Sometimes I wonder why I waited so long to have babies. Oh I know the official reasons: didn’t meet my husband until 30; wanted to travel, pursue my career; ambivalent maternal instincts. But never mind all that. What was I thinking?
I ran into a friend from MOPS the other day. I struggled to recall her name even though she was someone from my second go ‘round with Mothers of Preschoolers. Not that long ago really since my daughter is only six. Still, it seems like a lifetime has passed since I rushed off each Friday morning, baby in tow, to join my pre-selected group at a table of twelve. Week after week I’d scarf down runny-in-the-middle egg dishes, glue beads on ditsy little crafts and make small talk with other new mothers who were, for the most part, about half my age. No wonder I’ve repressed so much of it.
Don’t get me wrong. Like many first time mothers I desperately needed the adult interaction MOPS offered; it was supposed to be a way to connect with women who were experiencing the same season of life – with all of its unique joys and challenges. It promised a chance to make lifelong friendships while bonding over discussions of cloth versus disposable, to binky or not to binky, and what various shades and textures of poop actually mean. Trouble was, I had my first child when I was just shy of 40 and none of the women I met were actually in my season of life. Like me they were comatose from 3 a.m. feedings, obsessed with developmental milestones and blindsided with love for their Baby Gap-attired tykes. But there the similarities ended.
I remember spending several weeks struggling to find some common conversational ground with my table mates. But really, how do you discuss anything of consequence with a woman who has the word Juicy splayed across her BE-hind? I found myself checking my watch while humming Steely Dan’s “Hey Nineteen” when I realized I was almost old enough to be what MOPS calls a mentor mom; someone who has raised her kids and can help teach the young’uns a thing or two. And then I went to a dark place in my head. I did that thing where you begin calculating: “When I’m 50, my son will be starting puberty, and when I’m 60, my daughter will be picking out prom dresses, and when I’m 70...” And I then I thought, not for the first time, that they really should have MOPS at night so we could have cocktails instead of coffee cake.
Eventually MOPS did deliver and I connected with several women my age. Wonderful, smart, amazing women who, like me, began their journey down motherhood lane a few years past their reproductive primes. And as promised, these mid-life moms have become my lifelong friends, my girls, my better-than-therapy answer to every curve thrown my way. We celebrate and commiserate as we share the same season of life with its unique joys and challenges – hot flashes and Happy Meals, frown lines and fruit snacks, Barbie and Botox.
We also share an optimism that comes with the wisdom of age. Because now if the kids don’t sleep through the night it’s of little consequence. Neither do we. Kinda makes you wonder.