I always dreamed of having a black-tie affair for my 50th birthday: a party with 50 of my closest friends, an orchestra and a signature drink. There would be a deejay playing ‘80s music during sets.
Funny how life becomes the party planner.
I married my best friend, Ron, when I was 46. Two years later at 48, we welcomed then 10-month-old Reagan into our home. Her twin brothers arrived right before I turned 50. I never thought I would be a mother. My biological clock was digital, it did not tick.
So, when Child Protective Services entered our lives and asked us to care for a beautiful daughter and infant twin sons, we began the parenthood journey. This was my first time. My husband has adult sons.
I didn’t have time to plan. There was no gestation period. Lucky for me, there was YouTube. I learned to change diapers. That first night, I remember crying with the baby, saying, “How did that come out of a such little tuchus?”
The videos you see of dads gagging while changing a diaper are real. #dontjudge
Overnight, I became an older mom. What does that really mean? I didn’t feel older.
And then one day this happened: “Your grandchildren are beautiful,” said this well-intentioned stranger. “How wonderful you brought them to the store.”
Stunned, I replied in quick succession, “I’m the mom, not the grandma. We adopted our babies.”
Why did I say that? I don’t owe anyone an explanation about why I am an older mother. I am their mother. They don’t call me “Adopted Mom.” Just plain ol’ “Mom.”
The story of how we became parents is beautiful. Our children know they are adopted and that fairy princesses named Cnausha and Carla saved them from a dangerous place. Their friends know they are adopted, too.
“You are OUR children. We wanted you, you and you,” I’ve explained to them.
One of my children even told a friend, “We were wanted; your mom got stuck with you.”
Oh well, we’ll have to work with our kiddos on that response.
Older parents often make really great parents. For women, it’s because FOMO — the fear of missing out — is gone. I spent my 20s, 30s and 40s as a career TV news reporter, throwing away money on stupid things like expensive shoes and clothes.
I once proudly proclaimed, “My shoes are my children!”
Yes, I said that. Ewww.
I went on lots of vacations and one time, on a date to England. Who goes on a date to London? I did! It was a first-class plane ride, high tea and time in Dartmouth on a yacht in the English Channel. And, attending a Madonna concert. I was in the third row with singer-songwriter and “The Voice” star Gwen Stefani sitting right in front of me; we said hi to each other.
(She was with her then-hubby, British rocker Gavin Rossdale. This is way before country crooner Blake Shelton.)
Maybe that’s why during the COVID-19 pandemic, I am a happy camper living every waking moment with my husband and our cubs. They have grown up before my eyes and I’m the luckiest mom in the world because I am able to understand that what I have is priceless.
I am way more Zen about things; three children will cure anyone’s obsessive-compulsive tendencies and shopping habits.
There are differences between a mom in her 20s and a mom in her 50s. I can sum it up in two words: structure and sitters.
Many older moms demand structure and some are able to afford scheduling babysitters every weekend. When Ron and I enjoy Friday and Saturday night dinners at the Barn Door Restaurant, we often hire not just one sitter, but three for “man-on-man” coverage. Older moms often have the means to take sitters with them on vacations, which is what we did when we traveled to New Orleans and Horseshoe Bay during Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays.
In 2013, on my 50th birthday, I spent a relaxing afternoon at the Oak Hills Country Club swimming pool with my husband, 23-month-old Reagan, 2-month-old twin sons Kennedy and Carter, and several friends. No makeup, no fancy dress. I think there was music piped in from the snack bar. It was the best day ever.
I looked around at my good fortune and planned Reagan’s second birthday party, wondering which of my friend’s kids would wear the Elmo costume?
Gina Galaviz Eisenberg is a mother of 9-year-old Reagan, and 7-year-old twins Kennedy and Carter. She and her husband, Ron, own the public-relations firm The Eisenberg Group.