For many women, the ticking of the proverbial biological clock is not as loud as the sound of the open road or the ceremonial song of Pomp and Circumstance. At least, not right away.
The number of women who have delayed first-time motherhood until their mid-30s or beyond has grown tenfold over the past 30 years, coining the moniker: new later motherhood. Its the subject of a new book titled, Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood (Basic Books, 2008).
The women I spoke with told me that they had their kids when they felt ready, author Elizabeth Gregory, associate professor and director of the Womens Studies Program at the University of Houston, said. Most consistently, I heard that waiting offered them the chance to establish themselves, as individuals and in their work, to find the right partnersand to achieve a measure of financial stability. When they did have their kids, they felt ready to focus on their childrens development rather than their own.
A later mom herself, Gregory says she isnt advocating for women to wait to have children. Rather, she is presenting a snapshot of a current phenomenon, and citing reasons why some women make that choice. She spent two and a half years speaking to 113 new later moms who had their first child, by birth or adoption, after age 35. The womens ages at first birth range from 35 to 56 and they come from various backgrounds and professions. They are married, divorced, single, straight, gay, moms of one or of several kids. Most live in Houston and others come from cities across the nation.
Take Julie, for example (all the women who were interviewed are identified by pseudonyms to protect their privacy). A businesswoman who became a mom for the first time at age 39, she pursued an MBA before she married at 30, and together with her new husband pursued professional interests that included long hours and lots of traveling. When their first child came, Julie says she already
|Contact: Marisa Ramirez|
University of Houston