adopter inspiring the rest of womankind.
(A version of this piece can be seen on The Huffington Post).