How Women Over 40 Are Crushing Motherhood For the First Time
My five-year-old lay on the floor outside his room flailing as hot tears streamed down his cheeks. The tell-tale red spots that appear on his face when he’s upset had reported for duty along with his cough and sputter that foreshadow throwing up because he is so upset. This bedtime tantrum was ramping up, and he wanted everyone to leave him alone.
For the last week or so, he’s been ruling the roost at bedtime complaining that his bed is too hard. He claims he absolutely, positively, can no longer sleep in his own horrible, terrible, no-good bed. It’s like a rock. And the headboard wiggles. (Actually, it bangs, as he so passionately demonstrated this evening.) Everything is wrong with the bed!!!
There are a handful of reasons that women over 40 are crushing motherhood. Being one of these mothers, I feel compelled to raise my glass to those of us mamas over 40 who are crushing it more often than not. Even if it doesn’t always feel like we are.
As a Mother In My 40’s I Can Be Relaxed (Ish)
My decision to become a parent at this age provided me the luxury of immersing myself into every drop of the experience. I’ve sewn my career oats and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything or spend any time wondering “what if?” I know what life is like working outside the home, and now I’m experiencing this one.
And because I’ve made a decision not to return to the practice of law, I’m not anxious about maintaining those contacts or worrying about when I’ll go back. So I can relax with my boys knowing that my primary purpose day to day is to be here for them.
Women Over 40 Have Strength
As a Type-A, you can bet I spend a stupid amount of time reading lots of parenting advice out there trying to be the “perfect” parent. I do the reading. I work at this like I’m researching a legal issue before trial. But, I learned shortly after we brought my oldest home, that advice is just that – a suggestion about something that worked for somebody else.
My confidence after almost 25 years of adulting before having my son gives me the strength not to follow any parenting advice that doesn’t make sense or that I know will just simply not work for me or my children. I don’t care what anyone else thinks of my parenting decisions – I hold tight to what I know, in my heart, is the right thing to do for each of my boys. I follow my heart and trust my instincts.
I Can Appreciate Grace
I’ve done enough adulting to know that accepting the grace of others can feel like weakness. And accepting the grace my children so often offer feels like I’ve failed them. I know I’m not perfect, and plenty of times I mess up. But I try to both apologize and thank them for forgiving me, being patient with me, or for whatever form of grace they offered me.
I have times when I don’t feel like my boys deserve my grace. There are times that I’m angry, hurt, or both and I don’t want to offer my grace. But these boys are such tiny spirits, still learning their way through the world and their place in it. I can’t deny them grace, because the truth is, they always deserve it.
I Appreciate Their Individuality
I’ve encountered and worked with so many diverse people and personalities that I can spot and appreciate the differences in my boys – both the profound and the slight. Knowing that parenting isn’t one size fits all, I make adjustments in my parenting for each boy and each situation.
Women Over 40 Are Courageous
My courage is always a work in progress. And as it grows, it makes me a better mother. On my best days, my confidence that I am making the right choices for my boys is a life-saver. Because sometimes, the decisions that are right for them are not the easy choices to make. And they hurt. But you make them because you know they are the right ones.
Do you remember: “This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Yeah. Now I get it.
Returning to the Tantrum
So how did I handle the tantrum? After being initially angry, I quietly walked past my son in the hall and sat on his brother’s bed in their room. I told him that I was only here to keep him safe and I was going to sit here while he was feeling angry.
I sat in the same room with my son and calmly assured him that he was not alone. I calmly assured him that these huge feelings of anger and frustration would pass. And I continued to sit in the room and he began to calm down. I asked if he would like to see something that I ‘drew” for him on my phone. He said no.
I love great “quick wins” as a mom and this is one of my new favorites! I explained that this big feeling wouldn’t last long – it would pass right through him. And then I was quiet. Eventually, I asked him if he would like to “draw” something.
He was tentative, but agreed. Then he couldn’t get enough. Art can be a terrific way to express emotions that we can’t quite put into words – for adults and children alike. Creativity is something we crave and it’s part of our humanity, and it certainly helped my son regulate his emotions that evening.
And then his final creation before falling asleep snuggled next to me, whispering “I love you, Mommy.” THAT is crushing motherhood at its finest.
And I would never have been able to respond this way to a screaming child before this season of my life. Never.
Now it’s your turn – click here to join our PRIVATE facebook group, Inspiration for Midlife Mamas, and come share a moment when you crushed it!