by: Elizabeth Gregory
Here’s a link to a cover story in New York Mag this week, about the way delayer trend — women who have kids at 50 or later. Parents of a Certain Age. The article, by Lisa Miller, discusses both egg donor moms (mostly) and adoptive moms (the bigger group). And a few dads.
The piece pulls its punches a bit — beginning with a heavy dose of the yuck factor, and citing Nancy London at length arguing that biology is destiny, and 50 is too late. Then midway through it changes gears:
“Here is why the arguments against old parents put forth by this article thus far are actually all bunk: They rest on the assertion that people above a certain externally imposed cutoff should not have children because it is not natural—and nature is a historically terrible arbiter of personal choice. American states used to legislate against interracial couples on the basis that miscegenation was “unnatural.” Some conservatives continue to fight gay marriage and gay parenthood on the grounds that homosexuality is “unnatural.” Broad-minded people see these critiques for what they are: bias and personal distaste hiding behind an idea of natural law. And yet some of these same broad-minded people still feel comfortable using chronological age to sort the suitable potential parents from the unsuitable. That’s because those judgments, and the backlash they’re fueling, are a product of ageism, the last form of prejudice acceptable in the liberal sphere. Sitting so ostentatiously on the boundary between “youth” and “age,” 50-year-olds threaten an image we hold of good parents (i.e., the handsome, glossy-haired ones depicted in the house-paint ads). By acting young when they’re supposed to be old, they cause discomfort for the people around them. Parents like Kate Garros have felt this all too acutely. “If you don’t meet people’s expectations of what a mother looks like, they can’t hack it,” she told me.”
Too bad for those expectations, however. The scene is morphing fast.
You can find a few words of mine toward the end about older women, money and clout. Given free rein I would have gone on a length about how it’s only when women delay kids that they get the chance in the work world as it’s constructed today to finish their educations and climb the ladders at work to points where their voices can shape policy. But Miller makes many great points here – tracking a trend that a good number in her NY audience are already on board for.