Having 4 Babies after 40: Tamar Stone’s Story
Last week, in response to my article “Again?: Reflections on turning 40” in which I contemplated the possibility that I would be unable to have more children, I received a comment that made my eyebrows jump Heavenward…A JewishMOM named Tamar wrote the following:
“I feel a little out of my league here.
I just turned 49 and gave birth to my 10th child 4 weeks ago (KA”H).
I have to laugh at the memory of how I too shared many such thoughts when I turned 39, and how Hashem in His Wisdom decided to entertain me with a life I had never imagined…
In the meantime, 4 more kids have showed up. I gave away all my baby clothes TWICE, figuring I was “too old” to need them again…
To quote that famous baseball announcer, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
Enjoy life, ladies, and let Hashem take care of the Cheshbonos!”
Now that was a story that I just had to hear! So I Emailed Tamar, and she agreed to tell her inspirational story about her own depressing almost 40th birthday, and the many surprises Hashem has sent her since then…
Turning 39 Twice by Tamar Brooks Stone
I will tell the story of how I turned 39, twice.
One fine day in 2000, as I was blithely changing diapers, wiping noses, and chasing children into bed, I realized that my 39th birthday was approaching. I had never given much thought to my age, having been raised by an age-liberated mother who always taught me that “age doesn’t matter”.
Therefore, I was baffled by my emotional response to the approach of 39. How could it be that turning 39 was such an upsetting experience? After much thought and many tantrums, I realized that it was not the 39 part that offended me; it was the knowledge that 40 came right after it. So, I wondered, to an age-liberated woman like me, what could be so terrible about turning 40?
And I realized that what bothered me about arriving at the big Four Zero was the stark realization that I had lived 40 years and had not accomplished ANYTHING on my TO DO List of Life. For instance, I had been raised in a home where a person was supposed to be educated and accomplished. And even though I had achieved a Bachelor’s and a Master’s early on, I did not have a Career to show for it. My work history had been interrupted by my first pregnancy, and was on hold until my children were old enough to let me go back to work.
Consciously or unconsciously, I had assumed that by the age of 40, my husband and I would own a house, have sufficient income to take regular vacations, and afford minor amenities like summer camp for the kids and occasional meals out at restaurants. The reality of my life as I approached 39 was that my husband had just lost his job, and we could not qualify for a mortgage. Let’s not even discuss that in our neighborhood, housing prices were skyrocketing, and houses were virtually impossible to find, let alone afford.
I had assumed that I would always have smooth relationships with my relatives and that as the years passed, we would share in each others’ simchos, gliding effortlessly around the icebergs of our variant lifestyles and religious interpretations. Need I say that my fantasy was as reliable as the Titanic?
I had assumed that as I turned 40, my body would surely slow down and give me a break from the endless cycle of pregnancy and nursing which caused mental fog, physical exhaustion, and emotional hurricanes.
I had assumed that as I turned 40, I would achieve some positive influence on my community, as I had previously been a community organizer, social worker, and psychologist. I had hoped that others would benefit from my experience and depend on me to help out or inspire, as needed. Instead, with my brain perennially on vacation in Babyville and my body a lackluster lump, I found myself being particularly uninspired—let alone capable of inspiring others.
I spent that year angry and depressed, trying not to think about my upcoming birthday. And then a funny thing happened as April 30, 2000 approached, I did the math. I was about to turn 38, not 39!! I had miscalculated, and I learned something from my mistake.
Hashem had given me another chance to turn 39 again. And this time, since I had already gotten the anger and disappointment and frustration out of my system, I intended to enjoy every minute of being 39, and 40, and 41, and…. To be thankful for everything and to see that it really IS all a blessing.
It’s funny how time has a way of sliding past you when you’re not paying attention. As long as I didn’t notice the day/month/year, just focused on the details of daily life, my age just didn’t bother me. My past work as a geriatric therapist gave me the opportunity to listen to the life stories of previous generations.
One of the lessons I learned from my elderly clients was that life is what you make of it.
After I had the opportunity to re-do my 39th year, I made an effort to refocus my view of my life and my expectations. Once I realized that it was Hashem’s job to make my To Do list, it was so much easier to live through my days and years with joy.
I calmed down and learned to celebrate each year and its abundant blessings. In spite of the voices in my head that told me I was too old to have yet another baby, or that I was wasting my time “just being a Mommy,” I continually tried to remind myself that those voices were not my Truth…
Hashem was the only Truth, and He surely knew what was good and right for me.
I eventually did celebrate my 40th birthday; I even had a grand farbrengen and gave a speech that made everyone laugh. And in spite of the wagging heads of my contemporaries, I continued as before, having babies, wiping noses, chasing kids into bed, and letting Hashem dictate the To Do List of my Life.
About a month ago, I celebrated my 49th birthday and two weeks later gave birth to my 10th child.
We named her Shaina Brocha, because I have learned that every stage of life is truly a beautiful blessing.
I have learned that by letting Hashem carry out His plan, I will be blessed.
May we all have the wisdom to receive His blessings with joy.
Tamar Brooks Stone lives with her husband and 10 children in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, still dreaming of making Aliyah and making a difference…