So it’s official — I am a mid-life mum.
It could be worse. According to the NHS, the fact that I am the wrong side of 40 and have a new(ish) baby officially makes me an “older mother”.
I am only too aware of my advanced years but I do not find this label flattering. I have tried to think of an alternative.
For “old” perhaps “antique”? After all, antiques are also on the aged side yet they are both valued and cherished. I like to think that I too am valued and cherished, so does that make me an “antique mother”?
I am not really sure that this appellation does much for my self-esteem either.
My husband has helpfully come up with some ideas of his own. Though, as he perused the thesaurus throwing out synonyms such as “decrepit”, “derelict” and “dilapidated”, I pointed out that “divorce” also begins with a “d”, so perhaps that’s as far as his trawl through the alphabet should go.
But I don’t really need a label to tell me that I’m old. The recent festive period spelled it out for me loud and clear.
Back in the day, when I was a young thing — when black ash furniture was all the rage and the average shoulder pad could double as a pillow for an unexpected guest — New Year’s Eve was “An Event”. How times have changed.
This year, no crisps or vol-au-vents (or whatever the latest line in party food may be) but a nice roast dinner. No hordes of merry party-goers. Just me, my husband and my mother-in-law.
True, the baby would have upped the numbers and brought the average age down a decade or two, but as she was in bed I guess that would be cheating.
The other new mothers of my acquaintance partied the night away, but for me there was no dancing and no DJ — I was in bed with a cup of cocoa before 10.30.
And while I looked and felt like death the morning after, alas I couldn’t blame it on copious quantities of booze — Diet Coke being as strong as it got — but on a bad back and the fact that the next-door neighbour chose the early hours of New Year’s Day to go into labour.
Don’t get me wrong — I have nothing against home births per se, but I now firmly believe that they should be restricted to those living in detached properties. I offer my congratulations to the new parents nonetheless.
So a wild introduction to 2009 it was. The baby slept, like a baby in fact, while her parents bemoaned their advancing years and took a few paracetamol.
Perhaps it is time to concede gracefully and embrace the fact that I am indeed an older mother.
I should take comfort that I am not alone and that there are quite a few of us out there.
I wonder if there is a collective noun for our merry if slightly arthritic band. Perhaps “a zimmer”…?