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Pandemic Reflections by Sharon O’Donnell

I really don’t know where to begin. Who ever could have imagined we’d find ourselves in a situation like this back in January? Or even early February? My childhood best friend (and also still a best friend of mine now) flew from Tampa to see me and my family on February 20th through the 24th; at that time, Covid 19 was not a consideration. Yeah, we heard something on the  news about it, that it had been in China and Korea and even into Italy. But it became a dire situation so quickly.

My 95-year-old father was scheduled to have hip replacement surgery on March 11th after years of incredible pain and bone loss that he had lost most of his mobility and had to be transported around the house in a wheelchair. My 95-year-old mother was still in their house with him, and my three siblings and I had been taking turns staying with them. In October, we had hired a caregiver to come in from 10 pm ’til 7 a.m. so that we could focus on the days. We were looking forward to the surgery decreasing my dad’s pain. At that time in March, most of the warnings … Continue reading..

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Trips for Two by Sharon O’Donnell

One of the things about being an older mom with a child considerable younger than his/her siblings, is that you inevitably begin to spend more time one-on-one with that youngest child as time passes and the siblings get older. When my two oldest sons were in college, I found myself eating out or going to movies very often with my youngest son, their little brother who was nine and six years older than them. And since I held my youngest back a year in school because he has an August birthday, there is a decade gap in school between my oldest and youngest. My oldest was a college freshman in 2009, while my ‘baby’ just started his first year a few weeks ago. That’s a lot of time in between. An age-gap baby indeed.

But I’ve so enjoyed my one-on-one time with my son, which was frequent, especially when my husband travels a lot. What I’ve enjoyed most are the trips that my youngest and I have gone on together. Several weeks before he went off the college two and a half hours away, Jason and I went to Chicago together — just the two of us. I loved it, … Continue reading..

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Blurry Vision by Sharon O’Donnell

Is it really the end of July?

Six weeks ago when my youngest son, Jason, graduated from high school, the summer seemed to stretch out lazily ahead of us. His freshman year of college was over two months away, and there seemed to be plenty of time to do and say the things I wanted to do and say before it was time for him to leave. But somehow the weeks passed without a lot of that getting done or said. There was graduation week, filled with fun with friends and family and school events. The next week Jason had his wisdom teeth out, which basically was a ‘lost’ week where nothing really happened except him wearing an ice pack around his face and eating a lot of ice cream, applesauce, and mashed potatoes. Then we went to college orientation at UNC-Charlotte for a few days, and then to Charlottesville, Virginia to accompany my middle son, David, and his fiance as they scoped out wedding venues for next year; this was a brief but fun family trip as our oldest son, Billy, drove down from DC, also. And then it was the 4th of July week, followed by buying college … Continue reading..

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My ‘Older Mom’ Mother by Sharon O’Donnell

Not only am I an older mom since I had a child when I was 38, which is considered advance maternal age; but, my mother is also an older mom because she had me when she was 38. I’ve written in my book, Please Don’t Let Me Be the Oldest Mom in the PTA, about our close relationship, particularly how my being the youngest child meant that we spent a lot of time doing things together as my siblings got older and did things with friends.

Mama is now 94 years old. She suffers from macular degeneration, so her eyesight is poor, but I think she compensates somehow because she still cooks great meals and gets around pretty well. When me or one of my siblings takes her to the eye doctor though, suffice it to say that she has to squint to make out the top line. I really don’t know how she does it. She has been a wonderful mother, grandmother, sister, great-grandmother, friend to many, and of course, wife.

My father is also 94, and he also is a gem. Worked in his own business from the 1950s until just this year when hip and leg pain … Continue reading..

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No Place Like Home by Sharon O’Donnell

My husband and I have lived in the same house for 29 years now. We almost moved to a bigger house outside the city limits back in 1998 but decided against it. I even wrote an article about this housing decision for one of my regular columns for our local newspaper, and I came across a copy of it a few weeks ago. I had to laugh when I read about our oldest son, then 6, telling us that if we moved he would keep coming back to visit the people who moved into our house. I’d forgotten about that.

Our oldest is now 27 and living in DC with a steady girlfriend, our middle one is 24 and engaged to his long-time girlfriend, and our youngest is 18 and a senior in high school who will be going off to college three hours away in August.  This is the empty nest they told me about. It had seemed so far away. Since my oldest and youngest sons are nine years apart, I’ve had at least one child at home since 1991, and the realization of how much my life and routine will be changing has hit me harder than … Continue reading..

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My Boy’s Going to be a Husband! by Sharon O’Donnell

I haven’t posted since July. Lots of changes. My youngest son started his senior year of high school in August and then began the college application process. He’s been accepted into several wonderful colleges and is looking forward to the decision process over the next few months. My mother-in-law passed away in late September, which was a very sad time for us all. We did enjoy seeing all the relatives whom we rarely get a chance to see who came for the funeral. I had a nephew get married in October, and it was a blast celebrating with him.

On the day after Christmas, my husband, youngest son, and I will leave for Denver, CO for a quick trip and to meet my oldest son out there with his girlfriend and her family. My oldest and his girlfriend leave in DC but are in Colorado visiting her family for Christmas, and we will go out to meet her parents and siblings for the first time. Can’t wait!

And my middle son . . . the one who suffered from bouts of severe anxiety in high school and college . . . well, he just passed the third of four parts … Continue reading..

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New Humor Book About Mid-Life Moms by Sharon O’Donnell


It’s been a long journey getting my second humor book published, but it was finally released this week. Please Don’t Let Me Be the Oldest Mom in the PTA is my take on the humorous and poignant moments of being a ‘later’ mom, complete with those times when I was called my son’s grandmother (thank, buddy!), when I realized I was the oldest mom at the PTA meeting, and when I discovered a new age spot had appeared overnight, prompting me to ask, “Where the hell did that come from?”  I was 38 when I had my youngest son after having two who were nine and six years older than my ‘baby’. I knew right away that being an ‘older’ mom was a bit different than motherhood had been the first two times around. My sons are now 27, 24, and almost 18–I’m the mom of men now rather than a mom of boys.

I started working on the ‘oldest mom’ book ten years ago– yes, as in a decade ago, right after my first humor book, House of Testosterone:  One Mom’s Survival in a Household of Males, was published by Houghton Mifflin in the spring of 2008.  … Continue reading..

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My Son’s Best Birthday by Sharon O’Donnell

Just returned to Raleigh area yesterday from a wonderful trip to Washington, DC to visit my oldest, Bill, 27, who has been living there for a year. Went with my husband and 17-year-old son, Jason, and our beloved 13-year-old long haired dachshund, Fenway. Our middle son, David, 24, picked up his girlfriend, Claire, in Charlottesville and met us there. Got to see Bill’s girlfriend, Jenna, for the second time and get to know her better. She is very sweet and beautiful and seems to be such a great match for our son. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Billy any happier. And that is what it is all about.

This is the first time all seven of us have been together, and it was a lot of fun. July 4th was Billy’s birthday, and I was glad it worked out so that we could spend it with him. We also went to three Red Sox games against the Nationals, which the Red Sox won. Since my husband’s family is originally from the Boston area, he grew up as a huge Sox fan, I became one, and our sons grew up as avid fans. Their girlfriends have become Red Sox fans … Continue reading..

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Scattered Pictures of the Smiles We Left Behind by Sharon O’Donnell

As Father’s Day approaches, I’ve been going through the old 8mm films and VHS tapes that my dad has taken of family and friends over the years. We are so blessed that he was ahead of the game when he bought that 8mm camera with the big bright lights on it so many years ago (I guess in the 1950s). With that camera, he captured the smiles, faces, and yes, even the dance moves of relatives and friends who’ve since passed away. And of those who have simply gotten older and might have forgotten those long-ago images. It is indeed bittersweet to look at these films of days gone by. They are definitely priceless. My father didn’t know at the time he was taking those pictures what a gift he was giving his children and grandchildren that would continue to give decades later. Or maybe he did.

These faces and memories show my children where they came from, who they came from. These films and videos literally bring to life the great aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents that my kids have only heard about. There are some with voices and those older ones on film without the voices. … Continue reading..

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More Than a Diploma by Sharon O’Donnell


This is my middle boy, David, after his graduation with a Masters of Accounting from NC State University this week. This is also my boy who had speech therapy starting at 3, reading comprehension issues in elementary school, an auditory learning disability, & severe anxiety beginning his junior year of high school. He was a good student throughout middle and high school and a very good baseball and basketball player, but he was able to do these things because of his determination and work/study ethic. I got a tutor to work with him, and I worked a lot with him one-on-one also. Athletics came easy to him, but academics didn’t. He was intelligent, but the issues he faced made it difficult. When school athletics ended after high school, he turned all  his focus on academics and — Wow!  He excelled in the classroom like never before, making Dean’s List every semester. His perseverance and drive were unbelievable; there were still some hard times here and there, but he came through them. He learned how to advocate for himself, and he learned how to better deal with his anxiety.

He still played intramural sports in college, and his basketball team … Continue reading..

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