As TV presenter Harry Gration and his wife Helen announce they are to become parents again 17 years after their twins were born, MAXINE GORDON finds out what motherhood is like when your babies are born a generation apart

VETERAN TV news presenter Harry Gration and his wife Helen are expecting again – 17 years after the birth of their twins Harvey and Harrison.

The York-based couple say their child is due in October – but what will parenthood be like a second time around after all these years?

One person who can answer that is Lesley Anne Kinney.

Lesley has two sons – born 21 years apart.

Her first child, Mark, was born in 1976; her second, Thomas, was born in 1998.

Lesley, who lives in Beverley and runs her own business, Bespoke Decorative Finishes, said: "Having a child at 21 is a lot easier - but having my second child was joyous and absolutely fabulous. I thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

"We live longer now and are younger for longer. When I think of my grandma at 64, I think of her as an old woman."

In contrast, Lesley is 64 now and fit and able. "I'm up and down scaffolding" she says, referring to her job as a decorator.

Reflecting on the generation gap between her two children she says she brought both of her children up differently – and says it is hard to give each child the same upbringing because they are being raised at different times.

She has this advice for Helen Gration who is 51. "She will find that things have changed so much in the 17 years since she had her twins. You can try to bring up your baby the same way you brought up the first, but it is difficult to do it the same way."

That was certainly Lesley's experience.

When her first son was born in the mid-70s, Lesley was just 21. Unlike now, women were having their children at an earlier age and few went back to work.

"I had lots of friends my age with babies and had lots of support. I'd drop off Mark at my mum's on a Saturday evening and go out with my husband Robin and we'd go and pick him up on the Sunday after a lie-in."

Working life was different too. "I stopped work a few weeks before Mark was due. It was really common not to go back to work until your child was three or four. Most women had a few years off at home."

Lesley divorced Robin when Mark was three and brought him up as a single parent.

In 1995, when Mark was almost 20, she was working in a bar in Surrey when she met Scott, an American. They moved to America and got married in 1997 – Scott was four years younger and was keen to have a baby. Thomas was born a year later, when Lesley was 43 – and his brother Mark was 21.

The experience was different the second time around. "Medically, it was very different. Because of my age I was considered high-risk and had various procedures done, including an amniocentesis for Down's Syndrome – not that it would have mattered as we wanted the baby what ever."

At the time, Lesley said she didn't consider the impact on Thomas of being an older mum.

"When I was pregnant, I never gave it a thought. I was very excited to find out I was pregnant. It was only as Thomas got older that I began to think about how much older I was going to be.

"I remember my first son coming to visit us and he and Thomas were out walking together and somebody remarked on Mark being Thomas's dad. Thomas was not happy about that – he was quite offended by that.

"And we had the odd time when kids asked if I was his grandma and I'd see their poor parents say: 'of course not, it's his mum' – but I just found that funny. But I was old enough to be his grandma."

Looking back, Lesley says each of her son's upbringings was different.

"Having a baby at 21 is a lot easier. Possibly because you are more involved with yourself and don't project a lot of worry on to your child. I was getting on with my life and he had to fit in.

"By the time I had Thomas, everything was much more child-centred. I think that is for the worse. I think we put too much on our children and expect too much."

Lesley found she was much more relaxed about discipline and routine second time around.

"Disciplining your child is hard work and as I got older it was easier just to give in."

So what pearls of wisdom does she have for the Grations?

"Motherhood is more tiring as you get older. Look after yourself – and get as much help as possible."