I’m at the age where I have friends who have kids in kindergarten and kids heading off to college. Some became parents in their early 20’s and are now free in their mid-40’s to enjoy their lives as empty nesters while they’re still young.
There’s no right or wrong time to start having kids but as I head into my 50’s I’ve come to realize that I’m a much better parent to my ‘tween and teen girls now than I would have been at 35. Here’s why:
I realize that my health and inner beauty are way more important than my outward appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I’m slathering on the anti-aging cream and still love a closet full of cute shoes but I’ve come to realize the importance of keeping my body healthy above all else. I’ve had too many friends fight cancer, heart disease and other ailments to not realize that eating well and keeping my body strong are the most important things. I’ve taught my daughters that the celebrities and models they see in magazines have been photo shopped to the point they don’t even look like themselves. I’ve taught them that eating to be healthy is what it’s about rather than dieting to be a size 0. And I’ve instilled in them that their kindness, humor and self-confidence will forever make them beautiful and attractive people.
I don’t need everyone to like me or agree with me. There comes a point in your life where you don’t really care what all the other moms think of you or whether they don’t like your point of view. You realize that there are only so many hours in a day and they should be reserved for people who love you and support you no matter what. If I’ve offended someone by a Facebook post, so be it – it’s my opinion. This attitude has helped me teach my kids that there will be people who simply don’t like them or want to sit with them at lunch. There will be mean comments on social media. I’ve been able to teach them that it’s not worth the time or energy trying to get everyone to like you when, if they stop and think about it, they don’t really like the other person very much anyway.
I’ve stopped sweating the small stuff. Maybe it’s because at 50 I just don’t have the energy to get on their case about every little annoyance but I just don’t let things bother me anymore. I’ll admit that my youngest was the greatest recipient of this new found philosophy as when my older ones were young I was way more energetic (read uptight) and would be relentless about having them clean their room, a strict bedtime and extremely limited TV time. I’ve come to understand that if they aren’t in bed precisely on time they will still manage to get up in the morning. And if their room looks like a bomb went off some times – well, I just close the door. I definitely am a less stressed and happier mom this way.
I don’t need to be the cool mom. I’m comfortable with who I am and don’t need to relive my youth through them. Sure I like some of their music but some I can’t stand. I have no desire to wear the fashions they wear and I certainly don’t need to have their friends think I’m cool. I simply need to be a parent that is concerned about their safety and wellbeing. I want to be the consistent parent that they know they can rely upon to encourage them, offer guidance and be a safety net when they try new things. I love hanging out with my kids and having conversations with them but if there aren’t some times that they absolutely hate me for some decisions then I’m not doing my job as a parent.
I realize that bad boys are simply….bad. It took a bad marriage for me to understand I can’t fix someone. If they treat me poorly they will always treat me poorly because I allow it. We’ve all gone through that time where we wanted the bad boys because, well, they’re cute and cool and sexy. But in the end, they’re simply bad for us and will never treat us with respect. At 50 I don’t need the guy with the great body or big bank account. I need the guy with the great personality and big heart.