I was well on my way to forty when my husband and I decided to start our family. We knew there’d be issues related to our late start. We certainly move more slowly than our younger counterparts. We’ll be nearing retirement age, headed for a reduced income, just when our kids are starting college. We also knew that we had a better perspective on life than we had when we were younger. We are definitely more patient with others and ourselves. We’ve fulfilled some early dreams and are ready to settle down and focus on our children.
Several women in scripture had their first children later in life. For these women, barrenness was their common bond. Their responses to infertility, conception, and the birth of their children provide sound advice for all mothers. However, they have special meaning for those of us who are just as likely to color our gray hair as color with crayons.
When Sarah heard that she was going to be a mother in her old age, she laughed. She laughed after the birth of her son, Isaac. In fact, the name Isaac means “he laughs”. You’re going to need a sense of humor when your preschooler wants to play connect the dots with the age spots on your hand. Laugh when your joints creak as you play in the sandbox. Laugh at your toddler-tousled hair and the jelly fingerprints on your clothes. One of the best gifts you’ll give your child is a mother who doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Elizabeth had probably given up all hope of having a child when an angel told Zechariah that she would bear a son. The angel declared that John would be “a joy and delight to you” (Luke 1:14 NIV). I can only image how delighted they were with their energetic baby boy. Elizabeth’s advanced years provided her with a perspective on just how short and precious life is. Chores are never really done. But the time when you can thrill in the simple pleasures of blowing bubbles and playing dress-up is short. Enjoy as much of their childhood as you can.
We don’t know how old Ruth was when she married Boaz and gave birth to Obed. One Jewish tradition maintains that she was 40. Certainly, after 10 years of childless marriage to Mahlon, Ruth was no young maiden. On top of having a new husband and newborn son, Ruth cared for her aging mother-in-law from her first marriage. Middle-aged moms are frequently caught between two generations who need their assistance. Ruth was able to bring the generations together and allow Naomi to spend time with her precious grandson. Today’s Ruths may need to enlist the help of others to provide caregiving or learn when to say no to unnecessary obligations.
Rely on God
Hannah prayed. She prayed when her infertility made her the subject of ridicule. She prayed when others didn’t understand her pain. She prayed with thanksgiving when God blessed her with Samuel, the first of many children. She prayed in anguish and she prayed in joy. Hannah understood that children are a gift from God. Because of her faith, she was able to dedicate Samuel to God’s service. Mothers are always letting go of their children: first steps, first day of school, first time out with friends, first date. While we let go, God never does. Hannah provides us with a role model of a praying mother who dearly loved her son, but trusted God to guide and protect him.
Finally, a personal word of encouragement. My own mother gave birth to me when she was nearing 40. As a child I never gave a thought to the age spots, the gray hair, or the laugh lines. I only saw a beautiful woman who laughed and sang and loved her children dearly. I pray that my children will see the same.
(c) Karen Wilber 2008
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Karen Wilber is a freelance writer and mother of two boys. While she’s not getting any younger, she manages to stay young-at-heart.
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My "bonus" baby came when my husband was 48 and I was a month away from 38. I am a different mom than I was a decade earlier. Thanks for reminding me of the joys of being an older mom. I certainly enjoy this one more and worry less. Great job.
Very nice article and great thoughts. I would have liked to seen in expanded a bit, but that's just me.
I really like the positive spin on having babies late in life. Most women wouldn't have such happy thoughts. (Like me)
Karen, I really liked this, too. I love the personal experiences you share at the beginning. I also like how you talked about each new mom. It would be even better if you would have ended it with another personal experience, somehow. It would have really drawn it all together with a bow:) Great job!