The following is an excerpt from my interview with Jacqueline Piccolo on my podcast, You’ve Got This.
The statistics don’t lie—more American women are waiting longer to have children. According to a recent USA Today article, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “births among women ages 40-44 have been rising since the early 1980s and kept rising in 2017, even as the overall U.S. birth rate fell to a record low. .. Births in women older than 45 held steady.”
In 2017, 3.8 million babies were born in the United States. Out of those births, women between the ages of 40 and 44 gave birth to 114,730 babies, while women age 45 and older had 9,325 babies.
“I’m writing way more letters to her for when she’s older,” Jacqueline Piccolo, who became a mom after 40 and now has a three-year-old daughter. “I do have worries about being there for my daughter when she’s older.” While part of those worries stem from Piccolo being a cancer survivor, much of her anxiety is from being an older mom.
“I worked in the field of education for more than 20 years, including 13 years as a kindergarten teacher, so I know kids to some extent,” she said. “However, I literally spend way more time worrying about not being there when she’s older, whereas my friends who had kids younger don’t have those worries.”
But being an older mom has mostly been positive. “I have more confidence in the way I’m parenting her,” Piccolo said. “I had already gone out and about in my 20s and 30s, so I’m able to ride the waves of the mom club pressures better. I’m more focused on the long haul because in many ways, this was my miracle baby.”
She said she’s “much more relaxed with my daughter than when I was a teacher, which I do credit that with being an older mom.” Having a child after working for two decades also helped Piccolo see the long-term goals more easily. “I’m much more concerned with her behavior than with her performance, even at this young age. I want her to know that being pretty on the inside is more important than being the smartest or most successful kid.”
For Piccolo, the saddest part of being a mom has been the judgment by other mothers. “In some ways, the mommy world is sad,” she said. “There are so many different philosophies of parenting, and everyone seems to think their way is the right way. … I wasn’t prepared at fortysomething to be judged by my parenting.”
To hear more great advice and stories from Jacqueline, listen to “The Perks of Being an Older Mom” from “You’ve Got This” podcast.