My nine-year-old daughter is cartwheeling her
way home from school while I lag behind her,
loaded down with her backpack like an
She’s my perpetual motion child so I’ve
become accustomed to her high energy ways.
I’m surprised when she sneaks up behind me
and quietly slips her hand into mine. I smile as I
feel the warmth of her hand and how perfectly it
molds into my own.
I’m a second time around parent and someone
who has experienced the best and worst that
motherhood offers, so I appreciate moments like
these even more.
In the world of mothers, I am a definite
anomaly – a 50-something mom with daughters,
ages nine and 12. I’m reminded they’re young
enough to be my grandkids every time I go to
their school and see the playground filled with
young moms in spaghetti strap tank tops.
Or when I’m chatting with my friends whose
kids are getting married or graduating from university.
It may seem out of sync for a menopausal
mom to be shuffling her kids off to gymnastics
classes and birthday parties, but the truth is, I
wouldn’t have it any other way. Besides, there
are some hidden advantages. After all, how
many of my same-age friends still join their kids
on the trampoline for a few bounces or read
Walter the Farting Dog every night?
It didn’t happen by choice. It was thrust upon
me by tragedy when my teenage son Ryan was
killed in an accident and I suddenly lost the right
to call myself a mother.
In the months that followed, there were many
times I felt like I might drown in my grief.
As I stumbled through the darkness, the only
thing I knew for sure was that I had to become a
mother again. I pushed through and completed
the paperwork to adopt a baby from China.
A few months after my application was approved,
I flew to a city outside of Shanghai and
met my beautiful nine-month-old daughter who
I named Emma. Four years later, now married,
I travelled back to China to meet our adorable
19-month-old daughter, who we named Katie.
Motherhood second time around is vastly
different for me because both the philosophical
and practical foundations from which I parent
On the practical front, where I was once a
frazzled single mom working as a reporter at
a high pressure newspaper job, I now have the
luxury of a supportive spouse and I’m writing
On the philosophical side, my perspective on
life has altered dramatically, both with age and
from having survived a tragic loss. You tend
not to take things for granted when you’ve lived
through hell so even the unexpected touch of my
daughter’s hand has a special sweetness about it.
Those feelings of gratitude surface unexpectedly,
like when I’m sitting around the breakfast
table or watching TV. I’ll look at them and feel
like the luckiest parent in the world.
I also parent more consciously, so I’ve thought
about what I want to teach my girls. One of the
most important things is to instill a sense of resilience
in them so they’ll go into the world ready
to handle what falls their way.
Teaching can’t happen if we’re not connected
with our kids and one way I do that is by having
“alone times,” whether it’s a lunch out or simply
laying on their beds in the dark with them and
listening to them talk.
I’ve also come to recognize that parenting is
more often about what we do than what we say.
Much of what our kids learn comes from what
they see us doing when we think they’re not
I also realize the importance of making my
home a sanctuary where my girls will feel safe,
being surrounded by people who love them
Finally, as much as parenting can make us feel
powerless – and it can bring us to our knees – we
are always on the side that has more power. Being
aware of that has helped guide me in how I
love, accept and enjoy my girls for the energetic,
inquisitive, intelligent beings they are.
Freelance writer Denise Davy is enjoying the ups and downs of
parenthood the second time around.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, May/June 2013.