This week my mother turns 71. My mother is in her 70’s and whether I like it or not, the possibility that my mother could be dead in a few years is very real. At this stage there is no indication of that happening, but the problem with old age is that health is a difficult thing to predict.
She certainly isn’t the woman she was 10 years ago. Although she has never suffered any major health ailments, old age is catching up with her. She needs cataract surgery early in the New Year; the arthritis in her neck and wrist is getting worse; and she finds it more and more difficult to get over a simple cold. Yes, old age is catching up with her.
My mother was 39 years old when I was born. And my mother looked good for her age. Still does. But the fact that her skin has held up over the years can’t disguise the fact that she may not live to see me celebrate my 40th birthday. And it is almost certain that she will not live to see any of my children get married.
I had my first child, my daughter, at 27 years of age. 2 years below the national average for first time mothers. I had my third child, my second son, at age 31 – one month shy of my mother’s 70th birthday.
If my mother passed away tomorrow, my daughter would remember her. My son would have no recollection. Although 4 years does not seem like a long time when you are talking about your late 20’s, but for my mother in her 70’s it is a very long time indeed. Every year becomes more and more precious.
My fear is that my children will not have time to forge a long-term relationship with my mother. My mother and children already miss out on time together because my mother’s frailties compared to my children’s over abundance of energy don’t match. I suppose she can read to them – there’s nothing wrong with her mind but her eyes are failing her. She can tell them stories of when she was a little girl but my children’s attention span isn’t long.
Even if my mother lives for another 20 years, I fear the quality of the relationship between my children and my mother will still suffer.
I can already see a difference between my children and my brother’s children. My mother gave birth to my brother when she was 27. My brother had his first child when he was 27. The first grandchild (my nephew) is now 17. My mother has seen her first grandchild grow up – and she has been involved every step of the way. She was 54 when my nephew was born and was able to look after him while my brother and sister-in-law went to work. Something she could not do for me.
I do not begrudge my mother for this, she does what she can for me, but it is something I have had to deal with. It is one of the many things I have had to deal with having a mother who is nearly 40 years older than me.
I know there are mothers out there who for various reasons can’t have children until their late 30’s. I do not judge because I do not know you or your circumstances and it is not my place. My story here is merely my point of view of my circumstances.
Happy 71st Birthday Mum! Many happy returns!!!
This post was originally published on my other Mum’s Word blog “I’m Too Young To Have An Old Mum”