Darryle PollackProfession: Even with an empty nest, my children will always be my biggest priority; but I have to admit it's great having time for my other passions -- mosaics, writing, and cancer activism.
Web Site(s): DarrylePollack.com
Marital Status: Married (second time)
Residence: Carmel, CA
Children: Alli, 26; Daniel, 22
Q: Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? What factors precipitated this decision (or dictated it)?
A: I wasnít one of these women who always knew she wanted kids. I thought I was missing the maternity gene---I didnít know what to do with babies; and I didnít care. I was wrapped up in my career as a television reporter, and I was honest about this with the man I married.
In my early 30ís, a few years after our marriage, I started to hear the clock ticking---my husband was ten years older than me, and suddenly kids were up on the radar. For someone who hates making decisions, even on what to wear every day, this was a biggie. We actually took a class at UCLAódesigned to help couples make the decision on whether to have kids. It really helped us work through to the heart of the issue; and after 8 weeks I knew what was in my heart---a baby.Q: If you work, what do you love about it? What is most challenging about your work? How long are you doing it? Where do you see yourself heading?
A: I was an early pioneer as a woman in television news. Though I loved the work, I felt the demands of long hours and traveling wouldnít allow the freedom and flexibility for a family. I had mixed feelings about being on the air; so I switched to freelance writing before I got pregnant. If the internet had existed back then, I would definitely have been a blogger!
Even with more freedom, the balance between work and kids was always tricky. I swung between working full time, part-time, and not working at all. I juggled the way we all do; but truthfully, I never felt I quite achieved the right balance; maybe no one does.
After I got breast cancer 15 years ago, I discovered the only thing that helped me escape the stress---was art. I was never artistic but suddenly all this art emerged out of nowhere---my daughter who had seen my lack of artistic ability---claims chemotherapy altered my DNA. It became such a passion that I opened a studio and shifted over to making mosaics as my work.
This month Iím putting my art online, including Boobalas, a brand new collection that does just what it sounds like---using boobs as the focal point in ways that are both witty and inspiring. I see this opening up a whole new chapter for me, especially being able to attach my art to a cancer vaccine that saved my life---and make it available to all women.Q: What have you experienced through motherhood that has also helped you in your work or personal life?
A: Most of the important and indelible lessons of my life have come through being a mom--- so many that they apply to pretty much everything about me. The one lesson that immediately leaps into my mind is perfection.
Iím the kind of person that can be pretty hard on myself---I have high standards and expectations, most of all for myself. So probably the most useful thing Iíve learned as a mom that applies to my work is that I canít do it perfectly. Iíve learned to accept and let go of my need to have everything exactly right---both at home and at work.Q: What is a typical day for you like? If you work, do you do any work from home? If so, how do you find that? Have you worked more or less since you became a later mom? What do your children think of your work?
A: There were years when I worked fulltime outside the home; but most of the time I worked from home. Though this is what I wanted, working at home was actually more challenging. I know some moms who can pull this off and establish regular routines; turning off the work when they are with the kids. I did this to some extent, but I always felt the weight of the work on my desk.
Even more I felt the pull of the kids. When theyíre little they just donít get that Mommy isnít available when sheís working. I never lock doors in the house; but I remember one time we had a new babysitter and I had a deadline; I was so desperate that I locked the door to my office, trying to focus while my 3-year old son was camped outside the door crying.
In those years, I was divorced and working constantly, and traveling, and my kids hated it. The funny thing is that years later, I got cancer . (Thatís not the funny part; keep reading) I stopped working completely for a few years since I didnít want to miss a single minute of my kidsí lives. I got to pick them up at school every day and be at all their activities. So hereís the funny part---they told me they wished I was working. I was kind of hurt; I thought they didnít want me overly involved in their lives. But it turned out to be that the babysitters let them watch TV after school and I didnít.
When it comes to work, I think being an older mom is a big advantage. Age gives you perspective and wisdom. That applies to so many aspects of parenting and working. Youíve had a chance to build your career and experience that side of life. So if youíve chosen to focus on being a mom, you appreciate the gift of being with your kids.Q: 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 children? What influence, if any, has your own mom had in your life and in your parenting?
A:I could write a book about each of these questions. Iíll try to keep it short. For me, being a mom later in life for me has been all good. The only downside is wondering if Iíll live long enough to enjoy my grandchildren.
As for surprises, EVERYTHING about being a mom surprised me. From the first moment when I had no clue how intensely I would fall in love, to how fascinating it is to watch a child develop, and how much it reorders your life forever.
I like to think I model the type of person Iíd like my children to be, rather than trying to ďteachĒ them. ( Even though they both claim I lecture.) I do think teaching is by action not words. Now that my children are adults, I can really see the truth of this. If you live by the values that are important to you, your children will absorb them even if you never say a word.
My own mother is my role model of everything a mother should be. Tragically, she died of cancer when she was 41 and I was 18. Her life, and her death, have had enormous impact on my parenting. And the great sadness in my life is that she never got to see my children and they never got to know her.Q: Where do you or did you turn for support as a mom? How important do you think it is to connect with mom peers? Do you consider yourself a role model for other later moms or aspiring later moms? Do you think an organization like Motherhood LaterÖThan Sooner can be helpful to later moms?
A: When I got pregnant most of my friends had older kids. I turned to them for advice but I really craved peers. I think every new mom knows what I mean. So I looked for moms with babies anywhere I could find them, including walking up to strangers in the bank or a park; and joining a Mommy and Me class where I met one of my closest friends to this day. Having a circle of mom peers makes all the difference for me---not only when my children were little but even now. I think having other moms both as peers and as mentors adds enormous value. And I LOVE to be a role model or mentor to other moms.---online or in person.Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?
A: Obviously age is a factor in being able to conceive---but aside from the reproductive organs, the other part of your body that most matters is your heart. Trust your instincts; and if you think motherhood is what you want, do it. Nothing is more challenging; nothing is more rewarding.Q: When you became a mom, did your own mother or mother figure share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? Or do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you and youíd like to pass on to your children or other moms?
A: As I said I lost my mom, so I wasnít able to benefit from her wisdom and experience which would have made such a difference to me. Although her words werenít available to me when I became a mother, I apparently absorbed her values by osmosis. She lived her life in a way that clearly demonstrated what she considered most important----family and character----and I hope Iíve passed on similar values to my children.
As a survivor, possibly the most valuable lesson Iíve passed on to my children---again by actions, not words---is to be adaptable and resilient. They have witnessed and experienced many changes and crises in my life---and they have seen that resilience and resourcefulness have helped me survive. Fortunately they havenít faced any serious crises, but I already see those traits of resilience and resourcefulness in both of my kids. Not only does this give them the tools they will need to face lifeís challenges, but it also gives me the peace of mind that they will be able to handle whatever comes their way.
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