We are happy to welcome to our website today, Cyma Shapiro, and her book, The Zen of Midlife Mothering: Essays from MotheringintheMiddle.com. It is the first anthology written by and for midlife mothers! The Zen celebrates the heartbreak and the glory of women choosing motherhood over 40 for the first, repeat, or last time, and of those standing firmly in place as mothers now in mid-life.
In this increasingly popular trend of new older parenting, these women do not share a collective consciousness like many of their younger counterparts, but rather a rainbow of disparate and diverse voices representing a vast array of ages, life circumstances and personal perspectives. This book features the depth, breadth and beauty of 50 well-known and established midlife mother-writers, up-and-coming writers, and those just finding their voice. A handful of fathers are included as a nod to this increasingly popular trend of “Mr. Moms,” and those choosing fatherhood at an age previously enjoyed during retirement.
Show lessA Huffington Post contributor, writer, and speaker whose work has been featured on NPR and on Psychology Today (online), Cyma is passionate about supporting women who choose later motherhood, and giving them a face, voice, and forum.
She is the mother of 9 and 11-year-old children and 28 and 30-year-old stepchildren. The Zen of Midlife Mothering is her first book.
Now lets get to some questions, Cyma, about midlife mothering.
HMC: Why do you think midlife mothering/parenting over 40 is becoming increasingly popular?
Cyma: I think this is a complex situation: daughters of the women who participated in the women’s liberation movement of the 70s (that is, focus on equal pay for equal work) have clearly gotten the passed-down message to focus on oneself and not settle for just anyone/anything. These women have reorganized their lives and priorities to reflect this, opting for careers, first, before family.
HMC: What factors have contributed to this?
Cyma: I think it’s a Zeitgeist of the times – the result of breakthroughs in medical technologies, allowing older (and older) women to take advantage of IVF, etc.; greater socio-economic freedoms for women; and a relaxation of the family model/structure, as we’ve known it.
HMC: How do you hope your midlife mother-work, including the publication of this book, will impact society?
Cyma: It is my fervent hope that we can dispel myths about this bourgeoning group, provide role models for younger women (to make fulfilling life choices, irrelevant of age); redefine women in middle age and provide a voice, face and forum for this group.
HMC: What makes you so passionate about midlife mothering?
Cyma: My life choice to become a mother, again, at age 46 was…my choice! However, the (often negative) reactions to it just surprised and saddened me. I decided that I would explore this group more fully and expose it to the world in an attempt to educate those naysayers who thought this phenomenon was just a passing fancy.
HMC: What one or two messages can the reader take away after reading this book?
Cyma: That midlife mothers are just that – women in midlife who choose to be mothers; that mothers (and fathers) come in all shapes, sizes, ages, etc. (And, here’s a third one!) That in the end, the desire to nurture, have a family, and love most often prevails.
HMC: If someone over 40 wants to start a family, how can you help?
Cyma: There are so many websites designed for this; so many ways to achieve this. There are newly–formed support groups, therapists specializing in this topic, etc. And, in all cases, so much information is now available everywhere. To women over (or just-under) 40, I ask that they try to have an open mind about it all. If they cannot conceive on their own, there are so many other ways to now become a mother, and to love.
In the end, the perseverance, conviction, willpower, guidance, determination and a breaking down of all obstacles – financial, spiritual, emotional, physical and psychological – just to become mothers, prevails – all in the name of motherhood, family and love.
HMC: Thank you, Cyma for sharing your story and those of other midlife mothers. And our particular thanks for including one of our essays – Your Parents’ Tarnished Golden Years – in your anthology. Now, readers, it’s your chance to chat with Cyma. Use the Leave a Reply section below for your comments or questions.