For the life of me I couldn’t figure it out. I was dropping off one of my children at pre-k and every mom who walked in looked to be no older than 25. At the time, I was in my late 30s/early 40s. My noticing these young moms went on for weeks and I couldn’t grasp what was niggling at me. Finally, I was talking to my oldest daughter Amber, now 24, when the realization hit me square in the face: “Ooohhh, I’m an older mom now.”
Ahh, graceful parenting as an older mom…
I’ve spent more than half of my life as a young mom. In fact, when I’m around my oldest I’m still referred to in that way. When Amber was in high school she couldn’t figure out why all of her friends were having so many issues with their parents. They’d share with her what was going on and she couldn’t relate: ‘I don’t have that type of relationship with my mom.’ She says it was as if she had sprouted another set of eyes given the way they were looking at her. Eventually, friends would see me and comment on how young, nice and cool I am and they would finally understand the differences in their experiences with their parents.
Amber often shared with me dilemmas her classmates were having and I would offer my advice, which she passed on to those friends. She became the go-to teen counselor and I realized that my age can serve as an advantage to help others – to expand my parenting if you will.
Being an older mom of young children who are now 11, 10 and 8 has been as interesting of an experience as being a young mom is. Besides the necessity of figuring out how to keep up with these busy little people, I’m figuring out how to interact with their friends’ parents. Despite my shock at the way other mothers interact with their children I’m able to maintain my decorum.
There is a certain attitude and open-mindedness I have to maintain in order to interact and relate with other younger parents. I call it parenting with grace. Parenting goes beyond being a mother to my own children; it’s about being a maternal figure to many children regardless of their age.
Instead of being admonishing I take on the role of a concerned older sister. Instead of telling them what they should do I ask them to consider my advice. Instead of giving them the older mom stink eye – you know the one – I try to keep a smile on my face.
I’m not always successful in my efforts to relate to other parents, but I’m on the right track. About four years ago I befriended a young mother in my youngest daughter’s class and I’ve done my best to help her over the years. As of today, we are still friends and lately what has surprised and honored me is her reaching out to me for advice. I’m finally in that place where I parent with grace to all who need it.