Adopting in my 50’s means that there is little doubt that I am an older (and the ‘er is me being kind to myself) parent.
Being an older parent has made me acutely aware of the negatives that age has wrought on my body, aware of every ache and every pain and aware of my inability to run and jump and play with my sons for long periods – as I would have been so capable of even a decade ago.
Being older I no longer have the energy levels or indeed the enthusiasm to be a constant and active part in my sons fun and games. I now have a need for ‘down times’ to reenergise and to deal with the stresses of the day – which is very frustrating when it clashes with when my sons are eager to play. In fact there is a need for quiet in general in my life now – even though that is pretty impossible with two young sons bouncing around the house.
Being older means that I am not remotely in touch with the ‘youth culture’ that my sons are just tapping into, I have never been into computer games or the like, I have never followed sport and even current music – that used to be a constant in my life – has now been replaced with talk radio.
Put simply I am aware that I can not give them the kind of parenting I would have been able to when I was younger and fitter.
Being older I have to accept the sad reality that my sons will possibly not have me in their lives that far into their adulthood and I have to face the fact that I will probably not be there for important adult milestones. I am assuming I will be for there to see them graduate, to become adults, but will I be there if the marry or have children? More importantly, will I be there for them when they need me for significant adult decisions or situations that they struggle to face alone, times when even though we are adults we turn to our parents to help us make sense of the world and the difficulties it can throw at us?
Being older I have focused on these negatives that my age brings to my parenting and I have worried about how it affect my sons now and how it will do so throughout their lives.
Being older means that I have a maturity and wisdom that I can bring to my parenting. I think it has been especially valuable in helping me identify and to understand our sons needs, to help me learn how to deal with issues (especially trauma related issues) in a way that I would have struggled to get to grips with in my younger days.
Being older means that I now have a fuller perspective on what it means to be a parent, I think I see a bigger picture as I am no longer distracted by things that meant so much more to me in the past than they do now.
Being older means that I had already settled into a ‘comfortable’ more sedate life. I had already stopped the partying and I am now far more contented with family nights in front of TV and going to bed early – in a way that I never could have been previously.
Being older means that I do not feel like I am missing out, I feel like I have ‘been there and done that’ and I am happy to see others living the life I used to lead without feeling remotely envious.
Being older means that I have a long history with my partner (now in our third decade), it means that we are not working on our relationship with the intensity that is required for newer couples – especially when faced with difficulties. We are able to face the challenges adoption has brought to our partnership with more self assurance and a greater sense of security than younger relationships possibly offer.
Being older means that I am more financially secure which results in me not having to parent around the worry and stress that month to month budgeting can bring to a family. It means that our family has the luxury of a stay-at-home parent and it means that we are able to give our sons experiences that we would not have been able to a decade or so ago, experiences that they clearly learn from and which are of great value to them and indeed to us as a family, experiences that they clearly get great joy and happiness from.
Being older means that my life is far more established and that as a consequence I have time, more time to focus on my sons and on my family, more time to make it all work.
Actually – *****
Being older and coming to parenting so late has worried me greatly.
Being older very nearly stopped me from adopting and it was a huge consideration at the time.
Being older almost prevented my boys from having a forever family, at 5 and 6 they too were (rather ironically) seen as ‘older’ and being siblings and having attachment issues they were difficult to place, it has been stated that we were a last opportunity of adoption for them.
Being older almost stopped my world from being filled with a happiness and a love that transcends anything I could ever have imagined.
On reflection I guess I can see that my worrying was in vain – as surely the positives so greatly outweigh the negatives.
There is no perfect age to be a parent – I guess no matter what age, we all just have to make sure that we try to excel in what we can. Isn’t that the best any parent can do?