Meet Later Mom: Karen Amster-Young
NAME: Karen Amster-Young
RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married
CHILD’S NAME/AGE: Alison Young, 12+ – almost 13!
Currently, I am a co-author of a newly released book, The 52 Weeks. The book is intended to inspire and motivate others to move forward in their lives and try new things, take time for themselves and step out of their comfort zones.
What led you to write your book, and what is the message you want readers to take away from it? It is a non-fiction book inspired by a personal quest to do something new, different or something I was afraid to do every week for a year and write about it. The idea came one night when I was out with my friend and co-author, Pam Godwin, and we vowed to “get going again.” We started blogging about our weekly excursions and challenges, and along the way found that many women felt similar to us and wanted to change their lives and take time for themselves again. We interviewed experts to offer the best possible advice and inspiration to our readers. In the end, the book was both a memoir and how-to guide for women including tips from CEOs, doctors, artists and even a comedian and a poker diva! The52weeks.com, our website, features our story and information about our book. I hope to continue to help women in 2014 as they work to get out of “stuck.”
What does your daughter think of your work? My daughter has seen The 52 Weeks from the beginning – when it was just an idea and I was constantly on the phone with Pam, planning our “outings” and efforts — to today, with copies of my book scattered around my home in piles and in envelopes ready to mail. She is excited and proud to see me out there, passionate about an idea and my book, doing book signings and media appearances.
What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over? I was about 35 when I got pregnant. I suppose now, at 48, that seems young! However, I have since learned that being over 35 is considered “later” for motherhood; I didn’t realize it at the time. I am so glad I didn’t have a child in my 20’s. As they often say, I was wiser, more settled and less restless when I had her. My midlife restlessness – a part of the inspiration for The 52 Weeks — would have probably emerged with or without motherhood!
Some of the challenges include hitting midlife just as my daughter is approaching puberty! I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but it can certainly be challenging in our household!
Has anything about being a mother surprised you? What do you love most about it? Now approaching her 13th year, I suppose looking back, there were challenges and surprises all the time – sometimes even daily! I am not sure how to answer the question about what I love most about it, as I think as many would say, there are no words to describe the unconditional love you feel as a mother and also the absolute blunt truth that you can lose your mind navigating it all, perpetually crave some alone time and never (really) sleep for the rest of your life!
Do you consider yourself a role model for your daughter, and what do you most want to teach her? What have you learned from her thus far? As moms, we try each and every day to be a good role model for our children, but it is certainly challenging at times as we individually, as adults, continue to work on ourselves. The best you can do is simply try your best and, if you fall or fail, get back up and try again as they say – even when it comes to being a role model! My book has many lessons about this from experts, but adults forget to play and forget to laugh all too often,as we get bogged down in day-to-day responsibilities. I want her to always remember to laugh and take time to play. A key message in The 52 Weeks is to take time to wander, wonder and laugh. My daughter reminds me of this daily; even though she is almost a teenager, she still looks at things with awe, and I hope she always will.
What influence, if any, has your own mother or father had in your life and in your parenting? I lost my father over a decade ago – way too early- – but as parents, they showed me two people who took time to be with friends, travel and be together and talk. They showed me the importance of family rituals and traditions – something many of us forget in this fast-paced world. Looking back, I appreciate their good qualities even more now, in my late 40’s. My dad took things as they came and didn’t get worked up about day-to-day stuff; something I am still trying to teach myself. My mom was patient, always there, and thankfully still is. Today, we are pulled in too many directions, and sometimes I envy the more clear-cut roles and happiness of previous generations of moms. There weren’t as many choices perhaps, but they may have been “happier” not having so many choices! Who knows!?
Where do you turn for support as a mom? How important is to connect with mom peers? I turn to friends, of course, particularly with kids the same age. My sister has a daughter the same age so that has been convenient, fun and sometimes annoying! It’s very important to connect with mom peers, but I also think it is critical to have many friends outside that realm.
What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older? There is no “right” age to have a child. You have to do what is right for you and feels right. In fact, many moms at 40 are less prepared than those at 25 – and vice versa. Age is just a number!
Any words of wisdom from your own upbringing that you’d like to pass on to your daughter and/or other moms? Be proud of who you are! You can be and do anything! Treat others the way you would want to be treated. Don’t give up! These values and sentiments may not be unique, as we have all heard them before, but we can often forget them as we make our way through life. I always try to teach my daughter these and other important lessons, which are so important to self-esteem and success. In The 52 Weeks, we included a lot of quotes from childhood favorites, such as Dr. Seuss, because research has shown that as adults, we often forget these childhood “lessons,” and reminding yourself can inspire and motivate.One of Seuss’s best? “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”