Meet Later Mom Janet Neal (Interview by Robin Gorman Newman)


AGE:  62
RELATIONSHIP STATUS:  Divorced
RESIDENCE:  Little Falls, NJ
CHILDREN’S NAMES/AGES:
Timothy – 27
Christopher – 24
Emily – 22

A “reformed Superwoman”, I am now a woman who has learned that the power is in BEING first and then doing – not the emphasis on the doing that the role of Superwoman encouraged. My mission is now to help other women understand how innately powerful they are, to get them to tap into that power, and to put that positive energy into the world for the benefit of all. I do that through coaching, training, speaking engagements, my webshow (on YouTube – Superbwoman Sundays at 7) and through my latest book, The Superbwoman: It’s All About the BE. You can learn more at www.thesuperbwoman.com

 

What was your road to parenthood like?  I was told at 16 years old that I may never be able to have children, something that was really important to me. So, I went on that assumption until I got married at age 33 and wanted to try. The “natural way” wasn’t so natural, so I used Clomid, resulting in a pregnancy after one use. Two years later we decided to try again and after a year of trying, I got the script…and found out I was pregnant before taking it. Two years after that we tried again for a year and then gave up – at which time I found out I was pregnant with baby #3 at age 40.

How does being a mom influence your work? I realized after my 1st child that my children were my #1 priority and that I had to find a way to make it all balance. Being a working mother led me to starting IBM NJ’s 1st work/life balance initiative in the early 1990s, which then led to my branching out as an entrepreneur to help others find balance in their lives.

How did you balance parenting, a personal life and professional pursuits when your children were young? I learned to do it successfully when I realized what was really important to me and my family, what was more the “shoulds” I was subscribing to, and what I could release. When I learned to say no and let go of any guilt about it, it made all the difference. That and a really good babysitter!!

What do your kids think of your work now, and when they were growing up?  My kids are very proud of me and what I do. They know they are most important to me, but they also know how important my work is and, to my knowledge, never felt neglected or resentful.

Do you think it’s different in any way these days for women becoming moms later in life, versus when you did it? There is more technology and gadgets available now to help you out, but the bottom line still remains learning to get the support you need and letting go of the guilt.

Has anything about being a mom surprised you?   If so, what?   What do you love the most about it, and what is the most challenging? I think what surprised me the most was how deeply it affects me. I always wanted to be a mom because that is what you did. I didn’t realize how tightly it is tied to who I am. I love seeing my kids develop into their own unique selves, to step out into the world as young adults and create their own path. The most challenging thing is when they are hurting and there is nothing you can do to make it better: no kissing the boo-boos, no telling them it will go away, no saying there is no such thing as monsters. It’s being able to hold them energetically, be there for them emotionally, and letting them learn their lessons in their own way – NOT easy!!

When your kids were little, what did you most want to teach them?   What have you learned from them thus far? As a former elementary school teacher, I wanted to teach them EVERYTHING! But most of all I wanted to teach them to be kind, loving people. I think I did that. They, in turn, have been my greatest teachers, by being a mirror to me. My eldest son used to throw multi-hour tantrums, totally engulfed in frustration. After some very frustrating times – a lot of therapy – I realized that he was really mirroring what I was feeling inside. Once I learned to tap into that and find a way to release my own anger and frustration, his tantrums subsided. Each of the kids has been able to show me in some way what I am doing and how I can be better.

Any particular memories from your own childhood that inspire you to make memories with your kids? I am so grateful to still have my mother around. In fact, we talked for an hour and a half yesterday! I can’t remember anything that we did together when I was growing up, but I always knew she was there to talk to. That is what I have with my daughter in addition to doing more travel adventures together. When I divorced she was 12, and being my youngest, had the most time alone with just me. We have become very close through it all and know that will continue for the foreseeable future.

What words of wisdom would you like to share for someone contemplating motherhood over age 35? If it is something that you feel in your soul is right, go for it. Don’t ever do it because you feel pressured into it, that it is what you “should” do or because it sounds like fun. It is not easy – nothing of real value every is completely easy. Be honest about your resources and support structure. I had no family around me and gratefully had a husband who was around when the kids were little. Raising teenagers on my own was not easy, but for me it was more manageable than the physical exhaustion of the little ones!!

I cannot imagine my life without my kids. They make me who I am today.

 

Post a Comment