How Old is Too Old to Have a Baby?
While the rest of the country was oohing and ahhing over the news Hoda Kotb adopted her second baby last week, my instant reaction was more like, “Woman, what the heck are you thinking?!” I knew Hoda was younger than me, but I suspected it wasn’t by much, and I was right: she’s 54 – a mere six years younger than me. I tried to imagine myself with a six-year-old child and shuddered at the thought. I realize Hoda has resources the average person (me) doesn’t, resources that may smooth the parenting path. When her maternity leave is over and she returns to work at the Today Show, you can be pretty sure she won’t have to bundle up the two kids, pray the car starts and drop them off at a day care center while she worries about how she’s going to pay this month’s child care bill. She’ll most surely have a nanny at the house, a driver picking her up and college tuition in the bank. I’m not saying money is everything, but it can make life as a mother a lot easier.
Hoda Kotb with her two daughters. Photo Source: Today.com
How old is too old to have a baby? Even though for me, 54 would have been too old, it may be just the right age for Hoda and others. Maybe what I struggle with is looking ahead at the parenting challenges that lurk down the road. We get all mushy and teary-eyed looking at that precious little bundle of love 54-year-old Hoda is snuggling, but my pessimistic mind can’t help but jump forward 15 years. Hoda will be 69 years old when the sweet newborn will have morphed into a hormonal 15-year-old teenager. Enforcing curfew, teaching a teen to drive and monitoring homework does not sound like a fun way to spend my golden years. Maybe Hoda will get lucky and her daughters will sail through puberty, but chances are with two daughters, one of them will give her a challenge, and holding an AARP card will not provide immunity.
And then there’s all the years of science fairs and homework and parent teacher conferences. The late night runs for poster boards and the packing of the lunchboxes every morning are not activities I miss. Digging through drawers looking for a pair of socks that are matching and not visibly dirty, remembering today was your day to bring snacks to soccer practice, and keeping track of all the appointments and playdates- I’m exhausted remembering all the energy being a parent required. I loved being a parent, but I know I had way more energy in my 30s and 40s than I have now. But the opportunity for becoming a parent doesn’t happen for everyone at the same time; I can’t imagine not having been a parent, so maybe it’s never too late, you’re never too old to seize the chance?
My dad was 53 when my youngest sibling was born and lack of energy was never a parenting issue for my father. He was 47 when I was born, the same age I was when my children left for college! I was never aware of how unusual my dad’s age was until I was in middle school and overhead other kids saying their parents were in their 30s and 40s. I knew my mom was in her 40s, but I also was aware my dad was in his 60s! I was a little embarrassed and said nothing, being in middle school is hard enough without having something unusual about your family. That embarrassment didn’t last and in fact, it turned to pride as he remained a dynamo of energy into his 90s. He looked at his older parenting age as a bonus. He had lived all over the world and had incredible adventures, so by the time he became a first-time father in his 40s, he was ready to settle down and devote himself to parenting.
Me and my dad together in our backyard (yes, that’s Turkey Mountain in the background!). I was about six and he was in his early 50s.
How old is too old to have a baby? I’ve come to the conclusion it has more to do with attitude and situation than years on the calendar. Financial and emotional resources are crucial, and a good support system is imperative. If longevity is in your genetic history that’s a bonus also. I was 30 when my last child was born, and that worked well for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone else. Twenty might be the right age for some people to have a baby, and 54 might be ideal for others so there is no judgement here, just saying better her than me! Congratulations Hoda, and welcome to the world baby Hope Catherine!
I’m thankful my dad didn’t think he was too old to be a parent! Here I am with my beloved dad when I was mid thirties and he was in his 80s. I was lucky he lived to be 98!