Five Minutes With Houston’s “Motherhood Later” Chapter Head, Melissa Couch Salim

by Julie Tereshchuk on May 3, 2021 in Lifestyle, Family, Houston,

Motherhood at any age brings major challenges, and women delaying motherhood often struggle to find peer support.

Now, there’s an organization where those parenting later in life can feel validated and supported. Founded in New York state by then 42-year-old Robin Gorman Newman, “Motherhood Later….Than Sooner” serves as a resource while promoting friendship among mom peers.

The Motherhood Later website features articles on the subject, profiles of inspiring later in life parents, and a blog by later moms, experts, etc. Featured in USA TODAY, USA News and World Report, TIME, and beyond, there are in-person chapters literally all over the world, the most recent being Lagos, Nigeria and Houston, Texas.

We found out more from Houston chapter head blogger Melissa Couch Salim — herself a later mom.

At age 50, and with a husband several years older, Melissa Couch Salim was thrilled to be able to adopt Olivia. Photo courtesy Melissa Couch Salim

What is a “later mother?” 

By our definition, a  “later mom” is any woman who becomes a mom at age 35 plus or older, whether for the first time or again.

Is Motherhood Later open to “later fathers” and gay couples?  

The organization is open to all who are age appropriate…. whether single parents, later dads or gay couples. The website features profiles of inspiring later moms and dads, and gay parents have been featured. We even receive inquiries from women who are not yet a mom but hope to be and they want to know what the experience is like when you are over 35. 

What prompted you to get involved with Motherhood Later?  

I was looking for women my age who had young children. I realized early on that commonality among women 20 years or more younger than myself might be challenging.

The happy family. Photo courtesy Melissa Couch Salim

What is your role? 

In launching a Houston Chapter for Motherhood Later, I hope to find some later mom camaraderie in Texas, so we can support each other locally and be social as well.  I also host a bi-monthly Zoom with Robin. (Email Robin Gorman Newman to attend.)

At what age did you become a mother? 

I was 50 when I got the exciting call from the adoption agency that my daughter, Olivia, had been born. The adoption process was tough because of my age and the combined ages of my husband and myself. (He is 12 years older.) 

Most agencies have age requirements, and we did not fit any of them, so I had to really advocate for us and prove that we were healthy and fit to parent a child. Honestly, I’m still shocked it happened for us. It took a lot of hard work, perseverance and many, many prayers.

What has been the biggest challenge as a later mother? 

Honestly, the biggest challenge has been the judgement of others and feeling a bit out of place during a “mom” gathering. Another challenge is that the older you are, the more set in you are in your ways. It was easy when she was a baby, but toddlerhood has thrown us into this chaotic space that I have never experienced. 

Also, later moms most likely have older parents that they are also trying to take care of. I also have step children and step grandchildren and I want Olivia to feel as though she is growing up with them too. Finding the time where we can all be together is challenging….particularly during a pandemic.

A fitness enthusiast and competitive ballroom dancer, Melissa Couch Salim knows many other later moms who are very conscious of practicing good self care so they may be around as long as possible for their family. Photo courtesy Melissa Couch Salim

This may be an obvious question: what is the biggest reward? 

Yes, SO obvious! Miss Olivia was so worth the wait…. and I’m so happy I waited! I have more patience today, more wisdom, more freedom, and we have the financial stability to spend more quality time with her individually and as a family.

Raising a child is exhausting at any age. Is health a big concern for later moms?

While there can be judgement around age, unfortunately sickness knows no age, and many later moms I know are very conscious of practicing good self care so they may be around as long as possible for their family. I am a fitness enthusiast/competitive ballroom dancer, and want to raise my daughter to be healthy and strong. 

What else would you want us to know? 

Later moms have potentially flourished in their careers, traveled if desired, and lived our own lives fully before making the decision to take on parenting. Now we have the bandwidth to prioritize motherhood and model for our kids feeling fulfilled in life.  It’s a personal decision to become a mom regardless of age, and one that shouldn’t be judged! 

And finally, later mothers are the most grateful group of women I know because we all had a long and complicated journey to motherhood and are so appreciative to have become a parent.

A casual moment with the adorable Olivia. Photo courtesy Melissa Couch Salim

Cover photo courtesy Melissa Couch Salim

Julie Tereshchuk is the Editor-in-Chief of Texas Lifestyle Magazine.