Why are we so obsessed with age and ageing? We all know that ageing happens and that we cannot physically stop it, we all know that our look will change, attitudes, behaviours and life-choices, too – but why are we, as a society, so obsessed with age?
Yesterday I did a bunch of TV and radio interviews about Robert De Niro having his seventh baby at the age of 79 (see replay here of Good Morning Britain appearance) and I was asked multiple times if I thought he was too old to be a father. One TV show I was on used the title OAP PARENTS, another preferring to ask Is Robert De Niro Too Old To Be A Dad?
I am an ‘older mum’ because I had my last baby at 43-years old. Some people, medics included, would call me a geriatric mum which is the term sometimes used for women who are pregnant over the age of 35. Please know that I use the term geriatric mum tongue in cheek, it is awful – but women are still being called this today. Other terms used are older mother, advanced maternal age and raised maternal age. When I was pregnant in 2018, my NHS consultant said her term of choice was advanced maternal age and that she believed this was 40+ and not 35+.
Whenever a celebrity is pregnant over the age of 40, I get messages from producers and journalists asking if I want comment. YES is always my answer – and here’s why.
I want to talk about ageing in general, the benefits of being an older parent, the benefits of ageing and to share my experience of being an older mum, so that others can hear from someone living it and not from the constant negativity around us. You see, when I was pregnant at 42, I had to deal with a lot of negativity – it was not particularly kind and it hurt. Luckily, I turned that negativity into something positive and I started this blog with the idea that connecting other older mothers would be helpful.
Ageing, for many, brings confidence. Personally, my values and beliefs are clearer and life is no longer a mental battle ground. At 16 my confidence and self-belief declined. I wasn’t doing well and although I went off to University and got a degree in Sociology, I wasn’t the bright confident girl I had once been. I bumped and crashed through my twenties, drinking, partying and generally messing things up a bit, and although my thirties were much more balanced – I still had little-to-no confidence. Without confidence things are hard. I had two children in that decade and was loving being a mum, but I still felt like my own worst enemy.
Six-months before my 40th birthday I’d had enough. Knowing I was going to be the big four-oh triggered something in me and I knew I had to fix my low confidence. Mid-life crisis? I don’t think so, but Life Begins at 40? Absolutely yes! I felt compelled to work on myself because I was getting older. I can honestly say that my life did begin at 40 and although I didn’t have a big party to celebrate (I wasn’t ready), I entered my forty-first year on earth full of vigour and, if you are around my age you’ll remember this from the Thierry Henry Renault Ad, Va Va Voom. See the cartwheel video below!
Back to the title of this post; why are we obsessed with age and ageing?
My personal take is that people are scared of illness and of dying. My dad agrees with me. We’ve had the chat a few times, he’s 79 and full of Va Va Voom too – and his belief is simply that people don’t want to die. What do you think?
There is also a huge obsession with looking good and looking young, for men and women. Whether this is because of store shelves packed to the rafters with anti-ageing products, the constant feed of youth-promising ads, beautiful people in glossy magazines, social media filters or the advance in aesthetics and cosmetic procedures is up for discussion, but the fact remains most of us want to look young.
I feel in a curious paradox of not wanting to be 25 because I was immature and lacked confidence but lust after my mid-twenties wrinkle-free complexion. On that topic – I have tried botox (for teeth-grinding and frowning) which I will write more about one day, but right now I am botox free. I am absolutely cool with women having treatments and injections, I don’t pass judgement – which you will know if you’ve been following me for a while. Another plus for ageing – you learn to not care as much about what others think of you and about what others choose to do with their lives – it really is a case of you do you, and I’ll do me.
I see age as wisdom, experience, stories, people, places, words, smells, the good, the bad and the ugly too – fundamentally ageing is LIFE.
I’d be so keen to hear what you feel about ageing – are you feeling better than ever? or feeling worried about your ageing appearance and achey bones?
I’m taking HRT and am exercising 3-times a week – which is all pretty new for me – but I do feel like things are positive. I can still cartwheel, I love taking my kids swimming and I look after myself (less boozing more supplements!) and I’m embracing ageing with all I have got.
Get in touch if you’d like to share your thoughts on getting older. All opinions are valid and there is never any judgement from me – that was the old (young) me.