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The Seedling Has Sprouted!

June 7, 2012

Recently, NURTURE returned from the Houston JCC, where it was, in their words, a “success.” A simple shout-out from there to institutions throughout North America has guaranteed us another year of travel – first to Hartford this summer – the Hartford Public Library – before moving on to the Providence Alliance JCC this winter. Spring will find us at the Miles Nadal JCC in Toronto, Canada (YEA!) and on, again, to the Osher Marin JCC, San Raphael, CA, for the summer of 2013.

My dream of (our) being seen is now being fulfilled! The interest in our work and our show continues to increase as we find and pick up more new midlife mothers from across the country.

When I started this project nearly five years ago, I was a frightened new (older) mom, with a vision – to show the world who we were; why we made the choices we did; how we did it; and how we felt about our (often trail-blazing) new lives. However, I was lonely, alone and, well… distressed. As many other new older mothers can attest to, my simple (well, not so simple, after all) hope of achieving motherhood came with many other unanticipated issues and problems. As midlife mothers, we face a host of external circumstances truly indigenous to our group – impending peri- and/or menopause, aging parents, blending stepfamilies, two generations of children, etc. We are not called the “Sandwich Generation” because we love hoagies…We are called this because we live with (sometimes insurmountable) pressures day in and day out. The added external factors only make our original choice – to be mothers – more problematic as time moves on, more fraught with perils we could not have dreamt of. We only wanted to love and be loved, right?

When I first started my midlife mother project (then called “New Mothers in a New Millennium”) as a woman in her mid-40s, I seemed to mirror so many other 40 year olds I interviewed. Most of us (defiantly) defied our age with our often younger looks, great health and good jobs. We would laugh as we shared stories about younger mothers whom we thought lived with (seemingly) trivial and insignificant challenges. Their “trying to be-all-that” was to us, “Been there and done that.” Now, as a nearly mid-50 year old, I’m re-reminded of the women I originally interviewed who, in their 50s, seemed to struggle far greater than I. (At the time, I did not understand their angst and thought I would never be in their situation.) Of the 60+ year olds I spoke with, many of whom had preteens and/or teenagers, the responses were downright deprecating, if not nearly maniacal. Grappling with the conflagration of dying (or dead) parents, menopause, teenagers, a changing society, illness of self/spouse and/or the challenges of aging seemed insurmountable to many of them. Again, I did not quite understand this. I was, after-all, a new mother with my whole (exciting mothering) life ahead of me – or so I thought.

Today, I’m much more sober about it all. The zeitgeist of new older mothering /midlife mothers is, indeed, about the intersection of: new breakthroughs in medical technology, greater socio-economic freedom, a redefinition of middle age and women, and the willingness to push past traditional societal norms. It is also about struggling in ways that our forbearers did not; it is about grappling with new truths for which there aren’t simple remedies or easy relief. More importantly, it is about traveling a new path without a blueprint. Many of us are alone in our struggles; many of our fellow mothers are ignorant of this fact or, even more possibly, secretly pleased with our admission of the struggle. “What were you thinking?” they often ask us in disbelief. Our answer? We only wanted to be mothers. And in this new time and place, it was made possible.

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