Janet Jackson’s late-in-life baby: a calling she could no longer ignore?

No matter our ages, incomes or career mentalities, the strong pull of motherhood is always waiting for us.

Janet Jackson at amfAR Cinema Against Aids Gala, May 2013. AGF s.r.l. | REX | Shutterstock

This past October, when Janet Jackson finally confirmed the rumors that she and her husband, Wissam Al Mana, were expecting a child, the pop star said: “We thank God for our blessing.” And yesterday, news spread that Jackson and Al Mana were able to finally meet that blessing after Jackson gave birth to a son, Eissa.

Though their only statement was that the pop star had a “stress-free healthy delivery” and was “resting comfortably,” surely they are still thanking God for their new blessing. Especially because the blessing of motherhood was a delayed one for Jackson. At age 50, Jackson is older than the typical first-time mom. Jackson told reporters: “Please, if you can, try to understand that it’s important that I do this now,” and since then, hasn’t had much to say on the subject.

While we only speculate why Jackson didn’t have a child until now (she only married her husband in 2012 and she has certainly been busy with a blockbuster career), her late-in-life longing for a child makes all the sense in the world to many women. There’s an undeniably strong pull for a woman to become a mother … even if sometimes it takes years—decades, even—for some women to realize it.

Though there are those who remain content to be childless, plenty of other women—who expected to stay happy and kid-free, fulfilled in their work or whatever else life has for them—often find themselves shocked to be overcome with a desire for a child later in life. No matter how fulfilled you feel, it seems the desire for motherhood isn’t an easy one to shake. It can wait for you, dormant and patient, until you’re ready to let it in. Maybe it’s at age 30, or maybe it hangs around until age 50, like Janet Jackson’s case. Maybe you think the desire has been filled at three kids, and suddenly, you realize you’re ready for a fourth or fifth child.

MORE TO READ: Am I being greedy for wanting a fifth baby?

And for some women, it’s possible that late-in-life pregnancy wasn’t an afterthought or a change of heart, but part of the plan all along: In 2006, Benzies et al. conducted a study of 45 women aged 20-48 years old “to identify factors that influenced their decisions about the timing of motherhood.” Older women gave the researchers a very straightforward reason: that their readiness to bear children was affected by wanting to have other life experiences before having children.

But, of course, all of this hits up against a hard truth: Not every woman who is overcome with the desire of motherhood in her 40s or 50s will be able to conceive and birth a child—whether through conception or adoption—but when that desire of the heart is met with a child to love, the blessing and the goodness of God is hard to deny.

We see this blessing in the wonderful late-in-life stories of miraculous pregnancies.

We see this blessing in stories of adoption—of families opening their doors to children who don’t share DNA, but with whom they share a name and a heart.

We see this blessing in stories of childless people who dote on nieces and nephews, who go the extra mile for students, who are able to mentor and shape the lives of young people—even if they are not related.

And we even see this blessing in the stories of the Bible. How many times do we read of female heroes of the Bible who longed for a child and yet didn’t have one till later in life? Though cultural implications would have made Sarah, Elizabeth, Rachel, and Hannah all long for a child 9 months after they married, the longing they carried with them into their “later years” can speak to to a modern-day woman’s late-in-life longing for a child—and, as Jackson proved in her statement about her pregnancy—the blessing of that child. There may be other things about Janet Jackson’s pregnancy and choices that we disagree on, but on this, we can all agree.

Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira

Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of five books and is a columnist for Her.meneutics and ThinkChristian. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, three kids, and one red-nose pit bull. Visit her at carynrivadeneira.com.

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