‘Swing me around again, Daddy,’ my little girl, Immy, begged through her giggles.
‘In a minute,’ my husband Tom gasped. ‘Just let Daddy get his breath back.’
As he collapsed onto the sofa next to me, Tom shook his head. ‘This was far easier 15 years ago when my nephews were this age,’ he remarked.
Despite being five years younger than him, just a few months shy of 39, I knew exactly what he meant. I had all kinds of energy to play with my niece when she was a toddler but now, with my own children, it seemed like much harder work.
I’m sure it’s not just down to my age – having children of your own full time is very different to spending an afternoon entertaining your sibling’s little ones – but it’s definitely part of it.
That was one of the many reasons I’d wanted to be a young mum when I’d planned out my ideal hypothetical life.
Now though, looking at how amazing Tom is with our two gorgeous children, I knew that waiting for the right man and being an older mum was far better than rushing into starting a family.
As a teenager, when I first thought about children, I’d always imagined I’d have them in my early 20s. ‘I want to be married, have my own house and two babies by the time I’m 25,’ I’d say confidently whenever the subject arose.
Back then, I could imagine nothing better than meeting the love of my life, settling down while we were still full of 20-year-old energy, devoting myself to our kids while knowing we’d still only be in our 40s when they moved out and could have a second round of freedom while we were still relatively young.
My parents would get to meet their grandchildren and, in turn, I’d (hopefully, anyway) be a young grandma, getting to be a huge part of their children’s lives – maybe even their children’s children’s lives.
Goodness knows where I thought I’d find the time. Or the money. Or indeed the man.
What do they say about the best laid plans…?
Because of course life never works out quite the way you imagine it. My university boyfriend who I was with for two and a half years broke my heart when he broke up with me just after my 21st birthday.
Looking back, he was right to end our relationship – we were far too different to ever work out in the long term and he certainly wouldn’t have been the right person for me to have children with.
I’ve realised that there are other advantages of being an older mum
Desperately trying to stop begging him to take me back, like all of the good clichés, I threw myself into my career, moving to Essex, Brighton, Bristol and finally London, where I met my next serious boyfriend.
After years of bad dates, I had suddenly found someone I clicked with. That elusive spark was finally there. Within weeks, we were talking about the future, about marriage, kids, the whole shebang.
We spent the next few years riding a rollercoaster of massive highs and crushing lows, trying to make it work – especially as I was deep down hoping to be the young mum I’d always envisioned. But eventually we ended things.
It became clear that having children in that relationship would have been a massive mistake.
In the end, I was nearly 30 by the time I even met Tom. I came across him online, with a picture of him with a packet of chips, promising he would always share his food. So when he messaged me and we discovered we worked on opposite sides of Oxford Street, we arranged a date.
He was funny, kind, relaxed but serious enough about me… And as we got to know each other, I discovered that, although he love d music and films while I preferred books, and he was far more laid back about life than I was, we agreed on the big things.
We both had close friends who meant everything to us, we were both careful with money and family was of huge importance.
The rest, as they say, was history.
We were engaged before our two-year anniversary, married 10 months after that, and I fell pregnant on our honeymoon. Yet, even with a relationship that moved as quickly as ours, I was still 33 when I gave birth to our first child, Theo, now five, and 35 when Immy came along.
A good decade later than I’d planned.
But can I regret that? Absolutely not.
Because Tom is a wonderful father, and husband. Even now, after more than nine years together, I still feel so grateful that our paths crossed and that we chose each other. We still have fun together, make each other laugh until we can’t breathe and kiss and cuddle like teenagers.
And as parents, we thankfully put on a united front – without talking about it in too great detail, we’ve instinctively agreed upon the way we want to raise Theo and Immy. We want them to be kind, responsible people, who respect others and who are interested in and care about the world around them.
And as well as waiting for the right man, along the way, I’ve realised that there are other advantages of being an older mum.
I’m far calmer, more patient and experienced now. I’m more financially stable than I was a decade ago. And I’ve had the time to move around the country and devote myself to my career.
Would I still like to have been a younger mam? Every now and then. But, given another chance, would I still wait to meet Tom to have children? Every time.
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