Old Momma Bear
I became a mother late in life. First child at thirty-three, second one a month after I turned forty, and third one week after my forty-third birthday. My youngest is now ten. (You do the math.) I figured that having my kids late in life would do one of two things: I would go to an early grave, or I would stay younger longer.
Both results are manifesting simultaneously.
All three children were born with shovels, and all of them dig my grave from time to time.
I can still out-roller-blade my youngest, but my thirteen-year-old daughter is now better than I am.
She cannot, however, hang from her knees off the play set at the park. I still have her beat there.
Being an older mom has great advantages. Wisdom is one. Patience is another.
Discernment is yet a third. The most valuable commodity an older mom can have is a sense of humor. What else is there when your pubescent daughter starts her menses at the same time you begin menopause? I am convinced there is some Higher Order that has the outline for Janet’s Divine Plan, and orchestrates life events in such comedic tragedy that I can’t help but notice. She got cramps, I got hot flashes. Faced with this Divine Irony, I was struck dumb. “It’s simple, I can either laugh, or I can cry. But the choice is clear.”
I choose to laugh. When my daughter was nine, she said to me, “Mommy, you are the best and most smartest mommy I know!” Touched, I replied, “Honey, hang on so mommy can record you saying that.”
“But why, mommy?”
“Well honey, because in just a few short years, mommy will become the stupidest mommy you know, in fact, I will know nothing! But I want you to know that I forgive you for saying that ahead of time, as long as we start talking again before you’re thirty.”
“Oh NO, mommy, I would NEVER call you stupid!” she replied, her eyes big and round.
“Hang on sweetie, let mommy write this down!”
Wisdom comes from age. I have the benefit of many years of hindsight, unlike my younger counterparts. Wisdom tells me that there are very few Big Deals. Losing basketball games, getting in trouble for talking in class, none of this causes me to get rattled. Not even when my oldest got in trouble at the age of twelve for drawing a stick penis on a stick man. I will never forget the horror in the principal’s voice when she called me at work.
“This is Mrs. X, your son was in computer lab with a first grade ‘buddy.’ Their assignment was to use Microsoft Paint to illustrate a story written by the first grader. Your son’s buddy wrote a story about walking his dog. Your son drew a stick man walking a dog, and then added a penis!”
I think her voice actually trembled.
My eyes rolled. “Oh good grief! First of all, it is perfectly normal for twelve-year-old boys to be thinking about penises! Secondly, I wasn’t aware that my son had a ‘buddy’ for computer lab. Whose brilliant idea was it to pair twelve-year-old boys with six-year-old boys for a picture drawing session?!”
Further conversation made it clear that this woman thought my son was a pervert and in need of help from the school counselor. I intervened with the swift mighty roar of an older momma bear. I assured her I would handle the problem, and told her that if my son needed counseling I would take him.
When he came home from school, I called him into my room.
“So let me ask you a question … would you draw a stick penis for your six-year-old sister?”
His mouth fell open. “No mom, I would never do that!”
I clipped him upside the head. “Then why would you draw one for a six year old that you don’t even know?”
Issue was settled.
And without counselor intervention, thank you very much.
I still chuckle when I remember that woman’s voice on the phone. She had offered to fax me a copy of the offensive picture. I had declined her offer, but couldn’t resist asking her why she had a copy of it in her desk.
So far, no one has mistaken me for my childrens’ grandmother. I attribute this fact to money well invested in hair dye, good eating, lots of exercise and a daily vitamin and herb regimen. No plastic surgery … yet.
I reserve that right. My face lift ought to coincide with my daughter’s boob job, in the divine comedic order of my life, that would just fit perfectly. But I try not to think about it.