When I was 23, I packed my bags and took a plane to Britain where, to my dad's horror, I had arranged only three nights accommodation for a year's study. In an attempt to put me off, he asked, "What about your boyfriend?"
"What about him?" was my curt response. What he didn't know was that my boyfriend had only days before asked me to marry him. I told him that one of us leaving the country wasn't a good reason to get married. We were too young, I said. And good thing too - it only took a couple of months before we broke up for good.
"Don't fall in love with a British guy," was my dad's final request.
I rolled my eyes. Five months later, I fell in love with that British guy. (Sorry, Dad.) Three years later and we were married. I still felt like we were too young at 26, but it was the best decision I ever made.
It was ten years before we had our first baby and waiting was the second best decision I ever made. We weren't ready before then. We were utterly selfish. I mean that in the best of ways. We flitted in and out of jobs. A slow weekend was only going out until 2am on Friday and not Saturday too. We hopped around spending weekends in Berlin and Brussels. And, oh, did we sleep.
When my daughter was born, I was 36. I'm very grateful for those intervening years. Her birth was traumatic and ended with her born severely disabled.
Had it happened when we were younger, I'm not sure we would have had the patience and resilience to deal with it. It was an awful, painful experience but, when we did come out the other side, we had no regrets. We had already travelled and partied and slept, oh had we slept. Our careers were settled. Our finances were in order. Our daughter had all kinds of special needs, but we managed.
Both our babies were born when I was over 35. We went on to have our second when I was 39 -- the third best decision of my life. We appreciated every aspect of his calm, uneventful birth and normal development. It was an absolute joy. But again, I don't think I would have appreciated that at 26. I didn't have the range of experience and insight then.
It doesn't surprise me that so many women are choosing to have babies in their 30s and 40s. I don't have any regrets about being an older mother. I think I'm a better mother for it. And, I think my children have a better life because of it.
Are you an older mum? Do you have any regrets?