Deb CaponeProfession: Award-winning children’s book author and President of As Simple As That®. Her picture books, Families Are Forever, Tooth Fairy Tales and Dumplings are Delicious, are sold on Amazon.com, along with Raising Bully-Proof Kids-Five Steps to Stop Bullying Today and Prevent it Tomorrow, a video program. An e-course for prospective adoptive parents, The Indispensible Adoption Guide-Secrets about Adoption You Need to Know Now, is available by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Web Site: SimpleAsThat.com, BullyFreeFuture.org
Marital Status: Single
Residence: Southampton, NY
Children: Noelle, 10
Q: Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? What factors precipitated this decision (or dictated it)?
A: I always knew I wanted to be a parent but was waiting of the right person and time. As my 40th birthday was looming, I knew that if I wanted to be a parent the ‘right time’ was ‘right then’. At this juncture, I wanted to build a family -- either biologically or though adoption. After some soul searching, it was clear that adoption was the right choice for me. Once that decision was made, I went directly to international adoption from China to build my family. My beautiful now ten year old daughter and I became a family in Changsha, Hunan Province, PRC in October 2000. It was unforgettable, and each day is a new adventure with new challenges and joys.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 feel very fortunate that I love what I do-it wasn’t always the case. About a year after my daughter and I became a family, I made a dramatic career choice, and started my own business-writing and publishing children’s book with an eye toward empowering kids and grownups to respect and celebrate all cultures, choices and ‘abilities’. The books-which won some nice awards-were the jumping off point for classroom-based interactive programs that fit into the area of “Character Development” and programs for parents and educators to empower them to put an end to the biases that can lead to bullying behavior. With bullying at epidemic levels, my programs are focused on kids K-6 and exposes them to all kinds of people, choices and traditions in an effort to have them understand that differences are just differences and not better or worse.Q: What have you experienced through motherhood that has also helped you in your work or personal life?
A: I know that I am a better parent now than I would have been at any other point in my life, primarily because I am able to see the bigger picture. I remember when my daughter was ‘slow’ to be toilet trained-according to the Pre-K teacher when she was just three. I didn’t worry about it-it was highly unlikely she was going to walk down the aisle in diapers-so she would use the toilet when she was good and ready! I am sure that if I was younger, I would have polled other mothers to see ‘what was wrong’ and perhaps forced her to do something before she was ready.
As a dyed-in-the-wool Type A personality-a nice way of saying I am a bit controlling-this is quite a switch.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: Like most working moms, my day starts early and gets increasingly hectic. I am a morning person-much to my daughter’s dismay-and I get up about 5:00AM. I have always gotten up early, but instead of enjoying a cup of coffee and reading the paper, I get up feed our four dogs and the turtle, make my daughter’s lunch and breakfast and then squeeze in some time to answer emails and try and get organized for the day. My “I am a night person” daughter grudgingly gets up at about 6:30AM and then we make the mad dash to school.
I alternate between time at the gym and walking the dogs on the beach-which is much more fun, but not as much exercise! Once I get to my desk-with my coffee-I will work straight through until my daughter comes home at 3:30.
Once my daughter gets home, it gets hard to work-she still likes to hang out with me and since that may change as she gets older, I try really hard to spend the time with her. Sometimes it is hard as I will be right in the middle of something important, but she soon reminds me that she is more important than any work.
Since she is a competitive swimmer, she has to be at the pool by 5:30 so we spend that time doing her homework, having a snack, and if we have time playing board games. She regularly beats me at Scrabble, and we have a new favorite-Banana-grams.
Once she is in the pool, I pull out my laptop and phone and continue to work until about 7:30.
I probably work more hours overall…they are just broken up differently. Having a home office is great, but it becomes very tempting to work constantly. I sometimes have to force myself to stop.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 child/children? What influence, if any, has your own mom had in your life and in your parenting?
A: One the big benefits of “mature motherhood” is that I more inclined to let my daughter explore the world around her with independence. I am able to let her work things out by herself her and make age-appropriate decisions. I gave up clothes shopping for her long ago and have learned to smile when she chooses metallic blue nail polish.
I work hard to teach Noelle to respect other people’s choices and to try and understand another’s point of view. When someone is doing something she doesn’t like, we have a conversation speculating about why someone makes a particular choice. We don’t excuse “bad” behavior, nor do we have to like everyone’s choice, but we do need to accept and understand their right to make personal decisions.
We are fortunate that we are a three-generation household and that my mother lives with us. The relationship between my daughter and Noelle is beautiful. They are friends and share their own games and stories. My mother is probably the most supportive person in my life and has long been my best friend. In large part, I parent as she did with effusive love and affection but also with clear boundaries and consequences to actions. The big difference between our parenting styles comes down to how we deal with conflict and disappointment. My mother always tried to protect my sister and me from disappointment and sometimes skirted around difficult issues. I try to teach my daughter that these things are part of life.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 Later…Than Sooner can be helpful to later moms?
A: I am fortunate to have several close mom friends with both young children and older teens. We swap stories and advice, and it is really great to have the perspective of someone dealing with similar day-to-day issues, and who has also survived their older children’s teenage years and lived to tell about it.
I think all moms are role models on some level, and we can learn much from one another. Organizations like Motherhood Later are also valuable resources. It is so important to know there are other moms having similar experiences who can help out with support or advice.Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?
A: My advice to anyone considering motherhood later in life is to “do it”. While you will never have a clean car and may become a Sherpa, you won’t regret it.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 you’d like to pass on to your children or other moms?
A: There are three things that resonate with me:
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