3 Reasons Why Being a Midlife Mom is Great

Anybody else adopt at a slightly more mature age?

For many years I was the young mom in the crowd. I was 23 when Hannah was born and had four kids before I was 30. I soaked up a lot of wisdom from the moms who were ahead of me on this winding path.

Then Claire, baby #7, was born one week before my 39th birthday. This time I was a somewhat older mom, but I was still in my thirties. I felt great.

Four years later we adopted Ebenezer and Wogayu and brought them home when I was 43. Eby was two and Wogayu an infant, so I was in my early forties when they were born.

We’re already a unique family – there are lots of us and we’ve adopted transracially. But babies in my forties seems to have pushed me into a different category.

I’m generally the oldest mom picking kids up at football practice or sitting in the audience at the middle school band concert.

Sometimes it’s hard for my adopted kids to have a white mom, and one of my kids is really bothered by his parents being “old.”

He recently asked me not to come into the gym when I pick him up because, “None of the other kids in my class have a mom with gray hair.”

Sorry, but I’m coming in anyhow because I’m your mom and I love you.

Here’s the thing, I’m a better mom now than when I was 30. I’ve learned an ocean’s worth of lessons over the years, calmed down a whole lot, and don’t worry as much about what other people think.

No longer do I have a huge brood at home, so these kids actually get more of my attention than their older siblings did.  Not to mention, two of them have their own bedrooms – completely unheard of in our family.

Another huge bonus, my younger kids have a tribe of adult siblings who love them, support them, and think they’re pretty awesome. Although the big kids are spread out around the country, they pour a lot into the younger crew.

I’ll grant you, middle school is tough; most kids feel they’re under a microscope and their peers are watching. For a child of color adopted into a large white family, the feeling of being observed is heightened.

It’s not easy being different when you want so badly to fit in.

Middle schoolers are striving to find their place in this complex social system. Wanting cool athletic clothing and shoes, playing the popular sports (and being good at them), and having a bike that isn’t an embarrassing hand-me-down are all very important.

To sum it up, for me, being a midlife mom means:

1. I’m generally more relaxed because I draw on decades of life experience, and I’m pretty good at knowing what’s truly important.

2. I can give them more attention than when I had lots of little ones.

3. They have older siblings involved in their lives.

In the end, I hope having a mom who loves them like crazy, welcomes their friends into our home, and supports them as they pursue their interests, outweighs the discomfort of having a mom who is “old.”

And as for my hair, it’s not gray, it’s silver – and I happen to like it a whole lot.

How about your family? Are you a midlife mom?


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All for today, my friend. I would love to hear your thoughts about today’s post, or anything else. A quick hello from you would do my heart good.

With courage and hope,

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

25 Comments

  1. Jane VanDeventer
    October 8, 2018

    I am not a mid-life mom, I am an older mom!
    We adopted our 9th child when I was 50. He was a newborn. We had adopted his sister two years before.

    So now, she is 15, he is almost 13, and I am 63!

    Our story is very similar to yours.
    We currently have 11 children. 3 Bios., (all in their 30s)

    6 Adopted,. white, Asian, and black
    and 2 Fosters…2 mos., and 8 mos.
    We have a son in Heaven, and a son in Prison.
    I too feel that I am a better mom now.
    Oh the things that I have learned over the years!
    My kids seem to be OK with having an OLD, FAT, WHITE mom.
    We for sure have our challenges, but I love this time.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 8, 2018

      You have a two-month-old? Jane, you’re awesome! My youngest is nearly 12 and we’re taking a break from foster care when Zoe leaves, so no littles for us. We’re looking forward to grandbabies one day.

      Reply
  2. Dara Nelson
    October 8, 2018

    Older mom here, too! Children bio and adopted ages 7 to 31 and I’m 51. Love being a mom so I’m glad it’s not empty nest time yet. I often think career women don’t think about retiring at the end of their thirties or in their forties so a career homemaker shouldn’t have to either.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 8, 2018

      Now that’s an interesting thought, Dara. My oldest is also 31! Wogayu turns 12 later this month, so no more little ones.

      Reply
  3. Heidi
    October 8, 2018

    I’m almost the opposite situation…I’m 34 with a crew that is 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 11, 10, 5, and 2 year old grandbaby. I don’t feel old enough for all this but definitely old enough and competent at the same time…an old soul. I’m petite with a young face so people assume I’m 18 or 19….they question my ability without knowing the story and I’m equally as embarrassing as the young/white Mom as you may feel as the middle-aged momma. 🙂 I hope I have your energy when I’m the middle-aged momma!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 9, 2018

      I love that end of the story too – I bet you’re an adorable grandma!

      Reply
  4. jan ranger
    October 8, 2018

    SO needed this!!!! just few months why of 60, and leaving in 3 weeks to adopt our 10 year old daughter in vietnam. as a white-hair (LOL!), i am worried that she might think her grandma has come 🙂

    other kids are 13, 15, 15, 15, 17, 17, 19, 20, and 22. i have always been the older mom. you’d think I would be used to it by now! vanity gets in my way sometimes, although hard to admit 😌

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 9, 2018

      That’s great, Jan! I hope your big kids are a blessing to your younger crew. It helps a lot!

      Reply
  5. Emily
    October 8, 2018

    “Sorry, but I’m coming in anyhow because I’m your mom and I love you.”

    Love that, and love this post! I love learning from moms a few steps ahead, and I’m so grateful to learn from you (and your kids.) Love all of you!

    Ps- I can’t believe you had four kids when you were my age!

    Pps- I love your silver hair!!!!!!!!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 9, 2018

      I think back on it and I can’t believe it either. I had five kids by birth a week after my 31st birthday, then we took a breather for a few years.

      Reply
  6. Melody Caton
    October 9, 2018

    Love your insight!! I was 23 when I had my first, 27 for second. Six years ago we adopted a an 8 year old, then a four year old. At 50 we are adopting a 13 year old boy!! We also have 6 other foster children we care for as houseparents in a children’s home! I feel mostly young 😜. I went to our kindergarteners program who is African American and a little boy yelled out “is that your grandma “. I kindly said “watch it boy you know nothing about me!!!” I have recently just become “grandma “ though!!!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 9, 2018

      Melody, you are an inspiration!

      Reply
      1. Melody Caton
        October 16, 2018

        You are an inspiration!!! You were the first blog I recommended to the adoptive families I worked with about 10 years ago!! I knew nothing at that time except what I learned in my masters program-books never teach what real life experience does!! I almost think you exposed me to Karyn Purvis! Thanks for all you do to encourage and teach-can’t wait to read the book ❤️

        Reply
        1. Lisa Qualls
          October 16, 2018

          Thank you so much, Melody. Who knew I’d still be blogging 12 years after I started! I appreciate you sharing my blog.

          Reply
  7. Heather
    October 9, 2018

    First, I LOVE your hair. 🙂 Second, I’m 42 w/3 bio kids & ive wanted to foster &/or adopt for the past 11 years. After so long waiting/praying that my husband would feel it’s ‘time’, I started to give up hope. Something about turning 42 made me feel like I was too old to adopt. My husband definitely fears being an ‘old dad’. Your post encouraged me that there could be benefits to adopting in our 40s! Now if you could do a post on how to assure my husband that we should adopt now… 😉

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 9, 2018

      Thank you for the nice compliment on my hair; I really love it and feel so happy I went natural. You’re a young thing, Heather! If you want advice, which you didn’t ask for, I would say, be realistic about your family’s needs, your marriage, your life. It’s okay to foster and not adopt, or foster-adopt, or adopt one child. Fostering is incredible if you feel called to it. Our bio kids really need us through the teen and young adult years.

      Reply
  8. Sheree T.
    October 11, 2018

    I am a part of the older mom gang! I had my first bio at 22, next at 27 and the last at 32. We spread them out- not even on purpose really. Lol. Then a wonderful 15 year old girl from Haiti came to live with us when my youngest was 14. She was in need of medical care and soon after she arrived it became apparent that she also needed to stay with us permanently so adoption was pursued. Tragically, she passed away unexpectedly during a routine medical procedure. We were all devastated. After grieving for a couple years, we felt called to foster and at the age of 48, our now 4 year old son came to us as a 13 day old foster child. We have since adopted our 10 year old son. And our oldest daughter, now 30, blessed us with our first grandchild, born one year ago today! It’s a wonderful chaotic life!! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 11, 2018

      Sheree, thanks so much for your comment. First, I’m so sorry for your loss. Grief is a long journey. We also entered the world of foster care after losing a child. We didn’t think we were ready, but God knew it would be good for our hearts. Way to go on being a little “older” and very courageous!

      Reply
      1. Sheree T.
        October 18, 2018

        I just now read your blog post on loss and grief from a couple days ago. Our sweet Nadine will forever be 15. Her death wrecked me. I am a lover and follower of Jesus, and I did not know that darkness until my girl went to heaven. But, God is faithful and He slowly brought me out of that dark pit. And He brought us our boys and a passion for teaching others about developmental trauma, foster care, adoption, and transracial adoption. Our Heavenly Father has not wasted a moment of my pain. He has drawn me close and He has taught me. I still grieve BIG. I think I always will until I see my sweet, sweet girl again. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I understand it so well.

        Reply
        1. Lisa Qualls
          October 18, 2018

          It’s always comforting to find people who understand the loss of a child, which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I agree that God is not wasting a moment of our pain ; he is using it to shape us. Thanks for leaving such a beautiful comment, Sheree.

          Reply
  9. Ann Hodgman
    October 11, 2018

    You have great hair, Lisa. On top of that, both the youngest boys are gorgeous.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 11, 2018

      Thank you, they are growing into handsome young men. Good to hear from you, Ann.

      Reply
  10. Melissa
    October 12, 2018

    I’m not sure where I fit. I’m 45 and my 9 kids range in age for 23 to 3. I have a twenty year span!! Oh, and I am grandma to an adorable boy who turned 1 today! I have 3 children that are African American, so I understand the “white mom” aspect too. So far we have only had comical issues and so we laugh. Last fall while at the park with my then 4 year old (caucasian) and 2 year old (AA) sons, a little girl asked…Which one is yours? When I replied that they were both mine she asked…Are you the mom or the grandma? HAHAHA 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      October 15, 2018

      I have a twenty-year span also! My big kids are a huge blessing to my younger crew and to me.

      Reply
  11. Laurel
    October 19, 2018

    Loved this post and all of the comments. 🙂

    I, too, am a “Mid-Life Mom”. I married at 20 and had my first child at 22. By 28, I had 6 kids. Everyone thought we certainly must be done after 6 babies in 6 years. We weren’t done, but we slowed down the pace a bit. Over the next 12 years, we added 4 more bio. kids and lost one through a miscarriage. During this time, I also battled cancer and endometriosis, and 8 kids and I were in a serious car accident. I had my last bio. baby the day before I turned 40.

    When I was 46, we added two daughters from Ghana. They were 6 and 9, and our youngest bio. boys were 6 and 8. So, we basically twinned up the youngest two (which definitely has it’s pros and cons). At age 49, I lost another bio. baby through a miscarriage. I was really looking forward to celebrating my 50th birthday with a brand new baby and very much grieved the loss.

    Now . . . at the “old” age of 56 . . . I have only one child left at home. While the house is definitely quiet, I think my dear 16 year old son is kind of enjoying all of the one-on-one time with his Mama.

    My kids are spread out, from Australia to Afghanistan, from Minnesota to Oklahoma to California (with a few still here in Washington near us). But, along with 2 wonderful sons-in-law and 3 fantastic daughters-in-law . . . we also have 12, yes TWELVE, precious GrandSONS under 7 years old. Oh my! And, we have a precious bundle of pink coming our way in a few months. My 16 year old son LOVES hanging out with all of his nephews (and is a pretty good babysitter, too). I am enjoying almost every minute of the precious last two years of having a child at home, and also loving the absolute JOY of filling my house with grandchildren.

    I truly do not feel “old”, and people often ask how I can possibly have so many children in their 30’s already. My answer, “My children keep me young.” Seriously. I don’t have time to focus on any of the “poor me, I’m getting old” things that many of my peers seem to focus on. I’ve got way too much life to be living.

    Reply

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