Archives: grown-up stuff

Generation Mama and the not-so-ancient breeder

A guest post I recently wrote for Little Kisses.

Thelma & Louise: the original selfie

I found out I was accidentally pregnant with my third child in the midst of my 40s. A third child was never an actively pursued option, to put things mildly. For a week or so, I sprawled in deep, dark shock. Yes, this changed a few life expectations. But the biggest surprise has been how into it I am.

Little Kisses asked me to write a guest post to discuss the differences in being pregnant in my 40s compared to my 30s, and I’m struggling to entertain you. At the moment, at 35 weeks pregnant, I can’t think of any age-related issues that seem either important or amusing. I could write about how old I’ll be when this child finishes high school, or turns 21. I could tell you that I’m called an “elderly multigravida”, which is a funny, archaic term.

I call myself the Ancient Breeder, but to be honest, this pregnancy does not make me feel ancient. If anything, it makes me feel young, fresh, and, despite the daily afternoon naps, quite vital. And crafty, like a hipster friend of Patience Hodgson. As they say, I’m so crafty, I make people. Even accidentally.

I'm So Crafty, I make people

I did feel ancient, once, this week, when I was a guest at a function populated by sweet, wholesome food bloggers. Why? I offered to take a photo across the table of a couple of fellow guests. (Her selfie-taking arm just seemed too short to encompass the glory of edible delight lying outside their shot.) I like to be pictorially helpful: I often volunteer to take strangers’ photographs for them. I have taken many blurred photos of Asian package tourists, so that everyone in the group gets in. I feel sorry for the one photo-taking parent who, you know, is the one always left out of the family documentation. I balance their albums.

But the selfie, I discovered, is sacrosanct. Blogger One looked at me aghast, not quite comprehending why I’d interfere in the gentle art of mobile-phone-self-photography. The other blogger, the one who looked quite like Moby (and hence closer to my middle-aged years; no twenty-year-old would look like Moby) realized what I’d offered, shook his head, and shrugged kindly at me.

“It’s a selfie thing,” he explained. (He may as well have added, “You wouldn’t get it, grandma”.)

A Royal Selfie

I didn’t get the selfie thing, but I got the bigger message. I really did. I took no offence; there was none to take. But this was the message: It’s not about age; it is about your generation. Or cohort, or tribe, or whatever other sociological label you prefer.

Moby of Brisbane was all of about 18 months younger than me. This misunderstanding had nothing to do with age and everything to do with tribes. For I was not one of theirs, and I don’t think that the heavily pregnant mature lady who shared their table for a couple of hours would be first on a shortlist for new members. Which is fine. Because I realise I belong to another generation, not just defined by age: Generation Mama*.

Generation Mama transcends age and forms new bonds. You don’t have to share birth decades, scary high-school-formal hairstyle memories, or the same pre-teen crush on either Cory, to share exhaustion, the slam of maternal love, and the maternal guilt and confusion that comes home with a new baby.

When I found out I was accidentally pregnant this time around, I thought a blog called The Ancient Breeder would be a hoot, but it’s sometimes proving to be less relevant as this pregnancy progresses. I hear more from followers in their 20s than those close to my own age. Perhaps I should write more age-specific posts, but the material just isn’t that exclusive. We’re all breeders, if we’re breeders, and the age bit isn’t so relevant. At the moment, I have more in common with my beautiful twenty-something niece, who writes The Single Mumpreneur blog, than with many women my own age.

Because our ages belong to different generations, but our circumstances are completely Generation Mama.

 

*Or Generation Parent, to be fair, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it…

 

A writer’s perilous life (insurance)

In a show of adult responsibility, I consider death, TPD (total and permanent disability), and trauma insurance. I am, after all, quite ancient, and will be part-responsible for three dependents soon. Eeeek.

I check estimated premiums online at Sunsuper, where you can plug in some basic info before doing an actual application.* In the box that asks for occupation, I type “writer”, because that’s what I put on these sorts of forms. Out of the varied occupations I minister day-to-day, “writer” is my favourite self-identification, even if the pay sucks, comparatively. Pure intellectual vanity. I start typing “wri…” and the drop-down menu suggests “Writer” “Technical Writer” “Feature Writer” or “Not on the list”.

I select Writer, and send the online application forth. Computer replies with a provisional amount. My estimated premium for death ($100,000) and TPD ($500,000) insurance, as a writer, is $71.61 a week, or $3,723 annually. This seems rather high.

Maybe I should consider changing my self-described occupation.

I have been spending a large proportion of the week in (unpaid) domestic employment. I wonder if this occupation costs a different amount to insure. I change my occupational selection from writer to “home duties”. I keep everything else constant.

The premium changes to $7.86 a week ($408 annually).

That is nine times less expensive.

Let that sit in your head for a minute.

Truth time: I make the lion’s (more a sealion, probably, and a cub at that) share of my income as a marketing consultant, although when it comes to marketing, I confess I sometimes share Bill Hicks’ view of the profession.

How much to insure a postgraduate-educated marketing consultant?  A little over four dollars a week, or $225.25 annually. Cheapest premium yet.

This is bizarre. I can understand dangerous, or unhealthy, jobs, attracting higher insurance premiums. Jobs like firefighter, police officer, or fighter pilot. I check these out. I also note a category called “Tunneling and underground mining and shot firer”. All would cost the same to insure as a writer.

So would a Circus Performer, Golf Professional, Factory Cleaner, or Television Presenter. (By now, I’ve adopted their Deferential Capitals.) But not an interstate bus driver or miner who doesn’t work underground. They’re cheaper to insure.

Strangely, if I were a Technical Writer, my insurance premiums would drop to a much lower premium than if I remained just a Writer.

My inner geek is fascinated. We need to plot data.

Insurance premiums based on occupation

It’s not a rigorous study: I pluck random occupations and plug them into the website, keeping my age, gender, amount to insure, and income constant. I do not exhaustively choose occupations, but I do keep choosing until I become exhausted! Or bored, more honestly.**

So why is it more expensive to insure a writer? The workplace is not as dangerous as a police officer’s. Are we a mental health (and possible suicide) risk? Do we have social habits that perhaps mean we are more likely to become incapacitated? Do television presenters (also expensive insurees) share these qualities? And why do those technical dudes get away with a lower premium?

It’s an expensive buzz, but calling myself a writer, I feel a little more exotic. Dangerous. In keeping with some hardcore company: me, the fighter pilots, and the circus performers.

Not that I’m going to call myself one on any future insurance forms.

 

*I chose to not proceed with a Sunsuper application, as it does not offer trauma insurance (the main type I seek). However, I continued to play with the website as it was fascinating.

 **I gathered this data sometime in May 2014. It’s taken me a month to put it to this blog. You can play with your own figures here.

Numbers

Dirty Harry 44A school mum sitting next to me as we watch our sons play tennis offers congratulations, and says “welcome to the 44 club”. Her youngest is now nearly in school, and I had always thought she was my age or younger: frankly, I didn’t really think about her age at all.

There it is. Who gives a mental number to someone they meet anyway? And as it goes, age is nothing but a number.

Perhaps having kids later keeps you youthful! Now that’s not a wishful thought, that’s a liferaft.

Back to top