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Essence Atkins Thrilled to Be a Mother Later in Life

10/28/2011 at 09:00 AM ET
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Just call it a mother’s intuition.

Although Essence Atkins and husband Jaime Mendez didn’t have babies on the brain, it didn’t take much for the actress to realize their family was expanding.

“It’s funny, we weren’t trying. I just looked in the mirror one morning at my body and it looked different,” the Are We There Yet? star tells Essence.com.

“I stood in front of my husband and said, ‘Honey, I think I’m pregnant.'”

The couple will welcome their first child — whose sex is being kept a secret — on Christmas Day and although Atkins, 39, is embarking on the journey of motherhood later in life, the timing couldn’t be better.

“All of our friends are like, ‘You guys are just getting started while our [kids] are off to college,'” she says. “But it’s like, I’ve lived my life, I’ve taken trips to Paris for just 30 hours and came back, I’ve popped bottles, I’ve done it all.”

And with her carefree days behind her, the expectant mama — who skipped the morning sickness and reveals “everything has been extremely well” — is ready to concentrate her efforts on her child.

“Now I’m just ready and looking forward to being a mom,” Atkins shares.

– Anya Leon

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Showing 31 comments

TJ on

Congrats!

I was 39 when I had my son. We’re not 80 for Pete’s sake. Lots of women are having kids later now. We have more patience, more money and more resouces because we are older. I would not be the mom I am if I had my son was I was 25 and I’m a GREAT mom. My DH and I had 15 years of marriage before we had our son. We traveled, we had fun and we indulged in us. It was awesome. We were then ready to embrace parenthood. It’s been spectacular!

Tam on

I agree about waiting a while to have children. I’m 27 now and I’ve said to my husband that I would like to have our first child around the age of 30. To me, that sounds like a good age to start a family.

Personally, I’m focusing on my career and my husband is in graduate school. We both feel it’s important to get our careers started and build a strong marriage before the kids come along. We’ve been married for 18 months and I do have babies on the brain! I know in the long run it will be best for us to wait a couple more years.

I know 30 sounds young compared to TJ and Essence but it’s better than my other friends my age who have toddlers and still trying to finish school and get their careers started!

Abbie on

I personally don’t think there is a a right or wrong age to have children. It depends on you situation, your partner and if it happens it happens. I am happy for this couple and they they will have a beautiful child. Congrats!!!

Brittany on

I think there is no “right time” to have a child. We chose to have our kids in our 20’s and thats fine, just like it’s fine that some women choose to wait. Its personal preference really. Hopefully this article doesn’t turn into a fight about younger vs older.

I personally don’t care when someone chooses to have a child, as long as they are financially able to take care of said child. It’s no ones business. Sorry this turned into a rant, I get a lot of comments about being younger. I’m 25 and just had my 2nd child, I get a lot of “was he/she planned?” Yes, they sure were.

Holiday on

Brittany I was also a young mom 22 when I had my first and 26 when I had my second and I enjoy every second!

I think I am a better mom now than I would be at 40. I have tons of energy, very creative and just have so much to give to my children.

At 40 I would not want to be starting out on parenting and being 60 when they graduate high school. I never wanted to be the “old mom” that my kids were embarrassed about.

cct0303 on

I am 25 with a 5yr old and a 2nd one on the way. I have a masters in nursing and actually thinking about going for my ph.d. Having a child NEVER put a damper on my education nor it ever interfered with the relationship I have with my child.

I also have a very supportive husband and family that have always had my back. There has never been a doubt in my mind that my age will define what kind of mother I would be to my children..

I don’t think I’m a perfect human being, much less a perfect mom but I do think that I’m doing an amazing job at raising my daughter at 25 and thankfully she has everything she needs and LOTS of LOVE!!!

dsfg on

Holiday, there’s something wrong with a child if they’re embarrassed to have an older parent . . .

Melissa on

Congrats to Essence!

I personally think the old verse young parent debate is silly. Most women who have children in their 20s don’t know what kind of mom they would be like in their 40s. While a woman who has a baby in her 40s most likely would say they are better off now. I strongly believe children are a blessing no matter which age they come into your life.

Stacy on

I also don’t think there is a right or wrong age. I had my first at 23, my second at 30 and my third baby a month before my 39th birthday. I just turned 40 a couple of months ago and I have just as much energy with my third child as I did with my first one. I also have more patience and the “little” things don’t overstress me and I enjoy every single moment.

Having a teenage son, I know plenty of kids with “older” parents and not one single one of them is embarrassed by their parents, just a I’m sure in 17 more years, my daughter will not be embarrassed by her parents.

honney on

Congrats Essence and hubby!

Yes, the ‘later in life’ quote in the article acts like Essence is 80 years old; which is impossible; well with technology these days, who knows.

Anyway, a baby is a blessing!

mrscabrera on

I actually have a friend whose daughter is embarrased of her because she is a young mom. She had her when she was 15 so the daughter now who is turning 13 has a 28 year old mother who still looks very young and dresses like a younger person.

I don’t think it matters the age as long you can take care of the child, and just because you are young doesn’t mean you want to spend your energy always on your child or if you are old you want to totally neglect them. I have been around both kinds of parents in both age ranges. It just depends on the parents.

Mom Of Twins on

I was 38 yrs old when I had my twins, and turn 39 a month after I had them. Which was the perfect time in my life to do so.

K on

Congratulations to them! This is going to be a beautiful baby.

RKF on

Wow, Holiday, how insulting. I’m 34 and haven’t had children yet, but the way you speak, I’m a geriatric who will be too crippled to have children, in, gasp, my later 30’s.

If children are “embarrassed” to have older parents then that would be indicative of their parents’ projecting ageism on them. I certainly hope you don’t instill such outdated hogwash on your children.

Sam & Freya’s Mum on

Some things are beyond your control re starting a family. I didn’t meet hubby til I was 29.5 years & we didn’t want kids immediately!! Bought house together, enjoyed engagement, time on our own. I had son at 32 & daughter just on 36 (not too old by Hollywood mum standards I guess!), but ideally would’ve preferred to have been 29/30 with first & approx 32/33yrs with my 2nd/last child, however I had a high risk pregnancy/pre-eclampsia with son, who was born by emergency c-section almost 7 weeks early and only 3pds 9oz, so we waited til he was at least two to look at a 2nd child! Had a miscarriage in between my two kids also.

From age 25-27, nearly 28, I was living and working in London, & enjoying seeing the rest of Europe; a great life experience. Met hubby 18mths later. Having said that am glad I wasn’t starting my family nearer my late 30’s either, for me anyway, but who knows what a person’s personal situation is….

Sam & Freya’s Mum on

…also, good point Melissa: how do those who became mums in their 20’s know how it would be to be a later mum? May feel differently if they were an older parent and still have high energy level, patience etc, but they haven’t experienced that to judge…!

wpsegura on

My sister had her first and only child when she was 39. Was a great thing for her, and she never wanted to have another one, she hated being pregnant but loves the result, a beautiful daughter who is now 8.

Bree on

Congrats to Essence and her hubby.

My husband and I are both 24 and our first child is due in a month. We made the choice that now was the right time for us to have kids for multiple reasons, having kids now is what works for us as a couple and as a family, that does not mean it is going to work for everyone else.

I think that whatever age you decide to start your family as long as you love the child and want the child age really doesn’t matter.

Anonymous on

When I read “later in life” I expected this to be about a MUCH OLDER WOMAN. How the heck is 39 later in life?

Sarah S. on

Sorry, but I don’t being 39 “later in life”. That’s such a negative phrase. Later in life to me, means in you are in your Golden Years. Like in your 70’s-80’s.

Holiday on

39 is later in life to have a first baby! That is a fact. She is not saying she is an old lady but yes to be near 40 and have a first child is about 15 years past the average age.

Li on

I had my first at 25 (I now have 4 at 31), and I managed to travel extensively for years, lived in romantic cities around the world, and flew to Paris/London/NYC many times in those days. Youngsters can experience such things ;) and then go into parenthood having accomplished all of the fun stuff.

I much prefer being a young mom, so, to each their own.. although I don’t consider 39 to be “old” to become a mom, considering how many women wait until their 40’s these days.

Brittany on

I will also say that I probably would’ve been just as good, if not better of a mom if I started in my 30’s. To me later in life is 40’s, not because its “old” but because it may come with complications. We just decided that our 20’s were a good time to have our children, never once regretted my decision. Like I said in my original post, there is not a wrong or right time to have a baby in my opinion. I hate when women argue over which is better, all that matters is what is better for YOU!

MiB on

Remember, sometimes you just don’t have a choice.

One of my best friends got pregnant at 19, and since abortion wasn’t an option for her, she had no choice but to become a young, single mother (adoption isn’t an option where we live), my best friend in grade school was a “change” baby (her mother became unexpectedly pregnant with her at a time when she thought she couldn’t get pregnant anymore), my aunt tried to get pregnant for 15 years and had no choice but becoming an older mother when she finally manage to carry a child to term when she was 40. My stepmother didn’t meet my father until she was in her late 30’s, so if she wanted children she had no other choice than to be an older mother (and no, neither my brother no my cousin has ever been ashamed of their parents because of their age).

I have yet to hook up with a man who I would want to raise a child with, and I am not ready to choose to go through it alone (though if that’s what happens, I will embrace single motherhood), so I don’t have a choice to be a young mother. To those of you who are young mothers by choice, that’s great, because having children young was the best choice for you.

I worked as a nanny when I was 21, and knew that although I was quite mature and loved my job, I was just not ready to be a mother yet (though if I had become pregnant, I would have kept the baby and become the best mother I could be). As others have said, there is no universal right time to have children, there is only a right time for you!

annachestnut on

My mother was 41 and my father 49 when I was born. I was 37 when my father died and 45 when my mother died. I had my son when I was 35 and my daughter when I was 39.5. No medical intervention so I guess the time was right for their arrival!

Lady on

I <3 her story, congrats to them!

Reese on

MiB, I agree completely with your last sentence.

Holiday, I notice you almost always comment on these types of posts with defensive criticism and I never understand why. If you’re content with when you had children, that’s all that matters.

I know many other women who chose to start a family at a similar age and are happy, too. For others I know in their early 20s, parenting would be the last thing they could ever imagine or want to do. They prefer to focus on school, their careers, hobbies, etc. That’s fine too. They shouldn’t be forced to procreate when they don’t want to and aren’t ready just because select individuals think having a child past 28 is terribly late in life and “embarrassing”.

Bottom line, these celebrities are talking about the choices THEY made in their OWN lives. It has nothing to do with the public or the public’s approval. They’re not advocating nor forcing others to do the same, either, so there’s no reason to feel attacked for choices that are different.

Dee on

I had my first and only child at 32 (he is 15 months now) and it was the perfect time for me. I had dated and been in serious relationships and just never thought anyone was good enough at the time to share a child with.

Choosing a partner to have a child with is as important as deciding what age to try and conceive. The last thing you want is to be with someone, become pregnant and then realize it wont work. I know there are no guarantees in relationships but I think there is nothing wrong with waiting or not waiting.

I decided that in my 20’s while all my friends where having kids, I wanted to enjoy being able to do whatever I wanted and not be “tied down” and so I did. I got married and even then I knew I didn’t want to have a child with my husband.

We talked about it and everything but in the end, I realize he was not the person I wanted to share such an experience with. Sad but true. I rushed into marriage to my childhood sweetheart after getting out of a long relationship that was on and off for years. But realized that love as a teen is not always ready to take that next step.

I got a divorce and took some time for myself and then met a guy and instantly I knew he was the right person and he was. We have a healthy and happy child and I feel so much more able to give myself completely to him. I was way too selfish in my 20’s to have felt this way.

Congrats to Essence and her husband, i’m sure they will make wonderful parents :)

Holiday on

Dee its good that you waited so long because selfish people should not have babies. Good job on getting your partying, drinking and all about you time out of the way first.

Grace on

@Holiday: You sound bitter, defensive and jealous. It doesn’t sound to me like you’re as happy with your decision to become a young mom as you pretend.

Lindsey on

As MiB pointed out, sometimes life just works out the way it does. I am 31 and unmarried. I would love to have a child at this point and always thought I would but unwed single motherhood is not a choice I wish to make at this point. Essence married in her mid 30s.

Life is not perfect and not always how we plan…it is just life. Whenever children come is a blessing and there is no 1 right option. Realistically one cannot say that they prefer 1 or the other if they have not experience both options.

It’s not as if she is elderly and in the latter part of her life. Ultimately, it is each individual’s life and as long as the children are loved and cared for, who cares how old their mother is?

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