Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Unlike My Mother -- by Laura

I’m new to blogging, to motherhood, to New York, and Motherhood Later...Than Sooner. My name is Laura Houston, I am 45 years old, and I have twin boys Lyle and Wyatt who are 10 months old. I recently moved to Manhattan from a farm in Oregon, and I transitioned from having my own business to being a stay-at-home mom. We’re a different lot – we mothers of advanced maternal age – and I find older moms bring a richness to their job that opens up a treasure chest of insights and wisdom. I hope we can all share.

I didn’t have much of a role model when it came to mothering. After four kids and a desperately common life in the suburbs, my mother got tired of being a mom and she checked out. And I got tired of being her kid, so I checked out. I did whatever it took to get out of the house, out of that Midwestern suburb, and as far away as possible from her life, her bitterness, and her unhappiness.

That was the start of my journey into motherhood. I called it the Do-Not-Turn-Out-Like-My-Mother Plan, and I hoped it would serve me when I finally became a mother, which is something I desperately wanted some day. I made most of my life decisions based on this question: “Would my mother do it?” If the answer was no, I would do it. If the answer was yes, I would not.

In order to have a life unlike my mothers, I wanted an extraordinary man who would want an extraordinary woman. I made a list of everything I desired in a man, and I set about to be that person. I went back to school to get my master’s degree. I spent a summer kayaking in Glacier Bay, Alaska. I started my own business and became financially solvent. I bought an old house, remodeled it, and flipped it for twice what I paid for it. I volunteered as a tutor for at-risk youth, and I ran a half marathon. I became a temporary foster mother. My life was almost as full and as rich as I wanted it to be.

But at the age of 35, I still did not have that extraordinary man, and I was running out of time to have children. My friend Valerie and I made a pact that at the age of 37, we would rent a limo and take it to the fertility clinic in downtown Portland and get inseminated.

When you’ve got a backup plan in life, it often seems you rarely need it. I ended up finding that extraordinary man one year before the artificial insemination due date, and this man was worth waiting for. Together we bought a farm that would be the ideal place to raise children. After going through six years of fertility treatments, we were finally able to get pregnant with twins. Finally, I could be the mother I had been training to be.

But five months into my peaceful, blissful motherhood, the phone rang with a job offer for my husband. It was a big job. In Manhattan. I asked myself, “Would my mother do it?” And of course she would not. So we left the farm, the chickens, my gardens, and the grape vines and headed to the city with our twin boys. And here we are trying to figure it all out and navigate the new challenges of motherhood and a fast city.

Living my life trying not to be my mother is not easy. At all. In fact, it’s downright hard. Manhattan is a challenging place to live for a mother of twins. My stroller doesn’t fit through some doorways, on the bus, the subway, or in the trunk of a taxi cab. The winter weather alienated me from my walks in the park. My dearest friends and helpers are 3,000 miles away. But I’m not living my mother’s life. Sometimes that’s the only gauge I have for measuring how I am doing. And most of the time, that’s enough.

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Blogger joanna said...

Great post, Laura. I got a tear in my eye while reading it - sincerely.

For not having much of a role model, as you say, you seem to have turned out pretty f-ing fantastic. Lyle and Wyatt are two lucks sons of a gun (which I suppose makes you a gun. And I that is meant as a compliment, by the way - not that I am into firearms or anything, but you know what I mean).

10:53 AM  
Blogger Les said...

Who said you can't have it all? An amazing husband, wonderful healthy kids and most of all talent! The wait was worth it.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Jackie Shannon Hollis said...

Laura Houston BLOGS. YES!!! I've been waiting and waiting because YOU are one of the best writers of the day in day out of life, seeing small things and finding the greatness in them and the reverse too. I hope you get to guest more here because even though I'm not a late mom or even a mom, your words share it so well.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Debbra, Brent, Jack and Olivia Stanton said...

Hi Laura,
Welcome to NYC! I am also a mother of twins, probably the oldest Motherhood Later, although that was not my plan. After years of infertility treatments, I gave birth to my twins when I was 50 years old. It was an easy delivery - I almost had Olivia in a cab in the middle of Central Park. They were 6 weeks early and spent 1 month in the NICU. Once they were home, I took them to our favorite diner here on the Upper West Side (yes, my double stroller would fit through BOTH doors) every morning for breakfast. This neighborhood is a lot like the little town in Ohio where I grew up. You will probably find that is the case for most neighborhoods in NYC - all like tiny towns. My mom died when I was 10, so the people at that diner were and still are a great support to my family. Once spring is truly here and you are out strolling in the park again, you will probably see just how many twins there are here. It is definitely very different to be a mother of twins! Perhaps if there is a NYC chapter of Motherhood Later, we could all meet up for a Mom's Night Out. BTW, I will tell you what lots of other twin mothers told me through the years, it gets a LOT easier - a even more fun! Enjoy! Debbra

2:48 PM  

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