Late last month I officially entered my mid 30s. I was looking forward to this day much like a trip to the DMV. In addition, two gentlemen, not much younger than I, referred to me as “ma’am” during the past week alone. I had only three birthday requests: finger lickin’ good fried chicken worth every single calorie, an exercise class to rejuvenate my body and spirit, and for both kids to nap for at least half an hour, at the same time. As the impending day approached, I found myself reflecting on the past year more so than previous birthdays. 33 was quite a year that included celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary, moving across the country with two under two, a new position for my husband as a financial advisor and, most importantly, the arrival of our son.
The average age for first time mothers is 25 years, according to 2006 data from the Birth Data File, National Vital Statistics System, at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Biology indicates the ideal age range to enter motherhood is our late teens and early twenties. However, sociologically the best age may be defined as the stage during our lives in which we are financially stable and wiser from life’s experiences, which in most cases means our thirties and forties.
So, what is the perfect age to enter motherhood?
Is it in our late teens and early twenties when our bodies can bounce back quicker, boast more energy to chase little ones and have younger grandparents to be an active part of their lives?
Is it in our late twenties and early thirties when we have completed higher levels of education, traveled the world or perhaps celebrated a few wedding anniversaries?
Is it in our late thirties and early forties when we have achieved professional and financial success and are invigorated with life’s experiences to share with our children?
Alternatively, does it have nothing to do with age and more with our current life stage? Or circumstances in which we feel pressure from family and friends? When we start to seek happiness through the eyes of a child or look for a best friend for an only child? Or when we feel the clock ticking?
Mom, Dad: “I’m pregnant!”
I recall the reaction from family and friends when we announced the news of our first’s impending arrival. One response stood out for me, “I never thought this day would come.” I was confused. Was I too old? Having had Elia at 31, and Tomás at 33, I believe these blessings arrived at the “perfect” time for our family. Despite being at the height of my career, my newly acquired skills as a mother came at the “perfect” time in my architecture career. Now that I am in my mid 30s, I possess more maturity, inspiration and vigor than ever before.
However, I acknowledge that entering motherhood was easier for me than some of my fellow friends. It is painful to hear about fertility issues, health complications, relationship and adoption struggles and miscarriages, even more so being a mother. Stories shared with me have made me sensitive to the innocent question, “Do you plan to have kids?” as well as, “Do you plan to have more?” For this reason, I consider motherhood a blessing at any age.
34 started beautifully. It was a tantrum free day, both kids napped at the same time for over an hour, I ate not one, not two, but three pieces of the most succulent fried chicken at Dooky Chase’s Restaurant with my hubby, and was even able to sneak in a Barre3 class with my youngest sister. To complete the day, I arrived home to an intense smell of chocolate. My husband managed to prepare a delicious homemade triple chocolate bundt cake while watching the two and even cleaned the kitchen. Thanks to the only birthdays celebrated by the little ones, he could only find candles with the number “2” and “1.” I felt 21 for those forty seconds as I was serenaded with “Happy Birthday.” As I blew out the candles, I felt intensely happy at that moment surrounded by my growing family…and no dirty dishes!