ntil recently I didn’t know what was more embarrassing: asking a woman when her baby was due, only to find out she’d had it, or mistaking a mother for being the grandmother of a child?
I’d say the answer is probably the latter. If you are on the plump side you can at least console yourself that you can lose weight.
But being called “nanny” when you are actually “mummy”... in the words of one of Catherine Tate’s uptight male characters: “HOW VERY, VERY DARE YOU!”
My top chick friend, who we’ll call Penny, who is by no means granny looking, in fact I’d call her one of the scrummy mummies of the playground, is reeling after an old duffer mistook her for “nanny”.
Yes, she’s a mum in her early 40s and she says it was a bad-hair day that day, but she is inconsolable. Reassuring and counselling about old duffers getting out of touch with age was not working, so I thought I’d dig up a little research about ‘older mothers’
Us women ARE leaving it later to have children. In fact, the Office for National Statistics has just released figures that say in 2011 nearly half the women who gave birth in England and Wales were over 30.
For comparison, in 1973 the average age of women giving birth was 26.4 years, according to the ONS, and this age has been increasing ever since.
This is what it says by way of some kind of explanation: "The overall rise since 1973 reflects the increasing numbers of women who have been delaying childbearing to later years.
“Possible influences include increased participation in higher education, increased female participation in the labour force, the increasing importance of a career, the rising opportunity costs of childbearing, labour market uncertainty, housing facts and instability of partnerships."
And why not kick into the equation, for arguments sake, that Mr Rights don’t just grow on trees – if you plan on becoming a two-parent family.
Being an older mother can give a child many advantages, so says Professor Elizabeth Gregory who was quoted in The Guardian in 2007 and who is also the author of Ready: Why Women Are Embracing the New Later Motherhood.
“I have found an overwhelming number and range of reasons why what I have termed the ‘new later mothers’ are absolutely right to delay motherhood,” she says.
“For one thing, they have a stronger family focus and feel ready to focus on family rather than trying to juggle priorities because they have achieved many of their personal and career goals.
“They also have more financial power, because new later mothers have established careers and higher salaries. They also have greater self-confidence, because they have more career experience and their management skills often translate directly into managing a household and advocating for their children.”
She also claims that women who delay having a family are much more likely to have brighter, well-behaved children, for a few reasons: birth mothers know much more about nutrition throughout pregnancy and they may have a better established home life, which is more conducive to learning.
So, to the old duffer who has upset my friend, maybe the answer should have been this: “Yes, I’m an older mother, but that means my baby is going to be smart. Obviously, your mother was a teenager when she had you!”