Thursday, 20 September 2012

Older Mothers Are Selfish

That is this week’s pronouncement. Fragrant TV presenter, Kate Garraway, 45, has publicly announced that she would like a third child. The nation is up in arms. Allegedly. Indeed the debate is so fierce that it even reached that renowned arbiter of the nation’s tastes, This Morning, earlier this week.

Fragrant Kate, looking suitably fesity and attractive, was up against some harpy who had her children in her twenties and therefore felt it necessary to tell everyone else that they should do the same. Needless to say, the harpy was far from fragrant, attractive etc, lacked humour and warmth and did not elicit a great deal of sympathy from the nation’s sofas.

Far be it from me to say that twenty-something mom was wrong in her choices, but nor is fragrant Kate. It is a fact that the average age of first-time mothers has increased exponentially in recent years, and if, as the Daily Mail tells us on a mind-numbingly regular basis, there are hundreds, nay thousands, of teen mums out there, then there must also be hundreds, nay thousands, of proud, happy 'geriatric' mums too.

Being a proud geriatric mum myself (first child at 38, second at 40, both textbook healthy pregnancies and incredible births resulting in wonderful, beautiful babies, third and more to be arranged…), I couldn’t give a monkeys what the harpy, the 'Daily Fail', or anyone else has to tell me about my choices.

Like many women in this modern age of ours, I was far too busy working, studying, travelling and having fun in my twenties to even countenance having a child. Nor did I meet any man I would have deemed suitable for having a child with, although that part looked doubtful through most of my thirties too, but that’s a different story.

There are many, many reasons for the ages at which people have their children and, like other people's marriages, actually it's none of your damn business harpy and co.

Older mums are no more selfish than young mums, or those who choose to have one child, or those who choose to have ten, or those who choose to have none. We are all, by our very nature, selfish.

None of us have children unselfishly, whatever age we are. We have children because we want to love them and worship them, and teach them and learn from them, and because we believe, somewhat self-centredly, that we can give them a good life, however we choose to do that.

That is the case whether their conception is planned and conscious, or accidental and even initially unwelcome. It is true whether we are 16 or 26 or 36 or 46 when we have them. Having children IS selfish, but raising them and loving them and parenting them is not, whatever age we, and they, are.

One of the arguments used by the harpy was that the children of older mothers may become our carers, well that's possible at any age, and depends on many circumstances.  Are we to tell people who have chronic illnesses or disabilities that they can't have children for the same reason?

The supposed ogre of Down's Syndrome was also raised.  Also quite possible in a 20 year old having a baby by the way, although statistically yes, less likely.  Speaking solely for ourselves, we didn't bother with testing, knowing that we would love our baby whatever happened, and feling very uncomfortable with the potential genetic engineering of a society which allows the abortion of a healthy, live foetus on the grounds that it might be different.

This is, as so often, a nice little sensationalist story which engenders ill-conceived, ill-informed knee jerk reactions to gain prominence they do not deserve, and another way to beat up on mothers.  Ah what a lovely, easy target we mamas are if we dare to step outside the perceived norms!

Good luck Kate, I hope I’m still having beautiful, incredible babies at 45 too.

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  1. I was told I was a 'geriatric' mother at 30!!! I was absolutely furious and told the midwife so!

    1. I think anyone over 25 is officially considered geriatric! We'll have to go back to Medieval times and get married at 12 at this rate!

  2. Brilliant post, AM. Bloody sick to the back teeth of this new culture of parents who are under the impression they can dictate to others. As you quite rightly point out, it's no one else's damn business.

    CJ x

  3. Brilliant. Cheered me up! any excuse to blame women of childbearing age for anything at all, sigh. At the moment i'm battling with the idea that 'Single people are spoilt' after someone said this in my hearing ... but that's another story ;) I think you are doing a brilliant job of being a loving mummy and any woman can do so at any age, so there!!! xxx

  4. I was an older mum too. I had my first at 27 and felt lost and scared and was mourning my loss of my nights out and socialising. I was a young 27. I then had my other two later at the ages of 36 and 39. I was prepared then and didn't need to go out and party anymore, I was settled more experienced of the world and in a stable organised environment that suited me and my babies.


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