It seems like a week can't go by without a new report claiming the perfect age to have a child is [insert magical number here]. Young moms are hailed as being energetic, imaginative, and flexible, while older moms are described as informed, patient, and experienced. For me, being thirty-something was the perfect time to become a parent, but that doesn't mean I didn't need continued support (and a little praise). Turns out, there are things new moms in their 30s would really love to hear.
Once you get halfway through your 30s, baby-making suddenly becomes some sort of statistical achievement. Most medical professionals will tell you there's a significant decline in fertility past the age of 35, so moms in their 30s have already "beat the odds" by getting pregnant and delivering a healthy baby. Still, many of us have to put up with insensitive comments about our age, or the life stage we were in when we first become parents.
When I was trying to get pregnant, I had one "friend" wag her finger at me and actually make a ticking clock noise while saying, "You shouldn't have waited so long." Instead of that maddening and insulting comment, I would have liked to hear more supportive remarks, like the following:
"This Was The Perfect Time"
Every new mom needs to hear that the time in which she decided to become a parent was a great time to have a child. Remind her of all her life experience and maturity and let her know she's exactly where she needs to be.
Honestly, even if you don't agree, it's not your place to say whether or not she made the "right decision." She chose this for herself and for her life, so just support her.
"Your Career Is Not Over"
Thanks to a culture that still penalizes women for choosing to become mothers (even though that life choice is often the "default" choice that most women are encouraged to make) a lot of working moms worry that taking time off to have a baby will negatively affect their career prospects. Unfortunately, and unfairly, it can often be the case.
However, by the time you get to your 30s, you have likely settled on a career choice and built up a little experience and seniority in your role, meaning your return is more protected. Hopefully.
"You're Still Young"
In terms of fertility, moms in their 30s can be made to feel that they are over the hill. Ask any mom in her 40s, though, and she'll tell you that you're still young.
"You Don't Have To Be The Perfect Mom"
Modern women can (sometimes, although not always) compare their mothering skills with their own mom and find they are lacking. This is probably because when we reminisce, we usually only remember either the good stuff or the bad stuff, and not all the days of mommy mediocrity in between.
Maybe you might recall your own mom making forts and creating art projects and having endless patience. Those memories can make you feel like you're not "perfect mommy" material. Cut yourself some slack. Your mom had plenty of self-doubt, too, and days when she felt like she "failed." Your age has nothing to do with your ability to parent well, so there's no need to try to be "perfect." Perfect doesn't exist.
"You're Doing A Great Job"
Every mom needs to hear they are doing a great job. In those crazy first few months of caring for an infant, if you're both still alive at the end of the day I say you count it as a win. The beginning truly is all about survival and you're doing a great job!
"Embrace The Tech"
We are living in an amazing time when a world of knowledge, entertainment, and information is available at our fingertips. Lots of new moms feel guilty about being plugged in or staring at their phone when they are at home with a new baby, but I say embrace all the tech!
It can keep you connected to friends and support networks, and keep you from feeling too isolated. It can provide you with a wealth of information and resources to help you with your new role, and supply you with unlimited entertainment when your babe is feeding or sleeping.
"You're Still You"
It can be pretty easy to lose yourself in motherhood, especially as a first time parent. It's important to be reminded that you are still you, even after you have a baby. Keep your interests and hobbies and don't compromise the things that make you unique and interesting. Being a mom is wonderful, to be sure, but being a mom is only part of your identity.
Being a mom in your 30s has both benefits and challenges, but you can honestly say that of any age. Becoming a parent is such a monumental change to your life, so it's bound to have both positive and negative aspects. Regardless of whatever age you are when (or if) you decide to enter into this whole motherhood thing, you'll need to hear that you're a great mom. And, well, you are!