Thursday, 31 March 2011

Mental Arithmetic

It is about now in the UK, just in advance of Clinton cards Mothers day, that every newspaper and magazine has the bright idea to interview mothers and daughters about different aspects of their relationship.

I read these articles with idle curiosity. The fact that I have neither a daughter, or a mother, doesn't unduly upset me in the consumption of my reading matter. But it is only recently that I have become conscious of a little habit I have when reading such an article.

It is one that is so ingrained that it took me a while to register that I was even doing it.

All the articles, as a matter of course, will mention both the daughter's and mother's age; and I will automatically subtract one from the other.

I have to know what age the mother was when she had her child. Anyone who was nine months or older than I am at that point is a win. Anyone who was younger than 34 is a lose. I lose a lot.

But it gets worse.  There are occasions when someone will mention a child, or mother in passing.  For example "That was the sixties and the age of free love so I became pregnant with my first child, no idea who the father was..." I'll scan back to the bit where she says she was born at the tail-end of the war and work out if she was born between 1941 and 1942 and got pregnant between 1960 and 1969 she was between 18 and 28 when she achieved what I have failed to achieve.

Worrying, isn't it?

I don't refer to it as mental arithmetic because I can do it in my head...  Am I the only one who does this?




21 comments:

  1. Mental math gets me all the time. I remember thinking "I will *never* be as 'old' as my mom was when I have kids... she was *so* old" and, ya, she was 28. Then I remember my SIL telling me not to worrk, she had her first baby at 34... and thinking "Oh gawd, I hope that's not me, she's *so* old". And yet here I am... 33 and single. So, what, I have to date for a while, be engaged for a while, get married and THEN have kids? The mental math says I'm screwed. Sca-rew-ed!!

    And then I just tell myself "Jennifer Aniston's 42 and she's still single and childless, I've got time". Right... because that's a valid comparison...

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  2. I do the same thing, it is bizarrely important to me to know about women who become mothers from the age of 39. Even now when there is absolutely no chance at all of me having a child. I've decided it's fine and normal...

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  3. I'm dealing with the joy of secondary infertility (Yes! Lucky to even have one, I know!) and the math I do is how big the age gap is between every pair of siblings I see. I must look pretty freakin' creepy figuring out how old kids are in the grocery store and looking to find ones that are further apart than mine will be should I ever get/stay pregnant again. (doesn't happen too often)

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  4. One of the first things i do is looks for ages on blogs and I latch desperately to those my age or older and hope and pray for their success, because surely if they succeed , I will - right ? ;) Unfortunately almost everyone is younger than me....what kind of baseline comparison is that, only more depressing.

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  5. Oh, completely. I do this ALL the time. And, I lose ALL the time. The absolute worst was when I told one of my college freshmen that I was 36 (because she said she couldn't believe I'd been teaching here for 9 years) and she said "My mom's 36!" Now, sure, I wouldn't have wanted to have a kid at 18. But, seriously? I lost big time there.

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  6. Yep, although I do have a co-worker who had twins (IVF) at 36 so I still have someone older than me as a constant barometer (not always a positive example, but helps tip the scales.) I also have another co-worker (part time and out of the office) who stuggled to get pregnant with the first one, was told she would never get pregnant again, which made number two a bit of shock. And she was older than me.
    The problem with this type of arithmatic. "They managed and they were older, why can't I?" It doesn't matter from which direction, comparisons are depressing

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  7. I absolutely do this. With each passing month, and negative test results, I calculate whether or not I'll have my birthday before the pretend baby would be born if it should work the next month.

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  8. I am really bad at math in general but I can backward calculate a due date, birthday or pregnancy age like nobody's business. I also spend a good deal of time doing what I call "forward calculating"...how old I'll be when (insert anything here that has to do with conception, pregnancy, children growing up, developmental milestones in the kids of friends, etc.). I sometimes wonder how people operate in this world without this constant mental activity. I agree, comparisons are depressing.

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  9. I used to do that all the time. First it was "Oh God please don't let me be pregnant over the summer". Well after not getting pregnant for quite awhile I had to re-check my priorities. Then I was always calculating mother's/children's ages hoping to see that someone over 40 had conceived. Because every time a woman 41 plus was able to get pregnant I still had my hat in the ring and a fighting chance. Well, got pregnant at 43 and delivered at 43, so now I just hope that I'm serving as someone else's inspiration. However now I calculate how old I'll be when the kid graduates. It's always something isn't it?

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  10. I do it all the time. Like anonymous above, I look for over forties mums for inspiration. So anonymous, you have given this 41 year old a glimmer of hope.

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  11. Guilty as charged.

    As my marriage crumbles, I also find myself comparing to friends and people who have been married LESS time than me and who have got their BFP and held onto it (unlike me who has miscarried 4 times). The most shocking was my former BFF who fell pg one month after her wedding :-(

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  12. I just posted a similar thing the other day. If it has to to with dates/numbers, my brain turns into a calculator.

    If it makes you feel less neurotic, for years, I've set my alarm clock such that the number adds up to 8 or 9 (ie 6:21 or 6:47). I can do this without even realizing it! Oh, and it cant be any time that ends in 0.

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  13. I do the same thing. But if it makes you feel any better, I am 37 years older than my daughter...

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  14. I just had to come back to add; my husband's cousin at 39, just gave birth to their 2nd and 3rd genetic babies, (twins through IVF) that are joining their 19 month old first genetic (IVF) son, and their 7 and 8 year old adopted special needs children. Which secures her spot in my eyes for Awesomest Of All Time.

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  15. Not the only one, I did it all the time too. And I too scanned blogs looking for older mums, and cheered them on!

    So here's the sum for today: I'm 44 and just over 2 months and my son is 4 and almost 8 months. Subtract 12 weeks because he was premature. See? You win!

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  16. i'm guilty of that, too! great post.

    my blog is the stork drop zone and i'm awarding inspiring bloggers (nominated by my readers) with my "humpday hero" award. my readers nominated you, because of your humor, positivity and inspiring story. you can email me at storkdropzone at gmail dot com to talk about featuring you on my blog! :)

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  17. I totally do this all the time. Anytime I find out a mother and child's age, it's an automatic response. I always curse them in my head when I figure out that they were the age I WANTED TO BE when giving birth.

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  18. I do the same thing. Worse, I look back at my family tree and do the same arithmetic (have discovered, ahem, more than a few "woods colts" in this way). I am filled with warm fuzzies for women who procreated, who were older than me.

    There are not that many of them.

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  19. My maths is just as complicated, it’s all about the age of the woman compared to the age gap between her kids. I torture myself first with the she’s younger than me and has two kids(+) scenario and then I start thinking about how old the first was when she fell pregnant again. Anyone older than me with one kid younger than D is a win, everything else loses. I lose a lot.

    It doesn’t help that I’m a first generation infertile… my mum was 21 with 3 kids under 3 and is fond of saying she fell pregnant every time my dad took his pants off, my nan had a typical 60’s shotgun wedding @ 17 (and 6 months UTD) and my great grandmother had 15 kids (none of them multiples!), her youngest was born around the same time as some of her grandkids and at my age she was two years off her first grandkid being born.

    I hate maths.

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  20. I haven't done that too much yet, though I guess I will start soon. What's harder on me are people my age that are having their 2nd now... how will I ever "catch up"?
    Sigh.
    Thinking of you.

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