October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and what a perfect time to announce this latest venture. I had the honor of contributing and publishing an essay in a new book about women in their ’40s, and write here about the Mom-experience, highlighting some Mom-tastic excerpts from the book. Within 48 hours on Amazon, the book shot to the #1 spot in the Breast Cancer Category. Note – We’ll try to post a link to XM Radio’s “The Broads” national radio show from Thursday October 2 to hear the live interview with Amy & Cari, two essayists in the book.
Moms Dish in a New Book
Brutally Honest, Touching & Funny Essays about Women in Their 40s “Knowing Pains: Women on Love, Sex and Work in Our 40s”
Moms are the most fascinating group of multi-tasking mavens around. So, when I met fellow mom/editor, Molly Rosen (a friend of a friend of a friend, and fellow mom), who was compiling a book about women in their 40s, my only question was, “How soon do you need my essay?”
From tattoos to affairs, from motherhood to mayhem, from battling alcoholism and eating disorders to everything in between, “Knowing Pains: Women on Love, Sex and Work in Our 40s” includes 32 essays from women from 11 states.
The book’s sub-title, “Old Enough to Know Better, Young Enough to Do Something About It,” says it all, but I would like to focus specifically on the “mom” angle, the most delicious part of this “forties pie.”
For me, a mom of 3 boys and an avid Mommy Blogger, it wasn’t difficult to find something to write about. I quickly decided chronicle my foray into the world of social marketing in my essay, “Stumbling into Cyberspace.”
Excerpt from “Stumbling into Cyberspace” by Amy Kossoff Smith
My fingers raced across the keyboard, and my heart pounded as I heard the school bus wheels screech to a halt outside our house. Only a few more precious minutes to get that last e-mail out before the kids would bound through the door, kick off their shoes, throw their backpacks in the hall and demand a snack. It was time to shift gears from work to kids, knowing full well that while my second shift was just starting, the third one (post-bedtime work catch-up) still lay ahead. After years of balancing three kids with my home-based PR business, I had added a scrumptious new project to my already-full plate. I started a website and blog that combined my organizational skills, my writing and PR background, and my passion for motherhood.
As a working mom, I had constantly found my business world and personal world colliding. Over the years, I had naturally begun to use my work tools to organize our home life. Complicated carpools? No problem, a color-coded spreadsheet will do the trick. Painting estimates? Make sure you ask each person the same five questions – display the answers on a chart. Chores for the kids? Lay it out so all can see. Chart after chart, spreadsheet after spreadsheet, my business skills were guiding me through motherhood, providing me with much valued order in my home.
There were some bittersweet stories about motherhood, as well, including my dear friend and a role model of a mom, Lauren Bogart, who writes about being a mother to 3 – and widow – at 40.
Excerpt from What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been by Lauren Bogart
My kids kept me going. Even in the hardest times, I never pulled the covers over my head and refused to get out of bed. I couldn’t. I had three vulnerable children depending on me. I remember when a hospice worker came for a visit during Paul’s illness, I asked her how my children would fare when their father passed away. I’ll never forget her answer. “Children do as well as the surviving parent.” When I met with the rabbi of my temple to discuss Paul’s funeral, he reminded me, “Only one person’s life ended today. Not yours.” Those words stuck with me.
Some Moms had wake-up calls at 40, like Cari Shane Parven, a former television reporter and now writer/blogger. In “Finding Friendship at Forty,” she acknowledges, “I was in the throws of motherhood with a one-year-old and a newborn. Other than an elaborate dinner with my husband, celebration was out of the question. I was busy and not yet aware that besides lacking sleep, I was lacking friendship. After all, I had my husband.”
One mom talks about how motherhood through adoption revolutionized her life and gave her newfound perspective, like this excerpt from “Cell Blocked” by Thea Singer: “I have an eight-year-old daughter, whom we adopted at birth. True, throughout my ordeal, I remained adamantly pro-choice (for other people) and a staunch advocate of stem cell research (with other people’s embryos). But it took my flesh-and-blood girl – the person who plays air flute to my air violin at Starbucks – to provide the perspective to settle my soul. I look at those Polaroids now and marvel at the transformation of sperm and egg to embryo, but I barely claim the balls of cells as mine. They are the place where, for a matter of days, my husband’s and my genes met – no more, no less. Meanwhile, my baby is upstairs, waiting for me to cuddle with her in bed. And yet… While my when-life-begins conflict has ‘righted’ itself, my cognitive dissonance regarding abortion has taken on a new, horrid twist: What if the 20-year-old who gave birth to my girl had made a different choice?”
With women starting families later than the generation before them, infertility is certainly an issue facing 40-something moms. Lori Stott’s “Geriatric Mama” adds some humor to the situation: “While my infertility issues were not necessarily caused by my “advanced” age, it did not help matters much that I was fast-approaching my fourth decade on the planet. So my pregnancy was oh-so-scrupulously monitored. And I was given two labels: ‘geriatric’ and ‘high-risk.’ “
And the book ends with the most peaceful of notes. A Philadelphia-based Mom, Jennifer Lear, finds peace in “good enough.”
Excerpt from “Good Enough” by Jennifer Lear
I try not to pressure myself to squeeze as much as I can out of each moment of my day. I choose contentment over fear. I choose “good enough” over “never enough.” That’s my plan at least. And that, too, will have to be good enough.
One of the unexpected pleasures of my new mantra is the wealth of opportunities I have to practice it with my daughters. With my germ-phobic 13-year-old, things are clean enough: “that brownie was on the floor for 4 seconds . . . tops.” With my 11-year-old who began rejecting all meat products several years ago, I bury the chicken broth can in the recycling bin, saying: “Just eat it, it’s vegetarian enough.”
In honor of those affected by breast cancer, 100% of all book net proceeds will be donated to Breast Cancer Action to support breast cancer education and advocacy. Among the essayists featured in the book:
• 89% have been personally impacted by the breast cancer epidemic.
• 37% have had breast cancer, or a breast cancer scare.
• 56% have had a family member with the disease.
• More than 70% have had a friend or colleague afflicted with breast cancer.
About Breast Cancer Action
Breast Cancer Action is a national watchdog and advocacy organization that carries the voices of people affected by breast cancer to inspire and compel the changes necessary to end the breast cancer epidemic.
Editor’s Note: The copyrighted excerpts printed in this column are reprinted with permission of each author.