Old Father Time

In which our reluctant hero ponders a topical issue.

According to BBC News, some singer or other (Janet Jackson, whoever she may be) is expecting a baby. At fifty. Blimey.

Hot on the heels of publishing this incredible piece of not news (they could equally have led with “WOMAN EXPECTING BABY”) Auntie Beeb followed up with a more interesting magazine article about what’s it like in a family with a big age gap between parents and kids. Pretty much the same as with a small age gap I would think, asides from everything being done so much better by us old ‘uns. Probably.

I was a sprightly thirty-nine year old when we brought a little person home for the first time. Don’t worry, it was ours. Looking back at photos from that time, I could have easily knocked a good few years off “late thirties” to hang around the park BMX-ing, or whatever the cool kids get up to these days. Certainly not the dishevelled mess that I resemble now after nearly four years of active parenting.

We, like increasing numbers of other parents, left having children quite late. Everything is more difficult as you get older and I worry for Janet. Just how will she and her small army of nannies, au pairs, butlers, chefs, handymen and gardeners keep on top of everything when the little one arrives? They’re in for a shock, I can tell you.

As a middle-aged parent, I know only one thing. Being a middle-aged parent. Having scratched out some thoughts on the back of a Ready Brek box, unsurprisingly, there seems to be pros and cons to having children later in life.

With age comes wisdom and life experience. And, to a degree, confidence. As a man in my early forties, I know more stuff, and more about how to deal with stuff, than I did in my early twenties, so that’s got to be a good thing, right? I also care a lot less about what other people think than I did in my youth. One nil to the older dads.

Leaving things later, we saved up a bit and bought a house in quite a nice bit of Wolverhampton (yep, there are some.) This meant that, with a bit of careful planning and thriftiness, my wife was able to become a stay at home mum, which is something that we both wanted while the children were little. Being the lower earner and being a dab hand at making chutney and doing the hoovering, it would have made far more sense for me to have stayed at home, but she was having none of it. Foiled again.

There’s also a school of thought that having children later somehow keeps you younger. They certainly keep you on your toes physically. And who would have thought that I would gain such an in-depth knowledge of young people things like Ben and Holly, Disney Princesses and the like at this stage of my life? (This is supposed to be a good thing?)

But what about the negatives?

Leaving things later increases risks. Risks during pregnancy are well documented, but risk of injury during conception also need to be considered, being more fragile and less flexible than in our primes. Less twerk and more creak. Maybe we need an awareness campaign?

Disney Princesses asides, I have some massive knowledge gaps around popular culture if recent quiz performances are anything to go by. And all new music is just rubbish. Fact. Maybe I could have just about tolerated spending fifty quid a ticket to sit through the latest thing to drop off the Cowell conveyor belt in my thirties, but not in my fifties. I’ll also be pushing sixty by the time that the kids start going to gigs, and worse still nightclubs, by themselves. If I had been younger I could maybe have gone with them. Nah.

Children keep you young? Wear you out more like. I was never the fittest in my twenties, but now, with considerably more miles on the clock, I’m in desperate need of a major service (and possibly a new exhaust) if I’m to keep running long enough to reach “classic” status. If they had been born when we were younger, the children may even have left home by now. Which technically makes me old enough to be their grandad. There’s a thought. But if our two have children of their own as late as we had them, chances are that I’ll never get to meet my grandchildren. That’s quite a sobering thought, knowing how much pleasure that the grandparents get from seeing them.

Expanding further, I did wonder if being a burden on the kids as the years passed by should also be a negative thing to consider. Looking at it another way, they will probably just be getting their hands on the inheritance money earlier so maybe this should be regarded as a positive. For them at least.

So in summary. Janet is in for a shock. We too left it late and can’t do anything about that. Our children need to get themselves familiar with mid-nineties Indie as soon as possible. They also need to have their offspring by their early twenties so that I don’t need to worry about them sloshing round nightclubs and also get to meet my grandkids. Simples.

So, over to them. No pressure.

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