I know what most of you are thinking after reading the title of this blog: “Only 11 years?! My kid could age me that in one week of school holidays!”
In a study released earlier this year, scientists from Virginia’s George Mason University reported that women who have given birth appear to age faster biologically than those that are childfree. The difference on a cellular level was equivalent to around 11 years.
The study of 2,000 American women aged between 20 and 44, found that the length of telomeres were shorter in the mums than in the childfree women. Basically, telomeres are a compound structure at the end of a chromosome. Each time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter. When they are too short, the cell can no longer divide and the process is associated with aging.
Of course, this is only one study and scientists admit that they need to do further research to understand why this occurs. But I reckon I can pinpoint how those 11 years of extra aging came about. It’s probably down to these very special “mum moments”:
Pregnancy = 2 years of aging
Nine months of morning sickness, back ache, tender breasts, and bladder bouncing, along with every other little niggle that pregnancy can bring, is definitely worthy of a large chunk of the total years of aging.
The birth = 1 year of aging
Like, do I even need to explain this one!
Sleepless nights = 2 years of aging
The first month of my first born’s life is a complete blur thanks to the jarring realisation that I will never, ever sleep the same again. The second month I remember way too vividly thanks to colic!
Feeding battles = 1 year of aging
Whether you’re struggling with attachment issues, a distracted baby, or trying to focus your eyes to measure out formula correctly at four in the morning, it all adds up. Once they’re on to solids then you’ve got those awesome dinnertime battles to look forward to!
The first poonami = 6 months of aging
If it happens at home, count your lucky stars. If it is out in public, add on another six months! The one that required me to undress my baby in the bath was a life changer.
Leaving the house with a newborn = 6 months of aging
Once you’ve packed everything bar the kitchen sink, changed the baby three times and fed them twice, just remembering where the keys are can be more mind-wrenching than long division. Speaking of which …
Helping your kid with homework = 1 year of aging
Whether it’s guiding them through those first readers (which, we might add, are not great page-turners!), trying to explain the complexities of the English language (it’s not worth it), or trying to recall the processes for long division (Google is your friend), it will all give you a profound sense of appreciation for teachers.
First day of school = 1 year of aging
The realisation that your baby is growing up takes a toll on mums. You’re gonna need so many tissues!
Never going to the bathroom alone again = 1 year of aging
Explaining to your toddler that you have gone to the bathroom and will be out in two minutes, not entered a portal into another universe, is a conversation that you will have over, and over, and over again.
First night away from your kid = 6 months of aging
Are they OK? Are they warm enough? Are they too warm? Are they hungry? Did they eat too much? Should I call? Why didn’t they call?
Family holidays = 6 months of aging
It’s supposed to be a holiday – for everyone! But parenting doesn’t stop just because you left the house. In fact, it gets downright harder because you now have restless kids, unfamiliar surroundings, forgotten essential items and a massive hole in your bank account.
Total = 11 years of aging
So there it is. But as much as our kids have the ability to age us, I’m sure parents would agree – we would give any number of sleepless nights and grey hairs just to see our kids happy and healthy.
By the way, the first time you give your teen a driving lesson … there’s another 11 years right there!
This blog was written by Julie Scanlon, Editor for Kidspot NZ.
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