My dad became my dad when he was 25. My brother was born two years later so, by the time he was 27, my dad had had all the kids he was going to have.
I, on the other hand, did not become a dad for the first time until I was 30. Later, I met Emma. I was 36. Jenny was born when I was 39, and Eve a year later. I was 40 when Eve was born. Given that my experience was that by the time my dad was 40, I was 15, it seemed pretty old to be a dad.
Thoughts crossed my mind like when she’s 18, I’ll be 58 and I’ll be lucky to see her 40th birthday. Would I be able to keep up with young kids in my mid 40s?
I wasn’t an old 40. I’ve never looked my age and I’ve certainly never acted it. Emma, my wife, is six years younger than me. A spring chicken. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad?
So fast forward four years. I’m about to turn 44 and my kids will be 4 and 5 in July. If I pick them up from nursery, I’m not standing out like a sore thumb as an older parent. I’m not crumbling in a heap every time we play together at the park. I’m not walking away from the shops, absent-mindedly forgetting that I have children with me.
My girls don’t know I’m older than their friends’ folks. They are clueless about what older age means. They think 12 years old means being an adult. Kids don’t work on the same level as us.
It turns out that I’m a better dad in my 40s than I was in my 30s. I’ve learned more about life, being patient and I’m more relaxed and confident. Being in a good relationship and forming a loving family is the foundation for this, I’m sure. I didn’t appreciate things as much the first time around. That may have been because I was distracted and preoccupied with being in a bad relationship. Certainly, the idea of becoming a parent any earlier than I did was laughable. I wasn’t anywhere near mature or selfless enough to have managed it.
I believe I’m lucky. Having young kids means that it doesn’t feel like the 40s are meant to. It’s more like having a second stab at my 30s and getting it right. The additional knowledge gained in those ten years has made me happier and more satisfied within myself that I can handle the challenges that parenting throws at me. I’ve learned not to get involved or upset with trivial things and to gently nudge the children in the right direction rather than try to micro-manage every aspect of their lives.
So, if you’re going to become a dad for the first time and you’re a little older, don’t worry. You’ll benefit from your experience. Plus, you’ll be able to nap at the same time as them 😉