This Old Mom - Race Relations

Aw, Is that Your Grandbaby?

Posted: January 6, 2018

Top Ten Crap Things about Being An Old Mom

This Old Mom - Old Yeller1. Other people. You will get eyeballs on you. When they ask “Aw, are you her grandma?” just smile and say, ‘No, I’m just her really old mom.” That will: a) shut them up, b) scare them off or c) get you a compliment/apology. Bonus, d) they will think twice before asking that question of anyone else ever again! You’re welcome.

2. Font sizes. Your kid’s sick, you’re tired and stressed and you can’t find your cheaters when reading dosing directions on baby meds. The font size is only legible to toddlers, who cannot read yet. Keep Poison Control on speed dial. You’re welcome again.

3. When your kid’s in their twenties you’ll be officially old, which is the best incentive to take exemplary care of oneself starting right now. Red wine is a superfood, right?

4. Menopause and mothering. It’s going to be hard on your husband. There are options other than sweaty rages and peanut butter binges. See Night Sweats & Night Feedings?

5. Your parents are older too. They won’t be able to babysit as actively for your kid. But my grandparents had dentures in their forties… so it’s a toss up.

6. Font sizes. C’mon Children’s Book Publishers! Parents need to be able to read in dim, sleep-inducing light at all hours and children learn to read from your books. Font it 18 or up. Ink’s not that pricey!

7. Curiosity. Especially if your child is a different race. While educating folks about adoption is awesome, we don’t want to be asked “Why didn’t her real mother want her?” in front of our child. See Race Relations or Advice Without Judgment for information about educating others about transracial adoption!

8. You will be old enough to be the parent of many of the other parents at preschool, elementary school and beyond. But they are (almost) all great people, because they were raised by hippies, or hippie-adjacent type people.

9. People will tell you, ‘When I’m your age, I hope I’m like you.’ Which is a compliment, but it’s also payback for all the times you said that to older wiser people when you were a young, snot-nosed git.

10. Being old is hard. Even if you firmly believe age is just a number, your fifties are the ‘warning years’. Two glasses of wine takes more recovery time than it did when you were 30.

Top Ten Great Things About Being An Old Mom

1. You’ve done all your clubbing/partying/road-tripping. You’re thrilled for a great reason to stay home.

2. You’re more patient, experienced and empathetic. You already know how to handle crazy people, so kids are relatively easy to deal with.

3. If you were raised in the 60s, or parts of the 70s: as long as you don’t parent like your parents did, you’re doing an incredible job.

4. Since you survived your twenties, thirties, forties and childbirth or adoption, you know how not to sweat the small stuff. Watching your kid freak out over truly small stuff won’t freak you out.

5. If you have older nieces and nephews, you’ve already done tons of pinchhit parenting, so you have experience, and your older nieces and nephews will love caring for your kid.

6. Hand me downs. We have clothes lined up until she is seven.

7. When you do get to sleep, it will be well-earned, deep & profound.

8. You will feel younger just chasing them around. All their physical energy will rub off on you. Until it doesn’t.

9. Showing them (and young parents who just don’t know) the truly violent, funny, racist and sexist Bugs and Mickey Mouse cartoons of your childhood.

10. Children organize your lives. What’s truly important becomes infinitely clear. To care for someone who not only needs you but requires you is a great antidote for the crazy boss who likes to make you think they can’t really function without you.


  • Laura Numeroff January 15, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    This web site ROCKS! It’s HILARIOUS! Kathleen really knows her stuff! And, crap! I can’t wait to read it all!

    • Sarah April 15, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      LAURA NUMEROFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!! If you give an older mom the baby of her dreams…..

  • Judy Carman March 15, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    It is one of the great joys of my life is witnessing Grace doing the happy dance and squealing, “Mama’s here!” I feel like doing that now that your blog is public. I’m not just saying that because I am your mother. I want to share your stories with the world.

  • Jenny Eakes March 15, 2015 at 10:28 pm


  • Mary Jane Hussey April 18, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    I love your website–layout and content. You have a constant and true fan.

  • petra law April 19, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    what a lovely place to get acquainted with others ‘walking in your shoes’… to be able to share and put into words what ‘this’ reality really does entail.
    and Kathleen, your truths bring it all into perspective cuz it aint easy raising kids whether your’e young or old, there’s just a different spin to the perception and experience!

    we just gotta love the snot out of the littles and our parents simultaneously & keep cheering them on as they journey ahead!! all the while embracing our own needs… how does that work? LOLl!! keep reading this blog… right? 🙂

  • Mary-Beth April 25, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    LOVE this blog Kathleen! You were a bright light for me when my husband and I were struggling through a third failed adoption. So happy to say that we have been parents of a beautiful sweet boy who is now 2 1/2 and I don’t know where the time has gone. As an “Older Momma” with night sweats that woke me up only to night feed etc. I have been laughing out loud at this blog and feel deeply comforted that I’m not alone. Thank you for making my night ( And thank God my son FINALLY fell asleep : )

    • Kathleen Dennehy April 26, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind, lovely words! So happy to be of help! Get some SLEEP!!

      • Kathleen Dennehy April 29, 2015 at 10:32 pm

        Gosh Mary-Beth- I sure hope I replied to this sweet email. Thanks so much for reading. And for being an old mom and for not being afraid to mom, no matter what. Happy New Year.

  • Jerseygirl May 2, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    This stuff doesn’t even pertain to me, and yet I read it because it’s so good:)

    • Kathleen Dennehy May 11, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      Jerseygirl! I’m from Long Island- exit 34! Thanks for the kindness and the support!

  • Monnae Michaell January 4, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Love love love love love- can’t say it enough your writing and wit! Turning 50 on Sunday with 3 1/2 year old. I love being this age with the joy of my life (son). When people say- aw your grandbaby is so beautiful…. or os tjat upir grandbaby… Sometimes I say nope – he’s my child and watch them swallow their impending throw up or see their eyes flutter like a Vegas slot machine- but sometimes I let them off the hook… I say- it’s ok-I’m old enough to be his grandmother, but I’m his mom. He got lucky- he has two in one.

    • Kathleen Dennehy January 7, 2016 at 10:38 pm

      Monnae– please know that if I knew this email was here I would have replied with love and adoration months ago. I’m so sorry for the delay but am grateful for the love. Please feel free to share your story!! I adore your humor and bravery!! Happy New Year and enjoy life with your kid… it’s the best worst thing we’ve ever done. Amiright?!???!!!

  • Jodi Rives December 12, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Having a ten-years-after-the-previous-“baby”-baby at 40 has been quite an experience. And that kid is a different kid than the others. She starts her musings about the future with qualifications like–“When I graduate from high school–if you’re still alive…” and “Even though you won’t get to meet my kids because you won’t be alive anymore…” And she has already told me she will find me a “nice one.” A nice place to be buried, that is. Interestingly enough, she doesn’t seem upset by these things–just realistic. She can clearly see that my mortality is different in her life than in her siblings’ lives (they being married or engaged or moved out)–and she has apparently come to grips with that idea. I hear the same thing from my other “old” parent friends about the tail end baby–they just see their relationship with us and to time differently than earlier kids.

    I got to have the experience of being the youngest mom in the room and now I am at the extreme other end. Most days I get asked if I am my much younger husband’s mother or my daughter’s grandmother. Some days, it’s hilarious. Others, not as much.

    I got to have the fun experience of having “Advanced Maternal Age” stamped–STAMPED, there’s a stamp for that–on every page of my OB chart. And getting the “Here’s all the ways your baby will be a grotesque genetic monster because you were so selfish and got pregnant while old” talk from the geneticist. That was fun.

    And the advances in baby-care technology while I was blissfully thinking I was done? Don’t even get me started. It was like going forward in a time machine where nothing made sense.

    Filling out the FAFSA for one kid while swishing the poop-covered panties of another kid around in the toilet.

    Going to Back to School night for 29 straight years.

    The freedom to let so many things go. I realized I had evolved pretty drastically as a parent when one day I remembered how my oldest child had 13 pairs of shoes when she was 3 months old and bottles which matched every outfit–while I watched my last child sit naked on the kitchen counter eating Cool Whip out of the container with one hand and gnaw on a block of cheddar cheese with the other.

    I would not trade it for anything–but I sure do crave naps.

    • Kathleen Dennehy December 14, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      Wow, Jodi, you are Wonder Woman. I’m in awe. I want to fly to wherever you live so I can make sure you get the nap you so richly deserve. And you are hilarious and honest. If you ever want to write about your experiences as a formerly young currently old mom, please send me anything and I promise I will post it! Loving you fiercely from afar.

  • Elizabeth McKoy January 10, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    Yep – I also belong to this proud tribe – I am an old mama and an adoptive mama of a super wonderful almost 3 year old girl who we adopted from China when she was 17 months old. I am new to being an older Mama and I am still surprised when I catch a glance of myself and realize I don’t look like the other preschool moms. I looked young when I had my first kids when i was 29 and 32. I love your writing and so appreciate the candor and heart that pours out of you. We adopted Alexandra when I was 51, and I had my son Elliot at 43. I have 3 other children: a 14 year old and 2 in college so I have been a mama for a LONG LONG time. And yet – parenting at this age, and being able to be a part of the adoptive journey has shown me once again how much I have to learn about love. It’s hard and so very worth it. Thank you again for this blog.

  • sfseasonedmom February 11, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    Finally! Someone else who gets this. I live in what’s considered to be a progressive city, but NOBODY gets the old mom thing. We had our son when I was 48, and though he is the very best thing in our lives, the brightest light in the sky and cherished more than anyone could know, our situation (hubby even older than me) often leaves me feeling alone in a sea of thirtysomething (yes, I remember that show) parent peers. So comforting to find your blog, your story and your humor.

    • Kathleen Dennehy February 12, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      sfseasonedmom! You rock!! I love how fierce and funny you are! Thanks so much for reading, relating and enjoying. We are a very special tribe and need to take vvvvv good care of each other. Good luck up there in SF… where every other 12 year old has a start up and a Tesla. LA is so much worse in the hot sexy youth department, but in Echo Park, I’m not the only old mom, just the oldest! Love you!

  • April February 20, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Making me smile… I thought I was alone! Supplements and great skin care products for 30 yrs help me from looking my age, but my parents like to remind me I’ll be 50 soon. Former young mom, new older mom. But all worth it for my husband to be a dad!! Thank you for your humor and letting us know we aren’t the only ones out there!

  • Landry March 1, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    What a beautiful blog. I love your voice. I am an older mom–had my second at 40, and much of what you write about resonates with me, but I am really thinking about my mom as I read. She was 46 when I was born…in 1971. People always mistook her for my grandmother and I remember at a very young age being certain she would die before I had my own kids. She did get to meet my first child but died five weeks after my little one was born. Each day as I plod through my life in wonder at how very difficult this whole parenting thing is I am astonished to think how much more difficult it must have been for her. How very alone and tired she must have felt–maybe not all the time, but more often than I could have possibly appreciated. What a gift this blog is. I’m sure she would have loved it.

    • Kathleen Dennehy March 1, 2017 at 10:54 pm

      Wow, Landry, your message is very moving. I lost my mom when my little one was only 3 and they had such a lovely bond… and I think Clem still remembers and loves her granny. And yes, your mother’s story is a very moving one. And you never know, she might know just how you feel about her. I’ve decided my mom is still with me, every step of the way. Thanks for reaching out. And I’m so sorry for the delay- we’ve taken on a foster teenager and she is occupying so much of my life! Best to you and your family.

  • Michelle March 4, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    Ha! I had to laugh at this because it is so much of what I’ve felt.
    I have a 25 year old son, a 20 year old son & an 11 year old daughter. I’m the oldest mom at any school functions & I was asked at a local store if I was spending the day with my grand-daughter (she got a major stink eye). When I am with my daughter-in-law people assume that she is the mom to my daughter. That’s the negatives. The positives are that it is keeping me young. It’s making me get in shape because I want to be around as long as possible & to the boys despair, I am so much more fun & easy going. They remind me all the time about that. With them I was so strict & I am very laid back now.
    She is absolutely the joy of my life & I can’t imagine life without her.

    • Kathleen Dennehy March 4, 2017 at 10:56 pm

      Michelle- I love your perspective! It makes me feel a bit less insane because now that we have a 16 year old foster kid, I feel like the world truly ends about 8 times a day. But dealing with the 16 year old DRAMA makes me a lot more relaxed with my nearly 5 year old… if my 16 year old can survive what she’s survived, then ANYONE can survive anything and that includes my career as a mother. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll make it. Like this morning getting both ready for school, for instance! Anyway, thanks for sharing. You sound spectacular. Your kids are lucky to have you.


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