Numbers Matter

Since having my first child at 29, I have often wondered what the right age is to become a mother.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average age of a woman in the US having her first child is 25, but in my neck of the woods (Boston), it often seems more like 40.

Women go to school for years, then they start their career, then they get married and then they get around to babymaking. This means that a lot of moms I meet are more than a decade older than me and most of them women my age remain childless.

And while I always enjoy meeting any mother, I am often lonely for mommy friends my own age and am envious of those my age who can still see movies whenever they want, stay up all night, sleep all day and travel to the far ends of the earth.

Then again, both of my children are strong and healthy (knock wood) and my pregnancies were easier to achieve. And while I know that women of any age can experience fertility issues, I avoided any of the ones related to age by having my babies young.

It seems I am somewhere in the middle. I grew up in Ohio where many women I know had children at 20 and 21, so at my age, they have freedom I can scarcely imagine with little ones the ages of mine. Plus, they will have empty nests in their early forties.

Those who waited even longer than me have more financial stability than we do, they live in bigger houses and generally can offer their young children more, but they lack the energy of younger parents. I am struggling with the sleep deprivation and keeping up with my dynamic toddler, so I cannot imagine how I would do it a decade from now.

So what is the “right” age? Is there one?

Sasha Brown-Worsham is a freelance writer whose monthly column runs online at The Family Groove. Her work has appeared in Pregnancy, Runner’s World, Self and many other publications. She lives in Boston with her husband, daughter, son (and a cat and dog).

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