My BMF (Best Mom Friend) is 19 years younger than me. We were thrown together by our kids, who became friends a few years ago in 7th grade.
We had our heads together recently, enjoying some “throwback” videos on her amazing new iPhone, and a song came on from the early 80s.
Me: “Oh, well, that is my era because I graduated in 1981.”
Friend: Pause . . . “I was BORN in 1982 . . . ”
Then we both doubled over and cracked up, laughing. We had not been drinking sangria . . .
Because it doesn’t matter.
We have bonded over our kids in the here and now, and it doesn’t matter that I could have been her babysitter back then.
It doesn’t matter that we are on kid #2 entering high school and have been through this before. Or that this is her first child, and her family’s first time to deal with freshman year… at a huge suburban-Oklahoma City high school.
It doesn’t matter that I have more grey hairs than brown ones, that I now pluck my chin and draw on my eyebrows. It doesn’t matter that she is young enough to still be fertile and that I am years past that stage of life.
Because no matter our ages, we are joined in our concern for our kids. We both keep a watchful presence beside them as they clamber over the obstacles of freshman year. I check in with her and she with me via text: “How’s Okla History going? Did you hear about what happened at lunch today? Ugh, do they have to do a science fair project?”
Not our first rodeo . . .
We went through all of this already with my first daughter, my extrovert-actress-overachiever daughter. It will be a whole different journey with my youngest, who is more of an introvert-choirsoprano-dreamyartist daughter. And that is how it should be… some of the landmarks may be the same, but this is her journey and it is the first time for HER to be a high school freshman.
When I had my second daughter just three months shy of my 39th birthday, I was focused on the usual newborn-parenting things: feedings, diapers, and sleep. I wasn’t really thinking about how old I would be when she entered high school.
Now that I am approaching my mid-fifties, I have come to accept with amusement the surprise that being an “older parent” causes.
When we go meet one of Janie’s teachers for the first time, there is always a little hesitation when they say hello. It’s as if the question is going through their head, “Is this Mom and Dad that I’m meeting, or Grandma and Grandpa?”
We joke a little about our grey hairs, and my husband usually embarrasses our daughter by blaming them all on her. (Those dad jokes never get old, do they?)
What’s so great about being an older parent?
There are many advantages to being an older parent. Especially for me, the confidence brought by just more years of living makes being an older parent a role I wouldn’t trade. I feel more settled, stable, and serene now than I did two decades ago, and I think we are better parents now than we were back then.
Often, we are the oldest parents in the room at any PTO meeting or Open House event, but this doesn’t bother me. In fact, if we come to a meeting and there are not enough chairs available, a younger couple may stand up and actually give us their seats! Not to mention the many wonderful new mom-friends I have made through the school years. Most are several years younger than me. They keep me feeling young, and they also show me how to work a smart phone.
Another surprising part of being an older parent is that we are looked on as experts in parenting.
We are asked parenting advice on everything from how to put drops in the baby’s eyes to getting kids to do their homework. Like most parents, we have learned through trial and error what works (for us!) and what doesn’t.
Every school year, our daughter grows smarter and taller. My husband and I grow a little grey-er and perhaps a little wider. But we also grow in thankfulness too, that we have been given the role of a lifetime in parenting our children.
I wouldn’t trade our experience as older parents for anything in the world.
Besides, every day we get older brings us closer to our planned retirement gig of playing Santa and Mrs. Claus. I can’t wait to hold some babies again!