Candi CarterProfession: Founder & CEO, Hip Hop Baby LLC (Winner of iParenting Media Award)
Web Site(s): www.itshiphopbaby.com
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Joe Carter
Emerson, age 6; Lillian, 8 months
Q: Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? What factors precipitated this decision (or dictated it)?
A: I had my first child at 33 years old. I was young and excited to bring a new baby into the world. After a completely uneventful pregnancy, my son was born with several physical issues including open-heart surgery at 10 months old. We spent the next year in and out of children’s hospital. Only to realize after a year that all his issues were caused by a rare chromosome disorder (Chromosome Deletion 8p). As the years passed, we quickly realized how difficult the special needs journey would be for our family. At that point, we struggled with the decision to get pregnant again. After 5 years passed, I really wanted to have another child, but my husband was gun shy. In addition to that, I was 39 years old. I worried about not being able to get pregnant or having a high-risk pregnancy. After many tough conversations and fears bout bringing another child into the world at 40-- we decided to “just do it!”Q: What do you love about your career? What is most challenging about your work? How long are you doing it? Where do you see yourself heading? What prompted you to become an entrepreneur, and why the particular subject/product that you chose? Are you still working in television? If not, why the change?
I am an 18-year veteran in the television industry. After 14 years of working for an internationally syndicated talk show based in Chicago, I was inspired to create a video business for children. I developed a line of DVDs called, “It’s Hip Hop, Baby!” I took songs I’d created for my son, who has a severe speech delay, and used them to educate toddlers. We used song and movement in our home to help Emerson with transitions and help him learn faster and it worked. He responded immediately – as did other typical children who heard the songs. Thinking of creative ways to help my son is what inspired me to become an entrepreneur. I consider myself a unique entrepreneur because I run my children’s entertainment company while working fulltime as a television producer. It’s been enormously challenging and rewarding all at the same time.Q: What have you experienced through motherhood that has also helped you in your work or personal life?
A: Mothering a special needs child and living in that “new normal” has helped me in ways I am still realizing. I never dreamed I’d have a child with a mental disability and everything that goes along with that diagnosis. I reserve judgment for moms and families because you never know what’s really going on behind the scenes. I’ve developed a level of patience that I never had before. And I continue to be the queen of multitasking. Motherhood in my world is one large dry erase board. Our lives are spelled out on that board everyday—even a month in advance. Therapy…birthday parties…doctors appointments…shows tapings…etcQ: What is a typical day for you like, managing both work and home life? Do you do any work from home? If so, how do you find that? How much time do you spend daily writing or preparing for television appearances? Have you worked more or less since you became a mom? Do you travel a lot, and do you take your family? What does your child/children think of your work?
A: A typical day for me starts really early in the morning and typically ends around 10-11pm at night. My 8 month old is typically up between 4:45-5:00am. I take that time to get up and get things done. I run with her in the running stroller. Shower and work on Hip Hop Baby business while she’s plays in my arms or near by. My son usually rises and hour or so after Lily. His bus arrives at 7:30am so we get him ready. My producer job requires me to work weekends and late nights sometimes ‘til 2 or 3am…so we have an au pair to assist on busy work weeks.
My daughter goes to daycare [I love the interaction with lots of children at a young age verses being home alone with a caregiver during the day].
I cook (usually a crock pot dish) and then head off to my “day job” as a producer. When I get home…do kids play until bedtime- 8pm, and then I work on Hip Hop Baby…returning emails, shipping out packages, responding to emails etc. Some days are more hectic than others, but what I’ve found is using that morning and evening time allows me to do more before 9am than most people do all day JQ: How do you think being a later in life mom has affected your experiences as a parent (share both good & not so good)? Has anything about being a mom surprised you? What do you most try to teach your child? What influence has your own mom had in your life and in your parenting?
A: As an older mom, I’m definitely more laid back. I’m tired. I feel old! I have back pain for the first time in my life. I may have to start taking yoga to keep my lower back stretched out. I’m a lot more tired than I was at 33 but I’m also more appreciative of the “mom” experience. When I hold my infant, I truly understand what my life and my purpose for my children is all about. My son has a mental disability so we don’t have “conversations” per se. But my goal is to let my children know that mommy loves them. I want to raise healthy, well-adjusted loving children.Q: Where do you or did you turn for support as a mom? Your mom? Do you have a support network and community? Others in the entertainment field? How important do you think it is to connect with mom peers? Do you find social networking sites of value? Do you consider yourself a role model for other later moms or aspiring later moms?
A: I think mom support is critical. Especially for moms who have children with special needs. I remember one day I was power walking during my pregnancy and I just started crying. Really crying. And I decided in that moment that I would allow myself to cry…it didn’t matter who saw me. My life is sad sometimes…sometimes I’m fearful and sad for my son and his future. But I know I can sit in that pain and then be thankful for his beautiful smile, joyful personality and delightful disposition. I share those moments with my very close girlfriends. Some with typical kids and many who have children with special needs. Those moms get it! They understand the juggle with therapy and hectic jobs. They understand the list of specialists and doctor appointments and school IEP meetings. They understand the strain it can have on a marriage. We do drink nights…support meetings…I meet my girlfriends for coffee…running or just sitting at farmer’s market. My girlfriends are the fuel that keeps me going.Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?
A: I just told a few women I work with who are nearing 40 and worried about having children that they have NOTHING to worry about. I was really concerned about not being able to get pregnant and having a baby later in life but it all worked out. We got pregnant rather quickly…we were blessed to give birth to a healthy baby with no chromosome abnormalities. And I’m 40 and proud of it. So I say…go for it. Don’t worry. Be open to the possibilities. If I couldn’t conceive on my own child I was very open to adoption.Q: When you became a mom, did your own mother share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? Or do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you and you’d like to pass on to your child/children?
A: My mother used to always take us to important landmarks and tourists attractions. We went to the Salem Witch Museum and saw the Man in the Mountains in NH. We saw the Liberty Bell and went to the beaches in NH and skied every winter. I am thankful for that exposure and hope to give that to my children.
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