When I was in university, many of my classes were peppered with “mature” students. The proper definition of a mature student was anyone over the age of 21 who had been out of school for at least one year. In my 19-year-old mind, they were mostly women, upwards of 35, who wore over-sized sweatshirts, mom jeans and out-of-date hair-styles.
What made them stand out was not only their appearance but their attitude as well. They were always the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave. Seated perpetually in the front row, they would scribble furiously as the professor lectured, their heads bobbing from the front of the room to their spiral-bound notebooks, as if their necks could snap at any moment.
They would often interrupt, ask questions and request further clarification. This was in stark contrast to my friends and I sitting closer to the back, always trying to be invisible, watching the clock, dreaming of getting back to our rooms to nap the minute we were dismissed.
These students were paying for university themselves and had invested so much into this moment of their lives. Many of them had left families at home and had put their jobs and steady incomes on hold to pursue their dreams of getting a degree. For them, attending class was not something you did to kill time before you got to hang out with your friends, but the groundwork needed to be covered in order to reach the ultimate goal.
So, in analyzing the word mature in this context, do I see myself as a “mature mom”?
Well that depends on how you look at it.
The numbers definitely add up. I didn’t have my kids until my late thirties, my second child born the day after I turned 40. Are my clothes and hair out of date? Well, I don’t own oversized sweatshirts and mom jeans – and I do try to keep up with some of the more forgiving fashion trends. But when I compare myself to these students of my memories, I see a striking resemblance.
My kids did not come to me easily and came later than I expected. My dream of starting a family was a put on hold until the stars finally aligned and my body decided to cooperate. I don’t take a moment for granted. Ever.
I am often stopped dead in my tracks, left breathless when I see a reminder of my current, sought-after life; toys strewn across the living room floor or dirty sippy cups lining the edge of my sink. In this respect then, yes, I am mature. I am a mother who waited a little longer than most to get to this moment.
Society tends to place labels on circumstances that are considered outside of the norm. In the medical community, I was referred to as a woman of “advanced maternal age”. This did not bother me. Both of my pregnancies at the ages of 37 and 39 went extremely well with no complications whatsoever. In the end, they’re just words and what bonds us is the beautiful universal experience that is motherhood.
Call me whatever you want but nothing sounds better to my ears than hearing my two boys call me “Mommy.”
If I could go back in time to my university days and meet up with some of those mature students, I would put my arm around them and say “I get it.” Clawing your way to your dreams is not always easy when you’re living it, but when you finally reach the other side, the dust settled around you, you get to take a deep breath, and know that it was all worth it.
Lori is currently on a break from teaching to stay at home with her two sons, 3 and 1. She has a passion for reading and writing, enjoys a good documentary, and loves all things pop culture. She lives in Stoney Creek, Ontario with her husband and young family.
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