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Older Moms: First-Time Motherhood in Your 50's, 60's and Beyond.

Earth Mother (2012) batik of mother and child

I came across several documentaries about women in their fifties and beyond becoming either first-time mothers or giving birth again later in life. It was fascinating to view these women from different places aiming for the same goal: motherhood. It was an emotional experience to watch them and to see how society reacted to them.

Each woman had her own reason for wanting a child even though all were in the later stages of their lives. One, a 72-year-old, had always dreamed of motherhood but was unable to give her husband a child. Her sister had also attempted to be a surrogate, but there was no luck. Another woman in her sixties had had an abortion years earlier in her twenties after a divorce. There were stories upon stories, yet they all yearned to have a child in their womb, a part of themselves to cradle in their arms.

In the pursuit of pregnancy, they stretched to personal lengths to get what they desired. The methods used ranged from amulets and black magic to herbal medicine and spending over $10,000. Through the screen, one could feel the desperation and frustration of their journeys. However, through IVF treatments, they manifested the baby of their dreams. It was beautiful to see the 72-year-old nursing her daughter and the 57-year-old swinging around her baby in the back yard. Nobody could deny the euphoric-lit eyes, the laughter and bonding. But was it happiness or selfishness? This was what society was asking.

Many people did not approve of the women and their "strange" motherhood. The mothers were used to the stares they received as they took their child/children to the park or out and about. One felt as if she had to explain her relation to her child to other people. They were criticized by friends and strangers. The most common concern people had was "What will happen to your child or children if you die?" As a result of either panic or precaution, a few of them changed their entire diets in order to prolong their lives. Though the questions regarding their longevity seemed to be reasonable at times, I also considered it to be ridiculous and rude. A person can die at any moment and at any time. There are mothers in their 20's, 30's and 40's who pass away and leave a family behind. The future invites endless realities.

Another remark people made was "How will you keep up with them? You will be frail and old!" This is also a sensible question, however, it depends on the individual. Perhaps there is a collective consciousness of how we view seasoned maturity. It does not have to result in weakness, loss of physical ability or the robbery of personal freedom. If you have a healthy lifestyle, you will have more control over your aging process. I have seen a 90-year-old man jog daily. There is an Asian village with elderly residents living active lifestyles. Yet, there are people in the prime of their lives who can barely walk up a stairwell or run at a fast pace. Health is truly up to the individual.

To conclude, nobody knows what the future holds. I do not see why anyone would criticize a mature, logical and loving adult who wanted a child to be denied this right. We cannot select who can and cannot create a family, we are not God or the Universe. There are youthful, able-bodied parents who abuse, neglect and even murder their offspring. In the end, it is not the physical strength that you possess or the lack of wrinkles on your face that matters to the child. It is the genuine love that they receive that makes a lasting and positive impact.

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