Lenore SkenazyProfession: Susan specializes in writing about motherhood for her humor columns and has two books: Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (and other lies I tell my children) and I Wear the Maternity Pants in This Family
Web Site(s): Susan Konig Homepage
Marital Status: Married
Spouse's Name: Joe Kolman
Residence: New York City, NY
Morry, age 13; Izzy, age 12; Nick, age 9; Matthew, age 3
Q: Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? What factors precipitated this decision (or dictated it)?
A: My philosophy is that you never know what life is going to hand you. I always thought I would be a mom but never imagined having four kids which, by many modern standards, is a lot. I say that because, any time I describe my family as being large at an event or an online chat, I am always inundated with emails and letters from people with REALLY big families.When I got married I was ready to have kids within the first year or so. My husband wanted to make sure we were ready financially, but really are you ever? When I had prenatal testing, I was positive for carrying the gene for Tay-Sachs disease. I was surprised because I was of Irish descent. I was told my chances of having that gene were slim while, for my husband, whose dad was born in Eastern Europe, the chances were high. So we had to wait about a week while he was tested to find out if we could even have kids without risking one of them having this fatal disease.
We sat down and decided we would pursue adoption if we couldnít have our own.
My husband came up negative, and off we were to the races.
In our second year of marriage, we found out we were expecting our daughter. She was perfect, so we could have stopped there, but over the next five years, her two younger brothers arrived. I was one of those moms with three under five. People would look in my minivan (we had to abandon the city for the suburbs when #3 was due) and say, ďHow many car seats are in there?Ē
So, I was done with that portion by age 37. Around the time I was 40, I was wishing we could have just one more baby. But unlike the first three which involved my husband merely winking at me, I just wasnít getting pregnant.
Then comes the part where you stop paying attention and feel that you know it is NEVER going to happen. I was two weeks short of 43 when #4 arrived, our third boy. There wasnít a lot of planning. Just a lot of love and a willingness to redo the math on retiring (never), college expenses (oy!), and hand-me-downs (our little guy rarely sees anything new).
We had just put our third child on the bus to full day kindergarten when my morning sickness began for my post-40 baby. I had been planning to go back to work full time, save the baby seals, lots of things. Instead, I wrote a book about the experience called I Wear the Maternity Pants in This Family.Q: What do you love about your career? What is most challenging about your work? How long are you doing it? What did you do previously? Where do you see yourself heading? What prompted you to write a book on motherhood, and the particular subject you chose? What is the primary message of the book(s)? Was it based on your upbringing or relationship with your own mother? What is your next book and when is it being published?
A: I can write any time anyplace. It is the perfect job for a mom. Most challenging is finding an uninterrupted moment to complete a thought.
I began as a journalist in 1984 and have been writing ever since. In between, I wrote bubble gum cards, shampoo bottles, and fiction for Barbie magazine.
When I found myself at home with babies and not much work prospects, I turned my attention to the subject at hand and wrote about my family with no idea where it would go. My columns were successful, and those grew into books.
My next book is called Teenagers and Toddlers are Trying to Kill Me. It doesnít have a pub date yet, but stay tuned!Q: What have you experienced through motherhood that has also helped you in your work or personal life?
A: Well, itís great book material. And because kids are such a gift, I try not to sweat the small stuff. Going to sleep at night knowing they are safe and happy and healthy is a blessing. Not that I never lose itÖI do at one point or another almost daily.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? How much time do you spend daily writing? 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: Well, after I lose it, I get the kids to their four separate schools, and then I collapse. Then I get back up and drink some more coffee. I do most of my work from home, and Iíve found that a few hours without kids at home is like a full day working in the office. My work hours are very productive if I focus. But If I get up to put in a load of wash or make a few calls or straighten the house, then Iím doomed. So I work and have a very messy house.
We donít travel too much but when we do, it is usually by car so we can be on our own schedule and not running through some airport or train station having a nervous break down because six people are about to miss a flight they canít afford.
I write in bits and pieces. I try to keep a notebook so I can at least jot a word or two down to remind me what I wanted to write. Otherwise the thought is lost forever.
I think a lot and tend to write it down very quickly. Itís the editing process that can be time consuming. Fortunately, my husband has an excellent eye and sense of humor and he helps me a lot with editing my work.
My kids like my work and enjoy reading about themselves, as long as I promise not to embarrass them.Q: How do you think being a later in life mom has affected your experiences as a parent (share both good and not so good)? Has anything about being a mom surprised you? Do you find being a mom in your 40s vs. an earlier age is a different experience in any way? What did you or do you most try to teach your children?
A: I sound like Iím crazed all the time, but frankly my mothering style is way more relaxed than it was when I was 32 and had one baby. I wouldnít let anyone touch her or kids at the playground play with her. If she fell down I ran to the emergency room.
With each kid, Iíve gotten less intense. Now I stroll to the emergency room.Q: Where do you or did you turn for support as a mom? Do you have a support network and community outside of work? Others in the publishing/journalism 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?
All moms are role models. Every single mom has something to offer another mom even if it is just competitively trying to express that Öno no I am the worst mother. A mother that can assure another mother that we all lose it, we all get overwhelmed, we all skip a bath or recycle a slightly dirty shirt when there are no clean clothes in the house.
I started on several social networks to keep an eye on my teenage daughter and her friends. Okay, to spy. But I found how many personal and professional connections you can make, especially when you are a busy mom and picking up the phone is not always an option.Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?
A: Follow your heart. Accept what comes your way. Be open to the different ways of being a family. Try serving cereal for dinner.
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