The Numbers Game
I hate that I am writing this blog post.
I hate that time marches on, and my age along with it.
At dinner the other night, Little Bit asked me if I wished I were 27. I answered that I couldn’t remember what life was like at 27.
Little Bit was undeterred by my deflection. “I mean,” she said. “Don’t you wish you were, you know, younger?”
In my head I said, “Well, of course I want to be younger, fitter, more energetic, and so on.”
But I replied, “Well, I’ve learned a lot in these past 53 years, and I’m probably a better parent for it.”
“Yeah, but K’s mom is only 27,” she said. “So when she dies, K will probably be 60 or 70, but when you die I will only be 20.”
“Or,” I said, ignoring the fact that my daughter thinks I’ve only got 11 years left, “I could live to be as old as your great grandma and you would be 50 or 55 when I die.”
“Yeah, but you’ll probably be in a nursing home for most of that time,” said my little pessimist.
And there we had it, the secret truth that we older parents
try to ignore -- our kids have done the math, they know that we are less likely to have the quantity or quality of life as their friends’ parents, who are mostly 10 or 15 years younger than we are.
Age is a huge topic in the adoption world and, like many pre-adoptive parents, I had my cut-off point -- the age at which I imagined I'd be too old to adopt a newborn. For me that number was 45.
I play the role of parent to my twins quite energetically. Despite my advanced years, I’m their Brownie leader, their chauffer, their at-home tutor, their classroom helper, their talent show coordinator, their dance cheerleader, their cook and laundress. You know, their mom
But because of my advanced years my children fear that I’ll die and leave them.
Let me tell you, that is a sobering thought. And one that should be considered by anyone over the age of 40 who is considering adoption.
I know that none of us knows for whom the bell tolls, and that any of us could walk into the path of an 18-wheeler tomorrow. Little Bit knows that too. We’ve lost friends much younger than I am to accident and disease.
To be honest, I recognize the benefits of my being an older parent. I am more patient, more settled, better able to focus on parenting, and financially able to stay home.
But I’ve had the same worry my daughter expressed about not seeing them through their adulthood. That’s why I’ve kept a journal for each of them for the past 10 years, detailing their history, little bits of advice, and funny stories
, in case I’m not around to share them every Thanksgiving when the family gathers.
I’ve surrounded my family with younger moms and friends (and have a husband who’s six years my junior!) who can offer support and be good role models if I’m not here.
Of course, I plan to be here. I plan to cry at weddings and play with grandchildren. But I also realize that choosing older parenthood is more complex than knowing you’re capable of parenting when you make the decision. You need to think about the future and how you’ll parent when you’re 60 and your child is 10.
Because your child will.
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