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How My Older Mom-Hood Began

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Before I became a parent at age 39 the allure of babies was a total mystery to me.

My experiences with them were more conducive to birth control than procreation. Whenever I got on an airplane, inevitably I’d be stuck next to or in front of the screaming, squirmy twin of Satan. The one exception, I remember, was a cute, well-behaved baby, sitting next to me on her mother’s lap. Until she coughed up the cud of a cracker onto her little palm and sweetly wiped it on my suit sleeve. Yeah. Good times.

So the maternal instinct never really kicked in for me.

Neither did the “step-maternal” instinct when I fell in love with Dave -- who was the father of 5-year-old Ryan. The only stepmother I knew of was that wicked woman who locked Cinderella in a closet then went and talked to some creepy mirror about “who’s the fairest of them all.” But Dave was the real deal for me, and I convinced myself that I really wasn’t the type to lock Ryan in a closet (although since then I’ve come darn close) so I decided to take the leap and marry his dad. Boom! Insta-Mom!

Two years later, along came Sam, followed 18 months later by Alex (both girls). And now I “get it.” How parenting can be the hardest and the most wonderful thing all at the same time. How parents need miracles sometimes just to make it through the day. And how many miracles our kids bring us at the very time we’re considering putting them on e-bay.

Which brings me back to Ryan, my now 15-year-old stepson who - like many of us who marry and/or start a family later in life - first introduced me to the mania and miracles of parenthood. If you find yourself standing on the precipice of step-parenthood, what Ryan taught me in the following story might help you navigate the leap (or at least laugh a little as you free-fall into the experience). Read on.

Expectations of Being Ryan's Mom

I never knew that angels could come disguised in snips and snails and puppy dog tails. This is the story of one who did.

Ryan was a mystery to me. A flurry of a five-year-old, chock-full of chatter. This "being," this busy boy-child of my soon-to-be, beloved husband, was soon to be my step-son. And I was terrified.

Add a Comment3 Comments

Wonderful story! Honest, powerful, humorous and uplifting. Having children has helped me be a better person than I ever thought I could be, and that journey continues. Seeing the world through their optimistic and innocent eyes makes it easier to find simple and constructive solutions. Adults can unnecessarily complicate things!

October 1, 2010 - 7:52pm
HERWriter Guide

Great post and great read, Kris - thank you!

I was never one to coo over babies or dream about motherhood. After an evening with children, I loved leaving them and popping my birth control pill. Kids were ok...for others!

I used to hold my breath on a plane when parents walked on with kids and pray "please god not near me....please god not near me..." Now I see others with that face when all five of us get on, lol! And at the end of the plane ride, people have often said "I dreaded all your kids near us but they're awesome!" I secretly beam with happiness. They are cuties.

I waited till my mid 30s to begin my family too and now they are 5, 4 and 3 years old and I adore them! I adore them so much it's overwhelming and scary sometimes.

We're instinctive about our kids and we'd protect them with our very lives. And we never get it until it happens.

I'm still not mad about other people's kids, truth be told. I'm not the parent who is dressing up as a clown at parties to have fun with all the kids.

And I do know my kids can be demanding at times, and want every ounce of my energy all day long. They fight among themselves and can drive me crackers on a bad day. Because like any young, it's their nature.

But I also know my kids are fun and polite kids who tend to make people laugh and smile, rather than cringe and have made my life much fuller and much better. It really is the hardest job you'll ever love.
And I'm more patient now with other kids and I have a connection with other parents that I never had before.

I definitely know that it was right for me to wait to have kids. I'm a much better "older" mom than I think I would have been had I been in my early or mid 20s. I needed that time for college, for dating, traveling, being self-focused and making all my mistakes! I gladly handed over my self-absorption. It was getting old.

I'm glad you get along so well with your husband's ex. It can make all the difference for you as well as all the kids involved.

Thanks again for your great post.

January 4, 2010 - 12:30pm
(reply to Susan Cody)

Thanks Susan! It's so great to hear from another happy "later-in-life" mom! Doesn't it make you proud when your kids are the well-behaved ones? I have yet to take my kids on an airplane, but when I do, I hope I am as successful as you have been. (Please feel free to share tips!) I look forward to our future correspondence...Happy New Year! -Kris

January 4, 2010 - 1:09pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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