My husband is a beat poet, a professional fundraiser, and the proudest father I’ve ever known. He also happens to be 35 years older than me, and 60 years older than our son.
Believe me, if you had asked me five years ago who I imagined marrying and starting a family with … a man old enough to be my own father would not have been top of the list. But love is a wonderful and surprising thing, and as we tell people who ask how we met, we just kinda bumped and stuck.
To those on the outside, there are many disadvantages to our unconventional relationship. The mistake people make is thinking that we haven’t given consideration to those ourselves. Of course we’ve thought about the future, of course we know that things won’t always be as easy and fun as they are now, and of course we realise that we look a little odd when we go out … we dated for six months before moving in together, and several nights a week we would linger over dinner, drinking wine, talking about all the reasons we shouldn’t commit to each other. It is a standing joke between us that, due to those six months, there is no good restaurant in Edinburgh that I haven’t cried in.
It is tough, when you are giddily falling in love, to stand back and look at your relationship with objective eyes, but we knew we had to. If we were serious about making things work we had to persuade our family and friends that this was the real deal, and we couldn’t do that without believing it ourselves. All that talking paid off, and because we became completely confident in the strong foundations of our relationship, others did too. To anyone who sees us together, it is very obvious how deeply we are in love.
Believe it or not, there are advantages to a relationship with a large age difference, too. Knowing that we will never celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary means that we don’t have time to waste. We make the most of every single day, and refuse to get caught up in the petty arguments that consume many couples.
Having a child has made that “live for the moment” philosophy even more pertinent, because obviously my husband and son won’t get as long with each other as most families do.
Again, we knew it was an enormous decision, and we talked about it endlessly, making sure that we were doing it for the right reasons and not purely selfish ones. We knew that we could provide a safe, happy and loving home for a baby, but how would we work things out financially when my husband retired? How would our child cope if his Daddy’s health declined? What if he or she were bullied because their Dad looked like their Grandpa?
We really believe, though, that there are no guarantees, whatever your age. Both of us had somewhat turbulent upbringings, and we are convinced that having an awesome father around, even for a short while, is preferable to having a crap father around for life.
And he really is an awesome father. To have your first child at sixty is no small thing, but to throw yourself into the job with as much energy and enthusiasm and excitement as my husband has done is quite incredible. Despite holding down a demanding full-time job, he is never too busy to read a book with Tom, or get down on the floor and wrestle with him.
My two boys love each other so dearly. When I was struggling in the early days of motherhood, it was seeing their love for each other that helped me come to terms with our new life. Now that my son is nearly two, their relationship is even stronger. Seeing Tom perched on his Daddy’s shoulders, giggling away at some shared joke, makes all those early sleepless nights and periods of postpartum depression worthwhile.
We still do get some odd looks when we go out, and I am sure there are those who think our relationship is wrong. But what could be wrong about two people in love, happily married, bringing up their son? When it comes to building a family, age really is nothing more than a number.