Mary CarlomagnoProfession: My company website is www.orderperiod.com, which specializes in clutter control, urban apartment solutions, office spaces and shopping addictions. I write, speak and consult on how to simplify life. My books are Give it Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less (HarperCollins) and Secrets of Simplicity (Chronicle Books).
Marital Status: Married
Residence: Hoboken, NJ
Children: Matthew, 17 months old; another on the way, due in August
Q: Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? What factors precipitated this decision (or dictated it)?
A: My decision to settle down with a family is a direct result of being a career driven person who put work above most everything else. I loved the single life and my independence and really enjoyed travel and taking care of myself. I had kids later as my life began to change and I left the corporate world to pursue more of my passions.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?
A: I have been a consultant and writer for seven years, following a long career as a book publishing executive. I love to speak to groups and really drill down on people's issues, so interesting. And unlike most people, I revel in spending an afternoon sorting and filing! My favorite project is closets, can't get enough. I am a recovering shopaholic which is why I started my company, Order, to begin with.
I also love finishing books, Just completed my third. I am heading for television. I want to have my own show!Q: What have you experienced through motherhood that has also helped you in your work or personal life?
A: Patience and acceptance, but most of all that you need to keep moving ahead and not belaboring what is past. Babies forget the little mistakes you make... so it becomes more important to adjust and do better as you go along. The babies are only babies for a brief time, so rushing through it, you can really short change yourself. But again, patience, patience, patience.Q: 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? Have you worked more or less since you became a mom? Do you travel a lot, and do you take your family? What do your children think of your work?
A: At first, I was reluctant to leave my first baby and did not have any help for about one year. My work did not thrive during this point. I was constantly trying to fit things in here and there, in the evening, during naps and honestly, was selling myself short. I got a part time baby sitter when I got over my nerves and adjustment, which has allowed me to carve out some solid time to write and pitch. This has helped tremendously. I did not think I needed help or time for myself, but that is essential for baby and mother. I have been working from home since my baby was born. In fact, I went on Oprah when Matt was three months old. One minute I was talking to Oprah, and the next minute I was pumping breast milk in the handicap stall at Chicago O’Hare! My husband and I switch off for travel and baby care. It is getting to be less travel as I get more and more pregnant, so I usually do speaking on nights and weekends in the NY metro area.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 has your own mom had in your life and in your parenting?
A: I think that waiting was good for my life experience, my career, my status, which are all good things to establish. On the down side, when you wait a long time, it is hard to break into a new habit and give up control. And babies are all about throwing you out of control. I think, being a mom early is probably easier, you can move faster and bend down! I am most surprised by the single-minded focus you need to have as a mom, which is kind of insane because as a wife, mother, worker, you play so many roles. To concentrate on any one thing is a challenge. My mom had a different lifestyle. She reveled in motherhood and motherhood only and was not an established career person. Today's mom has to do it all and when you do it later, you only increase your responsibilities, like your career, your family commitments and even parenting your own parents at times, especially if they are aging.
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 through an organization like Motherhood Later…Than Sooner? Do you consider yourself a role model for other later moms or aspiring later moms?
A: I had a lot of friends and family giving me support, which is good and bad, as sometimes there is a bias when it is someone you know. Groups like Motherhood Later are more objective and non-judgmental which I like. I do not at all consider myself a role model. I consider myself as someone who tries very hard every day to make sure my baby comes first. Some days it is harder than others!Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?
A: I think later motherhood is like an unexpected gift and one that you should do if you can. But, it is not for everyone. You need to have your eyes wide open that you are in for a change-- the rewards are great, but not without significant life change and sacrifice! Be forgiving with yourself, and take care of your needs as well.
Drinking lots of wine can help too...
The big thing for me was to make sure I carved out time for myself, sometimes the laundry can wait ‘til after you take a yoga class!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 child?
A: My mom had four kids practically in a row, so she thinks having one kid is a breeze. She always said, "pick him up, you have time, you only have one." It will be interesting to see what she offers when I have number two...
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