Stay-At-Home Dad: Old dad, young dad
By Howard A. Ludwig March 15, 2012 11:46AM
Howard A. Ludwig celebrated his 35th birthday recently. In comparison with fellow parents he knows, he is considered to be on the “young” side. | File Photo
Updated: April 19, 2012 8:08AM
I celebrated my 35th birthday last month.
(Hold for applause.)
Actually, it was rather unremarkable. The evening consisted of dinner and a movie with friends. It was a fine time, but nothing happened that should be considered for the sequel to the movie “Date Night.”
The milestone did get me thinking about my age, particularly my age compared with other parents. I have 4- and 5-year-old sons. It’s no coincidence that most of the other adults The Wife and I see socially also have children roughly the same age as Bubba and Peter.
Tipped off to the event by Facebook, many of these fellow parents wished me happy birthday over the weekend. Upon finding out I turned 35, several friends replied by saying “Wow, you are young,” or “You’re a baby!”
I never thought of myself as a “young parent.” I looked into it a bit last week and was directed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I thought it strange that this would be the group assigned to keep track of births in the U.S., but so be it.
The CDC tracks only the birth age of mothers, so I’d have to extrapolate from there. According to the numbers, the mean age of a non-Hispanic, white mother giving birth to her first child in 2006 was 26. The Wife celebrated her 29th birthday three days after Bubba was born.
I’m four months older than The Wife. So, we are actually slightly older than what’s considered the norm.
We get a bit closer to the middle with Peter. The mean age of a non-Hispanic, white mother giving birth to her second child in 2007 was 28.7. The Wife was 31 when she delivered Pete.
The numbers also point to a larger trend, namely that Americans are waiting longer to have children. In 1968, the mean age among mothers of all races giving birth to their first child was 21.4, according to CDC data.
The numbers show a steady increase in the age of first-time moms. In 2009, the mean age among mothers of all races giving birth to their first child was 25.2, according to the CDC.
I’m not surprised couples are waiting longer to have children. In a world where college education has become the standard, it takes longer to get established in a career. I think most people want a bit of that stability before jumping into parenthood. At least, The Wife and I did.
And as I think more about the fellow parents who acted surprised by news of my 35th birthday, I wonder if they were just being nice.
None of them seems significantly older than I am. And I have to admit that hearing, “Wow, you are young,” is much better than hearing “Happy Birthday old man. Glad you are still here with us.”
Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business writer who traded his reporter’s notebook for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.