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liz

FEATURED MOM: Liz Gumbinner

AGE: 39

MARITAL STATUS: Living in sin

RESIDENCE: Brooklyn, NY

TITLE: Co/founder, Editor

COMPANY/BUSINESS: CoolMomPicks.com

WHO ARE YOU?
I’m a freelance writer and columnist, but online I’m best known as the voice of parenting blog Mom-101 [mom-101.blogspot.com] and the co-editor of the popular shopping and review blog for parents, CoolMomPicks.com

CHILDREN’S NAMES & AGES: Thalia 2.5, Sage 10 months

1. Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? What factors precipitated this decision (or dictated it)?

I was so career focused for so long that suddenly I hit my my mid-thirties and was like that woman in the Lichtenstein painting who smacks her forehead and says “Oh my God! I forgot to have children!” It just wasn’t a priority for me. In fact more than having children per se, what I really wanted was someone in my life whom I loved enough to want to have children with him. When Nate came along, I knew he was that guy. Although he still had to do a little work on me after a trip to Disney world that induced a total panic attack. I was looking around at all the screaming kids and their frazzled, sweaty moms and saying “I can’t do this! This isn’t me!”

On our second anniversary on a trip to Montreal, we started “trying” assuming it would take a good two years or so. My 36 year-old ovaries were far more compliant than they should have been however, and Thalia was conceived that very night. 22 months later, same deal with Sage. I’m fertile. Who knew.

2. What do you love about your career? What is most challenging about your career? What was your motivation to launch your website? Where do you see it going?

When I was a kid, my mother and her sister had a line of children’s clothes they created out of our attic. I was raised to appreciate handmade items, high-end crafts, smaller label brands. So when Kristen Chase, another momblogger that I knew, came to me with the idea for a site that helped promote the mom-made gifts and gear we were seeing around the web, right away the proverbial light bulb went off. I told her that I not only wanted to write for her, I wanted to be her partner. Insanely, she agreed. We hadn’t even met in person at that point.

Two years later, we’re tracking down all kinds of boutique labels, indie rock for kids, great websites for parents, organic items, artisan toys that have steered clear of the lead paint recalls. We’ve been featured in national magazines and newspapers, we’ve got our own series of on-demand tv episodes on the Alpha Mom network, and we were recently named in Real Simple’s best blogs feature. It’s all incredibly exciting, because we’re doing it while living our values and promoting companies we truly believe in.

As much as I also love my advertising career, running my own business is a kick, if exhausting. Sometimes I write reviews at midnight because it’s my first free moment.

Where do I see it going? Well, if anyone wants to make us a solid seven-figure offer…

3. What have you experienced through motherhood that has also helped you in your work or personal life?

I have learned patience. Inordinate amounts of patience. Which was never one of my strong suits in business.

lizgheadshot4. What is a typical day for you like, managing both work and home life? Do you work from home? If so, how do you find that?

My weeks are entirely erratic. Some days I work at an office, some days I’m working from home while the sitter or one of the grandparents takes the kids, some days Nate takes the kids. I have learned that I really can’t give my full attention to work while I’m with my girls – they’re still so young – and I certainly can’t give my full attention to my kids if I’ve got the laptop open. Not that Noggin doesn’t come in extremely handy at certain points in the day.

I have worked very hard to learn to delineate between family time and work time. Nate’s been great at helping me with it. It’s hard to be a workaholic for the first 36 years of your life, and suddenly have that all change.

Okay so I’m still a workaholic. But I’m mostly on the wagon.

5. 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?

*I like later in life mom! Much more delicate than “advanced maternal age.”)

Let’s face it, I’m tired. Maybe it’s just because my kids are terrible sleepers and I’m doing so much, but I often wonder if I had had kids in my twenties whether I’d have more energy. Then again, I would have been a crappy mom in my 20s. I was selfish, as it should be. Better then than now.

On the upside, I am blown away – absolutely blown away – with the overwhelming love I feel for my girls. It sounds so uncharacteristically sappy of me, but I’m sure it’s the reason I’m more patient with them, more forgiving of them, more level-headed in my dealings with them than with anyone else in my life.

Then again, they’re both under three. I understand that when they hit thirteen, all bets are off.

6. Where do you turn to for support as a mom? Who is your support network and community outside of work? Anything online?

I thought by the time I had kids that all my peers would have older kids and I’d feel a little left out. I had no idea that parenthood was this huge cult. Once you’ve got a kid, you can trade tips with the supermarket checkout clerk, the doorman in your office building, the grandmother in the park. I think in a way, the world is your support network, if you’ll allow it; it transcends age, geography, socioeconomics.

I am insanely lucky to have so many resources (you know, besides the supermarket clerk). There are fellow bloggers who became as close as any offline friends, like my partner Kristen and our associate editor Julie Marsh. I have friends since childhood, I have a few former co-workers turned friends – a good resource for finding kindred later in life moms – and I have a remarkably close family. My in-laws are supportive if far away, and my own parents are wildly committed grandparents. I do not lack for support. Not that I couldn’t still use a staff of ten and a full-time masseuse.

7. What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?

The greatest words of wisdom came from my own mother: Every decision you make as a mom is right. And every decision you make as a mom is wrong. I think that also applies to the question of when to have kids, how many to have, and under what circumstances. There’s no right answer, so don’t overthink it. Just follow your own heart. It rarely betrays you.

 

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