Meet Later Mom: Annabelle Gurwitch
I’m an actress, a mother, a wife and an author. My latest book is I SEE YOU MADE AN EFFORT: compliments, indignities and survival stories from the edge of 50. It’s recently out in paperback. www.annabellegurwitch.com
Is there one project in your career thus far that you are most proud of, and why? I had great time acting, in particular, I loved my job hosting on Dinner and a Movie on TBS, I got pregnant and was on that show until my son was two, it was great to have stability like that when my son was little. This latest book, I SEE YOU MADE AN EFFORT, is my most satisfying project to date, I have to say. Partly because I’ve gotten to travel all over the country and meet the women I wrote this book, women who had kids later and are now juggling motherhood, mid life careers and taking care of aging parents: sandwich generation issues.
Do you consider yourself a role model for women? I always say I don’t write self help books, I write “self hurt’ books. On any given day, If I’ve got on matching socks, have been able to find my keys so I get out of the house and find the brain power to write and not have a meltdown when my teenage son grunts at me, it’s a good day. I’m not sure if that makes me a role model to anyone, but I think many women can relate to that!
How does being a mom influence your work? I look at the world through the lens of motherhood. I recently wrote about the rising tensions in Western Europe for The Los Angeles Times, that was from the pov of being a mother. It’s very much a part of my life, so as a memoirist it’s reflected in my work.
What was your motivation to write your book? What do you hope readers will take away from it? One of the things I’ve learned from turning 50 is that I need my community, so I do hope that my book inspires women to get together with friends if they’ve lost track of them during the crazy years when your kids are younger. I also think that humor can be the greatest salve, it doesn’t give you a hangover like alcohol. So humor therapy- it’s very cost effective as well!
Do you think it’s tough for women to balance parenting, a personal life and professional pursuits? And, if so, how do you achieve balance? One of the great gifts of turning 50 has been to remind myself that it’s ok to not be perfect. I like to say: you can’t have it all, you can do it all, but not all of it very well. There is no perfect balance, it’s unrealistic.
What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over? Having children at a younger age might have spared me from saying when my son was seven: Mommy is too old to lift you up today for the two hundredth time. But waiting to have kids has meant that I know myself better, and it’s so much fun to get share that wisdom with my kid, not that listens to me, but maybe, just maybe, he’s hearing it and will remember something I’ve said when he’s thirty.
What does your son think of your work? Thankfully, my son doesn’t show any interest in my work. I think about what I write about him and try not to include details that would embarrass him, but he doesn’t read my work. When I was on Oprah’s show, he pointed out the mistakes I made in my presentation! So, I’m glad he isn’t reading me…. yet!
Has anything about being a mother surprised you? If so, what? What do you love the most about it, and what is the most challenging? One of the things I love most about motherhood now, since the fantastic cuddling, snuggling phase is over is taking my son to see theater, listening to music together and finding out we like many of the same things. I love driving in the car when we are both singing along to some obscure indie punk band’s one hit song. Usually he will tolerate my singing for a few minutes and then tell me to stop, but those few minutes are priceless.
It’s been really challenging for me to see him become his own person. I still want to baby him sometimes. I chased him around the house the other day trying to get him to let me pull out a chin hair and save it. That was not my finest moment in life or motherhood.
What do you most want to teach your son? What have you learned from him thus far? I try and instill a sense of community service in my son. I took him to New Orleans where we worked on rebuilding homes that had been damaged from hurricane Katrina. He was working so hard and I complemented him. He said, “Look at my six pack.” Yep, he was doing it for the six pack. Still. The work got done.
Here’s something that surprised me to learn from him. I asked my son to shoot a book video for me, before he hit RECORD, he turned to me and said, “Mom, you look just like grandma.” The thing is, it’s true. I hadn’t realized it. Don’t be surprised when it happens to you, it happens to us all.
What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older? There are several things you can never prepare enough for, and one of them is being a parent. So get as much sleep as you can now. Also, floss more. No one flosses their teeth enough. The last thing you need as a new parent is to also need a root canal.