My name is Kelli Suchy and I am honored to be a guest blogger here. I am a Domestic Open Adoption Coach and a midlife adoptive mom. Midlife motherhood is a topic near and dear to my heart because the birth of my daughter, Ariel Faith, came six days after I turned 45. (We have wonderful birth mom to thank for that.)
Did I plan to have a child at this particular juncture in my life? In all honesty, no. I married my husband when I was 39 and tried to have a child right away. Add on six years, or six IVF cycles with two pregnancy losses, before my lifelong dreams of motherhood finally came true.
I am frequently asked by clients and others what it is like to become a mother at midlife. I explain, frankly, that I haven’t experienced it any other way. Ariel is my one and only child. I also explain that motherhood, no matter when it enters your life, will offer benefits and challenges.
- I was ready to be selfless. Ariel arrived when I was very ready, maybe more than ready, to be a mother. Some of the things I had accomplished in my twenties and thirties would have been very difficult with the responsibility of a child.
- I gained patience. Looking back on my younger self, I was not always the very patient person that I am now. Not only is my newfound patience very handy in raising my own child, it also comes in handy volunteering in my daughter’s second grade class with 29 other seven-year-olds.
- I learned to be transparent. In 40 years I learned a great deal about nurturing healthy relationships and what does and doesn’t work. If Ariel has a question, I always answer her and with complete honesty. This open and interactive dialogue we share enables her to trust me.
- At 52, and in good health, I could still use more energy. No matter how hard I try, I never seem to catch up on sleep. Low energy levels are managed by eating healthy, exercising, nurturing your spirituality, and consuming plentiful doses of coffee each day. For me, it is very important to nurture myself spiritually by attending church, meditating, and keeping a journal. For others walking in nature can be soothing and connecting. Once in a while, a trip to the spa can’t hurt either!
- I worry. But then again, what parent doesn’t? My husband and I worry about missing out on Ariel’s milestones: her college graduation, her wedding day, giving birth to our grandchildren. At the end of the day, we know that we’ve done all we can to prepare for the “What ifs..” and that Ariel was meant to be our daughter. This inner knowing seems to settle our worries.
Being a midlife parent also comes with incongruities. Take for example the mail we receive. Among the many envelopes and magazines, there is always yet another invitation to join AARP along with my seven-year-old daughter’s Highlights magazine. I am also sorting out how it feels to have my insides — my passionate, energetic, silly me — not always reflected in the mirror. While I “look good for my age,” the effects of living for 52 years have begun to appear in the softening skin on my neck, the little brown spots on the back of my hands that I can no longer convince myself are freckles, and the soft lines outlining the outsides of my green eyes — the result of many happy smiles over the years.
As much as I’d like to offer you one, I don’t have a recipe for midlife parenting. In fact, I have as many questions as I do answers. I am figuring out this life, and motherhood, one day at a time, just like many of you.
Kelli is a 52 year old midlife adoptive mom, Open Domestic Adoption Coach, nature photographer and gourmet cook in training! After her own unexpectedly long journey to motherhood, she loves her work in helping other couples or singles navigate the process of domestic open adoption. More can be found about Kelli on her web site http://www.parentingbyadoption.com