PROFESSION: Actor, singer, performer, best selling author
MARITAL STATUS: Married
SPOUSE’S NAME: Billy van Zandt
RESIDENCE(S): California and New Jersey
Cody Carpenter, 24
William and Walker van Zandt, 11
LATER MOM CREDITS:
Cody born: 1984 when I was 38 years old
William and Walker (identical twins) born in 1997 when I was 51 years old.
Q: Why did you decide to become a mom later in life?
A: I was 46 when I married my husband. It was a second marriage for me but his first. He is 12 years younger than I am and had never had children. I had my first son, Cody, when I was 38. I loved being pregnant, I loved giving birth, and I loved having a son. We both wanted children so we started trying as soon as we were married.
Q: What motivated you to become a mom again at age 51? And, how did it feel to you vs. being 39 when you first became a mom? Did you have different concerns or challenges?
A: I think the challenges stemmed from having twins much more so than being older. Both my pregnancies were great; I felt great; I carried to term; I delivered naturally without any drugs. I wasn’t able to nurse as long with the twins but that had more to do with the fact that there were two of them than it did with my age. We made it to six months and then they just decided the bottle was more fun!
Q: What have you experienced through motherhood that has also helped you in your work or personal life?
A: My children bring a joy to my life – on a moment to moment basis – that lightens any other stresses, be they personal or professional. I think they keep my spirit young.
Q: How do you think being a later in life mom has affected your experiences as a parent (share both good & not so good)?
A: I think I had more patience raising Cody than I might have had, had I been younger when he was born. And I was so ready to bring him into my life that curtailing my career so I could be with him never once felt like a sacrifice. Sometimes I have less patience with William and Walker but I’ll never know whether that has to do with being older or with the fact that there are two of them and they’re a challenge. They’re more independent and capable of taking care of themselves than Cody was at their age and maybe that’s because I encourage that behavior in them so I can get a break!
Q: Has anything about being a mom surprised you?
A: Occasionally I’ll be talking to a mom I’ve become close to because our kids are in school together and I realize I’m 15 years older than she is. That’s a surprise. I sure don’t feel it.
Q: What did you (or do you) most try to teach your children?
A: I try to teach them to be respectful of other people, to try to understand why someone acts the way he does rather than be judgmental, and to communicate non-violently. Communication is important to me. I’d like them to learn to talk about what they’re feeling. The words they use are important to me, too. We don’t say “shut-up;” we don’t call names; I try to get them to lose “you know” and “like” in a sentence: “well, like, you know, like she went to the store and like, bought a bunch of stuff, you know;” and the past tense of to see is “saw” and not “seen.” I think words are much more powerful than we’re aware of and I want them to honor the language and be aware of the effect their words have on other people.
Q: Where do you (or did you) turn for support as a mom?
A: My sister, who raised two remarkable daughters both close to Cody’s age, and my close friends, one of whom I’ve known since Jr. High and one who I met on the first day of Cody’s pre-school, formed my “Mom” support group, along with moms I’ve met through William and Walker’s classes.
Q: Do you have a support network and community outside of work?
A: I have close friends in various careers, including full time parenthood, and, for me, at least, their friendships are vitally important.
Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?
A: Sleep now.
Q: What are your future career aspirations/plans?
A: I’m currently writing my third book and preparing to film another theatrical feature. I don’t think I’ve ever planned a day of my career and I don’t feel as though I’ve ever worked a day in my life. I’m so grateful and so fortunate to have been able to earn my living doing something I love for all these years. I just stay open to anything the future has to offer and when something interesting comes along that I can do and still be a mom, I say yes. I love almost everything about my career – even the instability of it. I think I’d go nuts knowing what I was going to be doing every day for the next years of my life. There’s only one aspect of my acting career I don’t take great pleasure in and that’s auditioning and putting on make-up. But everything else, I absolutely love.
Adrienne Barbeau has performed in over 25 musicals and plays. She debuted on Broadway as Tevye’s second daughter, Hodel, in Fiddler on the Roof. She was nominated for a Tony award for her creation of Rizzo in the original Broadway production of Grease. She played Bea Arthur’s daughter, Carol, in the hit 1970’s television sitcom Maude. Adrienne Barbeau is now a recording artist, star of feature films, films for television, and a best selling author. Her mystery novel Vampyres of Hollywood will be released in August of this year and she is already at work on the sequel.