Friday, February 23, 2007

Thoughts from an "Older Parent"

We've all heard the saying: "Wisdom comes with age." But what we haven't heard is that becoming a parent later in life isn't necessarily better. Sure, it's true that older parents are more settled and secure with their lives -- both emotionally and financially. They have often thought long and hard about becoming a parent and feel confident in their decision. What they may not have is the energy they need to be a parent, keep up with the housework and still feel good. I find myself in this category a lot more than I would like.

As an older parent, I feel I keep up with my one-year-old daughter pretty well. I chase her around the house all day and only use her pack and play when it is necessary, such as when I need to do laundry, write a few bills, etc. I do my best to play with her as much as possible and teach her new things every day.
I try to save my bigger household tasks for when she is napping (which isn't much) or when my husband is home. I feel it is important that she have a loving, fun, attentive mom as well as good teacher.

However, there are times when I just feel too exhausted to participate. I find myself watching instead of doing. I am still close by, usually sitting right on the floor with my daughter. However, I may not be teaching or explaining something to her. I may not be silly or fun or entertaining. Or I may still be doing those things, but with a lot less enthusiasm. Sometimes I feel bad for not being more interactive or energetic. I want so much to fill my daughter's days with fun activities to help her learn and grow. But I am human. I am 38, not 24. I just don't have the energy and drive I once did.

Do I wish I had children younger? Of course, I do! But then I wouldn't have the wonderful child I have today. So, despite my lack of energy, I wouldn't change the way things turned out. What I would like to change, however, it how I take care of myself. I believe that with age comes less energy, but I also know that my age is not the only source of my tiredness. When I became a mom I forgot about myself. I do this all the time. I don't eat well. I don't drink enough water. I rarely relax or rest or give myself time just for me. How can I expect to feel energetic when I never regroup and recoup?

Yes, it may be true that I lack the energy of a 20-something. But I am wise enough to know I can reclaim a little of my youth by doing what I did when I was younger -- taking care of me. Then maybe I can do more than just keep up with my daughter. Maybe I can actually feel good while I'm doing it.

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