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by: Better Not Younger
May 06, 2022
Motherhood isn’t one size fits all. Just as there are all sorts of moms, the role each mother plays evolves with each passing year. As her children grow and their needs change, so too do her responsibilities and place in their lives. From nurturing toddlers to disciplining teens to raising responsible young adults who will one day have children of their own—a mother’s job is never done. And what a comforting notion when we reflect on the indelible impact she’s had in our lives—as a caregiver, a teacher, a confidant, a friend.
But motherhood isn’t only redefined with the passing of time. Women having children later in life has challenged the notion of what motherhood looks like for a woman in her 40s, 50s and beyond. The realities of motherhood at 50 look infinitely different when she begins her family at 40 versus 20—making grade school graduations more common a celebration than blissful “I dos.”
Better Not Younger went straight to the source and invited three mothers, in three different stages of motherhood, to share their unique experiences, from the joys of watching their children grow to the challenges they’ve faced along the way. While some may have swapped bedtime kisses for evening FaceTime chats, each mother’s story is special and inspiring. Their words are powerful and poignant—and beautifully illustrate motherhood in midlife and beyond.
Chami is a 43-year-old mother with two kids, ages 5 and 8. She balances a full-time management job from home with school runs, playdates, extracurriculars and volunteering—with a pinch of traveling and salsa dancing squeezed in. She and her husband met in London and now live in New Hampshire surrounded by beautiful woods and water with the kids, a 100-pound Mastiff and a Betta fish named Blueberry. Chami is originally from Sri Lanka and her husband is from Australia, so with grandmothers on two continents, her kids get plenty of cross-cultural fun.
BNY: When you were younger, in what stage of motherhood did you see yourself in your 40s?
As a child, I always thought I’d get married in my 20s and have grown children by my 40s. Like all kids, I considered 40 to be “old.” In reality, I got married in my mid-30s. But I know I became a mother at the right stage in life for myself, and I am where I need to be.
BNY: How did you imagine motherhood would be?
When I was younger, I always imagined how I would do things “when I am a mother.” I’d be a young, trendy, energetic mother who could do it all and have it all. I always thought I’d be an amazing, dedicated mother while also being the woman I’d always been—independent, spontaneous and adventurous, traveling the world and possibly living in different places with my kids. Not sure I had truly figured out exactly “how” I was going to do all that! But like I say, nothing can prepare you for the realities of motherhood.
BNY: What have been the greatest stresses of having young children in your 40s?
Being older parents means you likely have less energy and patience to keep up with younger kids. But I remind myself how quickly this time will pass and I try to find the kid inside me to live in the moment with them. I also miss some of who I used to be before kids, and it’s so much harder to be that person when you’re juggling work, motherhood and responsibilities. I realize that it will be another two decades before I can go off and live life for myself again. I also wonder if I’ll be around to see my grandchildren and be active enough to enjoy them—but you can’t have it all and I am happy and grateful for where I am in my life.
BNY: What aspects of motherhood have been the most fulfilling?
I have always loved children and there was no question I wanted to be a mother. Knowing the unique love and dedication a mother feels toward her children and seeing how it becomes my primary purpose in life has been the most fulfilling for me—as well as seeing my children grow and thrive with my advice and, at this stage, how much they cherish our relationship and their bond with me. I know how precious and fleeting this can be and I treasure every minute. Sometimes, it’s the little moments of laughter, comedy and giggles that give me an overwhelming sense of fulfillment.
BNY: How has it been to balance your career and motherhood?
Life is just “organized chaos” for me and it has been this way since 2012, which is when I officially started to work from home—and it ironically coincided with the birth of my first child. As challenging as it is to try to focus on work while being home with kids and chores surrounding me, I think I’ve figured it out, and I actually thrive! Working from home gives me the chance to work full time and still be there for my kids and not miss much of their lives. I get to volunteer at their school, take a work break and spend some time outside with them, pop out for a walk with them and the dog during the day and have a flexible way of life.
BNY: When you think about the future, what do you look forward to most?
I am trying to hold on to this stage as I have heard horror stories about the teenage years so I’m not sure I have thought about what to look forward to with motherhood in the future! I do hope we get the opportunity to travel more as a family both locally and globally before they are off living their own lives. I am excited to see what type of adults my children will morph into and wonder what type of relationship we will have as adults.
BNY: What do you hope to bring to motherhood as you age?
I want to show them more of the joy of parenting and the ability to balance and enjoy all the chaos. I also hope I can show them the importance of not losing themselves in parenting, trying to keep their identity and being true to themselves while also focusing on self-care.
BNY: What do you feel is your most important role as a mother?
To be there for my children and for them to know that I will always be there for them and that they can come to me no matter how good or bad things get in their lives.
BNY: What qualities do you feel are most important for you to carry with you as you move through future stages of motherhood?
Authenticity, honesty, calm, confidence and the ability to always let my kids know they can talk to me about anything.
BNY: What moments of self-care do you take to recharge?
I need to get better at this. The few things I do occasionally are take time to sit and read in silence with a hot cup of tea when my husband takes the kids out, call my friends to relive our youth or vent about life, use a shower steamer for a quick aromatherapy experience, or go shopping alone so I can leisurely browse every aisle—even if I buy nothing! On a larger scale, I try to organize trips to meet up with friends every year or more, if possible, and when it gets warmer, I try to squeeze in some salsa dancing.
Sonsoles married in her early 20s and had her first child at the age of 28. Her second and third children would follow only a few years later. She and her husband raised their children in Caracas, Venezuela until the summer of 2003, when they moved to the U.S. Up until then, their lives revolved around extended family—grandparents and many cousins. Now a party of five, a lasting closeness would develop between them, making visits back home to Venezuela and family support something to cherish even more.
BNY: How has motherhood in your 50s been different than in your 30s and 40s?
My children are now my friends. They are grown-ups with whom we spend grown-up moments—and it is so enjoyable. We can cook together, talk on the phone and joke around. At times I feel like the responsibility has been lifted off my shoulders, and I’m proud of what they’ve become. I’ve learned to accept them as they are and I’ve stopped putting unnecessary pressure on them. I just want them to be happy and to treat others with kindness.
BNY: What are you most nostalgic about?
I always think of the time when they were all under 5, and filled with innocence. The way they discovered the world—it was all so precious.
BNY: What makes motherhood in your 50s better?
I now have a sense of accomplishment and pride that’s hard to describe. To see them doing well and being happy makes me so happy. But I also love to see that they are actually interested in the advice I give them, which they hated in their teens!
BNY: What makes motherhood more challenging now?
It is true when they say “Small kids, small problems. Big kids, big problems.”
While they are babies and toddlers, their problems are usually those that you can actually fix—a broken toy, a bruise that you make go away with a cute Band-Aid. As they grow, you realize how much less you can help them with adult problems—a relationship that’s not going well, the ability to find a job they like. It can be painful to see them suffer and not be able to help.
BNY: Which is more stressful, raising teenagers or toddlers?
My kids were all good teenagers, so I didn’t find parenting during this time to be particularly stressful. And I actually enjoyed seeing them discover dating and going to the prom and dances. Toddlers were stressful to me because I just didn’t have the patience to play with them—it’s the honest truth! Plus, toddlers require so much attention and care.
BNY: What about being a mom in your 50s brings you the most joy?
I love when we can all get together, which we usually do around holidays, birthdays and other special moments. It is not very often that we are altogether, so just having them all in the same room brings me joy. I love seeing them interact as siblings, recalling stories of when they were small, and even how when they are all together they make fun of Mom when she just doesn’t understand something—usually related to technology!
I hope to continue to teach them how much potential there is in each and every one of them. Having become an entrepreneur at 52 and being so involved in Better Not Younger now at 57, I am able to show them how rich life can be at any age. But more importantly, how each of them can fulfill their dreams and passions.
I cannot wait to be a grandmother!
BNY: What worries you or causes you concern?
I worry about them staying together closely as siblings even after me and my husband are gone. In Venezuela, that would’ve never been a problem, people stay in the same city forever and family ties are very, very strong. But the U.S. is a big country and each of them are pursuing their own interests, which will most likely require them to be far from each other. I hope they remain close siblings even as they each form their own family.
BNY: What advice would you give your younger self in regards to motherhood?
Spend as much time with your kids as possible because soon they will grow up and begin their own lives. I often think about how sometimes my kids wanted to do something and I would say no because I just dreaded it—like going bowling in a loud, crammed place on a Saturday night! Now I look back and I wish I had done more of those things.
At 65-years-old, Fereshteh is a mother to four children (ages 35-43) and a grandmother to a 3-year-old. She spent much of early motherhood as a stay-at-home mom, but once her children grew up and gained independence, she started her own business as an aesthetician with her own skincare line. Fereshteh is originally from Tehran, Iran where she met her husband. They moved to California shortly after marrying, where they reside today. These days, Fereshteh focuses on her business, health and spending time with her family and friends.
BNY: How has your role as a mother been redefined in your 60s?
It has become even more delightful. I can enjoy all aspects of being a mom. I truly value my time with my children and grandchildren. Having 4 kids at a very young age, I now have less responsibility and can really enjoy being a mother. I also recently became a grandmother—Serena is the love of my life! She reminds me of when my kids were young, though I can truly enjoy my time with her versus when I was a mother because I was always just so busy. I also know so much more now, and I know what’s important.
BNY: How has your relationship with your children changed as they’ve grown older?
Before I was always working to be a great mother. Now that my children are grown up, I feel like my children are my closest friends. The roles have also reversed and they are always watching out for me. They’ve also grown up and gotten married, and I feel so blessed with 3 great in-laws. Seeing them with the right spouse makes me feel content.
BNY: When you were younger, what did you imagine motherhood in your 60s would look like?
Honestly, I didn’t have much time to think about it. I was so busy with 4 kids at a very young age. I think I thought of myself as feeling older at 60, but I feel so much better and happier than what I expected!
BNY: What has become easier about being a mother?
Less worrying about my kids. Having more time to pamper myself. I’m able to focus on my own health and well-being. I’m also working now and I have time to enjoy life. Being a mom also motivates me to take care of myself so my children can be proud of me, like I’m proud of them.
BNY: What has become more challenging?
Staying healthy and in shape.
I get very emotional—my kids are my light! They were so cute. I remember how good they were to each other and how they looked after each other.
BNY: Which decade of motherhood has been the most fulfilling?
My 30s—I had young children and I loved it! They were so young and cute. I love kids so much.
BNY: What do you bring to motherhood now that you didn’t before?
More wisdom and calmness. I have all the years of knowledge and less life stress.
Sit back and enjoy every moment. Your kids will be fine. Don’t worry so much about their future—it’s all about enjoying every moment!
BNY: How has your maternal role evolved as a grandmother?
Being there for my granddaughter, playing with her, watching her learn and grow…I can truly enjoy her every second. There’s less worry, so I’m really able to experience everything that she does that much more!
Tell Us: What stage of motherhood did you enjoy the most? Share your favorite memories in the comments below!
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