Mom,” the girl asked recently, “why did you marry someone so much older than you?”
The boy retorted, “He’s only five years older. Yes, it’s a big difference now—when you’re in third grade, you can’t go out with an eighth-grader—but at their age it doesn’t even matter.” He glanced at me. “No offense, Mom.”
“None taken,” I said, no longer a stranger to the “Why are you guys so much older than my friends’ parents?” conversation. And the boy’s right, of course; at our age it doesn’t matter. Actually I’m kind of enjoying the fact that my husband’s scoping out the other side of 50 for me. Hey, I gave birth twice. He owes me.
This conversation reminded me, however, of the latest episode of my not-quite-quelled desire to have another baby. My door is closing, slowly but surely, but it could still be done, and one day at the grocery store I’d convinced myself that it should.
There was a young mother with a baby in line ahead of me, and the baby was beautiful, engaging, funny, bright-eyed—everything that makes one forget about the other side of having an infant. In my head, in the checkout line that day, I consolidated bedrooms, vowed to clean my floors better and bought a new vehicle. I introduced the baby to its siblings and its pets, and bought my husband some Grecian Formula—for his sake, really. People already think we’re the grandparents, for Pete’s sake.
As the mom ahead of me left, however, I had an unsettling thought. If we had a baby now, my husband would be 70 when the baby graduated from high school. And I realized I couldn’t do that to a child. In the space of that 10-minute wait, I’d completely rearranged my life and changed it back again. No wonder I nap all the time, I thought.
The following week I was out of town, eating by myself in the hotel restaurant. I was seated at a table next to a couple and an infant. The mom looked to be in her mid-30s, the dad a little older. The baby was about 6 months old and completely flirting with me, and so I struck up a conversation with the parents.
I learned that they had six kids together, that the little guy with them that evening would be having a procedure on his throat the next morning, that the husband was a doctor and the wife had a difficult delivery with the last child. In short, I learned some pretty intimate details of their life and so felt comfortable enough to share my grocery-store fantasy of another child.
I mentioned the changes I would make to the house, how excited the kids would be to have a sibling (when you remind them that they each do, in fact, have a sibling, the usual response is, “a different one”), and the fact that I’m constantly sleep-deprived anyway because of the demon kitten and at least with an infant I could garner some sympathy.
I concluded by sharing my thoughts about a 70-year-old father watching his child graduate high school, and really, who could do that to a kid? The wife looked at me for a moment, and then pointed to her husband. “He’ll be 75 when this kid graduates.”
I raised my hand, said, “Check, please,” and turned to the husband, who was slightly amused. “Let me just say that you look great,” I said. “Nice meeting you both.” And I fled, with the realization setting in that this man was 57 years old, with an infant. He wasn’t concerned about his age. It gave me new hope.
At home I replayed for my husband the hotel dinner conversation and subsequent verbal fiasco, chuckling self-consciously at the last part. When I knew I had his sympathy, I said, “But you know what, honey? It made me realize that we really could do it—we really could have another baby! Wouldn’t that be awesome?”
And as I smiled my most engaging smile at this man to whom I’ve pledged my life, this man who has encouraged and supported me unfailingly for all of these years, who really has denied me nothing, I couldn’t help but think, admiringly, Wow. Just look at him.
He sure can run, for an old guy.
Maggie Lamond Simone is a book author, award-winning writer and mother of two living in Baldwinsville. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.