April 2011 Profile: Joy Rose
Age: 53 (A later mom with her 4th child)
Marital Status: Single
Residence: Hastings On Hudson, NY
Children: Brody 20 (M), Blaze 18 (M), Ali 17 (M), Zena 16 (F)
Profession: Joy Rose is the MediaMomTM and president of Mamapalooza Inc. – a Media and Events Company priding itself on; Women-Empowered, Mom-Branded, Entertainment, Education and Business. She is primarily concerned with amplifying the voices of women with a special emphasis on mothers and is the Susan B. Anthony award recipient for her work on behalf of women and girls from NOW-NYC (2009). She has been featured in the indie film Momz Hot Rocks, and is the founding executive director of the Museum Of Motherhood in addition to MuseumOfMotherhood (BLOG), www.Mamazina.com (Magazine). Joy is probably best known for coming up with the saying ‘Moms Rock’, which can be found on popular bumper stickers and tee shirts. Her weekly online TV show airs each Wed. on MingleMediaTV at 7PM (EST).
Q: You had your children when you were both under age 35 and over. Why did you decide to become a mom later in life? Tell us what your road to parenthood was like.
A: My first child was born when I was 32. My last, a daughter, when I was 37. I was passionately engaged in the music scene in New York City and married my husband just after filming a video for MTV. I felt the first rustlings of desire for motherhood sometime after my 30th birthday, and it was an intense stirring in my soul. Watching my body transform from dancer and performer through pregnancy was challenging. So much of my self-image was based on the way I looked, it was hard to watch my body distort itself and shift, although pregnancy agreed with me. So, much so that I repeated the experience every year and a half for five more years; 1994-1997. The births were easy. The babies were addicting. They were so beautiful. So extraordinary and I blossomed as a mother. I truly would have gone on having babies until I couldn’t any more (think Duggers) except I became ill during my last pregnancy.
Q: What do you most love about your work? What is most challenging about it? How long are you doing it? Where do you see yourself heading?
A: My entire life’s work unfolded as a result of becoming a mother. In the beginning, the transition from artist to mother meant giving up my sense of self for the the sake of my family. Now, I know that’s a mistake for any person. Loving, encouraging the developing the little lives put in our care is of the uptmost importance. At the same time I used to go around as a thirty-something mother muttering, ‘I am nothing, I have no needs’. At seven months into my pregnancy with my daughter, I started passing out from the growing pain in my body. Now, I know that experience informed my place in the work world today. I founded a band (back to my love of music) called ‘Housewives On Prozac’ in 1997, and the music explored experiences of domesticity, childbirth and a growing sense of dis-empowerment I experienced as a wife and mother. A line from one song called Fuzzy Slippers laments, “I wipe my babies chin with my college diploma and wonder how did I ever get here?” These songs and others explored themes of ‘mother sterotypes’; what the world seemed to expect from me and how I should conform to certain appearances as a doting wife and a responsible parent. We performed on stages as diverse as Good Morning America and Giants Stadium and spawned two Off-Off Broadway musicals, a film called ‘Momz Hot Rocks’ and a grass roots movement of ‘Mom Music’. My hobby morphed into business and a cause with the formation of Mamapalooza and national stages, created to amplify the voices of women and mom artists around the country and the world. Mamapalooza began in 2002 on a single stage in Manhattan and we now reach about 100,000 people a year at events around the country. Current work involves our non-profit partner, Motherhood Foundation Inc. and its work to establish the Museum Of Motherhood in a permanent physical location, to archive and study mothers and the evolution of family in perpetuity. Online exhibits, conferences and programming have been in development since 2003. We are close to achieving our dream of a home for M.O.M. and are in the midst of a capital campaign. Registering yourself, or the name of a mother you love online will help us achieve this goal.
Q: What have you experienced through motherhood that has helped in your work or personal life?
A: Being a mother has helped shape me into the feminist, activist person I am now. When I began the road to motherhood, I was innocent, naive and somewhat predictable in the sense that I led a somewhat middle class, sheltered life and didn’t really question the journey before me. While I struggled with different points of view and perspectives of compassion and self-understanding, I hadn’t yet been pried open by the universe or walked through the fire that sharpens a personal mission of point of view. Motherhood made me multiplied and divided. It made me all I am today. I am connected to the world and others through a shared sense of struggle. Daily, I get to engage in dialogue about the joys, triumphs and difficulties of being a women, a mother and a human being.
Q: What is a typical day for you like? Do you do any work from home? If so, how do you find that? Have you worked more or less since you became a later mom?
A: I am on the road a lot. When I’m not, I work from a home office. I spend way too much time on the computer (like everyone) but the phone and computer are my home-office tools. My office is connected to the living room, so when kids are there we are essentially within ear-shot. I have always had an office, with a door that closes and I’ve always spent significant amounts of time there in creativity and work. Of course, they don’t cry when I get on the phone anymore, which is a relief!! I wake up between 4 and 7am and generally wind down around 9, incorporating snack times and meal times into the flow of my day. While I did have a store recently, (MommyGirlGoGo) in Dobbs Ferry, NY, I found it was too much to manage the music, the movement, the home and the shop. As the kids get older I have more time to work harder, yet I find myself clinging to the moments we have together. I’m an avid cook and love to cater to them when they’re in my home.
Q: How would you compare your experiences being both a younger and later mom? share both good & not so good)? Has anything about being a mom surprised you? What do you most want to teach your children? What influence, if any, has your own mother had in your life and in your parenting?
A: Everything about being a mother has surprised me. From the flood of love pouring from my heart to the children, to the life and death challenges I’ve faced. All the babies were delivered without drugs, with a midwife and were nursed. We were organic, health-oriented and family-focused. In 1997, ten days after the birth of my daughter, I was admitted to the emergency room with SLE (LUPUS) and hospitalized for a month. That was the beginning of saying goodbye to my ‘old life’ and opening to a new one. The ache in my bones was a warning that something was seriously wrong and the new debilitating diagnosis at thirty seven, made me an ‘older mother’ but someone who was much too young to be as sick as I was. I spent the next several years on chemotherapy to treat the LUPUS and in and out of hospitals. LUPUS is an autoimmue disease the can affect the organs. In my case I went into renal failure and needed a kidney transplant. My Jr. High School girlfriend, Pam Van Hoesen (also a mother of four) gave me her kidney and saved my life. The children spent their youngest years with a mother who was very sick. Our lives were controlled by whether I was in the hospital or not. Vacations were cancelled at the last minute. School plays and outings were missed and it was a hard time for all. In 2002, two years after the kidney transplant, I left my husband, who had stood by me through all the illnesses, but was someone whom I felt I couldn’t continue to live with. The stresses associated with being a ‘good wife’ and levels of household perfection didn’t fit into my value system after the illness. Everything broke apart so that it could be reformed. The reformation of our family, of my value system, and of the passion and dedication with which I go about living life and reframing motherhood with a more expansive, generous point of view, has all been directly informed and influenced by my experiences of motherhood. My mother was a 50’s housewife. I love my mother, but want to kill-off the patriarchal, restraining, limiting insanity associated with everything about that lifestyle which slowly squashes a person’s sense of creativity and individuality. Motherhood, illness and my life-experience has brought me to this point of view.
Q: Where do you turn for support as a mom? How important is to connect with mom peers? How do you think an organization like Motherhood Later…Than Sooner can be helpful to later moms?
A: Organizations like Motherhood Later, Mamapalooza, Moms Rising, Birth Stories On Demand, MamaBlogger365 and so many more are vital to our connection and well-being. When I began my journey to motherhood, there was no such thing as a ‘Mom Movement’. In 1997, Housewives On Prozac, was the first and only ‘Mom Band’. Mamapalooza in 2002 was a true pioneer in branding and connecting mothers within a social, cultural and political landscape. This has changed everything. While there is (and probably always will be) a core team of marketers and manufacturers who are interested in co-opting everything mother in order to sell more products and keep us chained to ‘the man’, I believe there is a true ‘Motherhood Movement’ underway and it’s empowering and inspiring. When my children were born in New York City – A great place for moms, by the way, we started a baby co-op, belonged to playgroups, took swimming lessons at the ywca and were generally socially engaged in marvelous ways. Still, I saw a need for expanding the definitions of what it meant to be a ‘good mom’. Good moms come in all shapes and sizes and ‘good moms’ can sometimes even do ‘bad things’. Humanizing the women at the center of this vital role and supporting them as individuals in the midst of an all important job, while honoring their individual voices is what it’s all about for me, and many of these great online organizations and meet ups do exactly that!
Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a mom later in life?
A: Join a support group, take care of your health and seek out a high-risk pregnancy specialist.
Q: When you became a mom, did your own mother or mother figure share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated? Or do you recall anything from your own upbringing that really stuck with you that you’d like to pass on to your children or other moms?
A: Quiet time. We always had an hour in the day, where we were encouraged to go to our rooms, no tv, no phone and embrace our creativity. We were often given an assignment to; draw a picture, write a story or just sit and relax. Hard to do today with cell phones and video babysitters, but still a nobel sentiment.