I remember when my husband and I were young and in love and imagining the next decades of our lives together. There would be careers and homes and adventures and children. Obviously children. We planned for them early in our marriage and hoped they would come with a nice, neat, two-year spacing in between, starting somewhere in our late 20s and ending in our 30s. And of course, we’d be done having children by the time I turned 40.

But here I am. Newly 40 with a 6-month-old baby on my hip. I will be sending my oldest to his senior year and my youngest to kindergarten just a few short years from now.

This was not part of the plan.

I had given away all the baby things. I forgot how much formula you mix with how many ounces of water. I couldn’t remember when babies are supposed to start sleeping through the night . . . do they ever sleep through the night?

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My hair is flecked with gray. I have wrinkles that didn’t exist when I first started on this motherhood journey (many of them courtesy of this motherhood journey, I imagine). My joints get creaky when I stand up from the rocking chair and some days I just feel tired all over.

I know at kindergarten drop-off, I will be mistaken for the grandmother. I have no intention of going down the slide at the playground with her. I have zero tolerance for Chuck E. Cheese left in my soul. My jokes are old, my lullabies are ancient, my baby books are chewed and my hand-me-downs are Carters from when they had an Eric Carle collection in the early 2000s.

We will probably never share clothes in her teen years. I will not be the cool mom.

But my baby doesn’t care. She doesn’t notice I’m not as spunky as the other moms wearing their babies through the grocery store. She doesn’t care that I’m singing her the theme song to Dora the Explorer instead of Paw Patrol. (What even is Paw Patrol? Are they crime-fighting dogs? I have so many questions.) She is not phased by my age or my wrinkles or my love of a good afternoon nap . . . for both of us.

She loves me. I am her favorite person. She would not trade me in for a younger model. And the truth is a younger version of me wouldn’t have been the kind of mom I’m able to be for her. I’m not nearly so worried about what the rest of the world thinks of my parenting. I’m confident in how I’m raising her, which shows in how confident she is that she’s loved and safe and precious. My calm down baby dance is legendary by now, and I’m getting close to being able to feed a baby liquified carrots without spilling half of it down her onesie.

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I’m an old mom, but I’m a good mom. I didn’t start out this way. It’s a process. It takes time.

I did not plan to be an old mom. It turns out, God does not care so much about your plans.

He is not limited by them or bound to them. He knows what we don’t knowwhat we’re ready for and when we’re ready for it. I am so thankful for the unexpected gift of a baby in this season of my life. I can see how in so many ways she’s keeping me young.

There’s a harsh reality as an old mom. I know I may not get to see this precious girl grow old herself. I may not be given as many years as a grandma to her children. But that’s not promised to any of us, whatever age we have children. Being an old mom has made me thankful for each day we get together. She is worth the extra gray hairs, the sleepless nights, the many hours of Octonauts or PJ Masks or whatever cartoon is popular five years from now.

I am an old mom. I didn’t expect to be, but now I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Maralee Bradley

Maralee is a mom of six pretty incredible kids. Four were adopted (one internationally, three through foster care) and two were biological surprises. Prior to becoming parents, Maralee and her husband were houseparents at a children’s home and had the privilege of helping to raise 17 boys during their five year tenure. Maralee is passionate about caring for kids, foster parenting and adoption, making her family a fairly decent dinner every night, staying on top of the laundry, watching ridiculous documentaries and doing it all for God’s glory. Maralee can be heard on My Bridge Radio talking about motherhood and what won't fit in a 90 second radio segment ends up at www.amusingmaralee.com.