In 2021, I had my first child at the age of 43. I am what’s known as a “late-in-life mother” (LILM). That’s what they call us at the hospital, at least to our faces. Behind our backs, who knows? Geriatrics? High risk? Painfully aware of our rights and entitlements? There are a lot of us, struggling to get up off the floor.
I don’t know what the age cut-off is to be considered a LILM. I’m going to suggest it’s 37 and over and wait for the angry DMs from that age group to come rolling in. Maybe it’s got more to do with how much Gorman you wear. If you’re in multicoloured abstract-patterned culottes, sun-smart hat and a loose-fitting boxed black singlet, then welcome to LILM-hood.
My daughter, Gwen, now 16 months old, is truly a child of the times. My partner, Lloyd Langford (also a comedian and a LILF), and I were placed under house arrest in a badly serviced apartment while on tour in Sydney during one of the snap lockdowns. Nine months later, Gwen arrived: born on the day the second Victorian lockdown ended. But it isn’t as simple as all that; I’ll go back a bit.
Often late to a party, I only discovered comedy at 29. My 30s felt thrilling and wild, not always easy. While most of my school friends were buying houses and having children, I was in open-mic rooms, drunk until 5am, learning the trade – in more ways than one. I love the company of other comedians, their cynicism and impulsiveness. I began travelling around sleeping on people’s floors to do gigs, riding the extreme highs and the lowest of lows that only come with bombing on stage (and rejections from men, who I was also right into at the time).
Mostly I loved it, until I woke up one day at the age of 39 and realised I lived alone in a one-bedroom flat owned by my cousin. I was lonely, which is one of the hardest things to admit. I’d peer out at the other people living in the other one-bedroom flats, some of whom I’d even based characters on, and think, I’m just the same: pottering around, going to the bins, crying in the shower.
Never one to think much about the future (as my super balance will attest), the penny dropped; I may never have children. Some women don’t want children, of course. Annoyingly, I did.
So, like many women who want children but find themselves in the same predicament, I started the self-talk: “I’ll be fine. I’ll travel. It’s better for my career.” It’s a downside of modern womanhood that you can’t just collapse onto the ground in front of everyone and say, “I want someone to love me and a little baby to hold.” On top of this pain, you must outwardly celebrate your independence and strength.
Then I got so lucky that it brings tears to my eyes. A good man turned up in the form of Welsh comedian Lloyd Langford. Just after, COVID-19 hit and he was trapped here. He just said, “Yes, all right, me too” when I said I’d like to have a baby. As easy as that, which is what people always tell you good relationships should be like.
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