April 2012 Profile: Elizabeth Weil

Elizabeth Weil
AGE: 42
RESIDENCE: San Francisco
CHILDREN’S NAMES/AGES: Hannah (9) and Audrey (6)

PROFESSION: I am a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine and the author of No Cheating, No Dying. Visit www.elizabethweil.net.

Q: What was your motivation for writing your new book NO CHEATING, NO DYING? What do your children think of the subject?

A: I realized that I was being less energetic and curious in my marriage than I was in the rest of my life. I put a lot of energy (including intellectual energy) into my job, raising my children, my friendships, my health, but I had a much more passive attitude about my marriage. It was good, and so I let it coast. Once I realized I was being lazy about the most important thing in my life, I decided to change that. And because I’m a writer, I decided to write about it, too.

Q: You had your second child at age 35. Did it feel any different being a bit older as a mom compared to your first child? How so?

A:I didn’t feel that much older when I had my second child than when I had my first, but I certainly found the experience of a being mom the second time around very different. For me, that second time, the baby was so easy. But learning how to be a mom to a toddler who just had a new sister? I found that VERY humbling.

Q: What do you see as the positives and challenges of having a child at age 35 or over?

A:I love being an older mom — knowing who I am, what I want, having my work life at a more stable place. Sometimes I do wish I had my children when I was younger, though. I don’t want to miss out on anything in their lives later on, you know? Already I cannot wait to be a grandparent. That sounds so fun. And if my girls choose to have their own children later in life, I’ll be a pretty old grandma.

Q: Has anything about being a mother surprised you? If so, what? What do you love the most about it?

A:The biggest surprise to me is how much I love being a mother. This might sound strange to some people, but I didn’t really think I would love it this much. Or love it this fiercely. My absolute favorite thing is to snuggle with my kids when they’re still sleepy in the morning. They’re not babies anymore — now ages 6 and 9 — but in the morning they’ll just melt into you and forget that they’re already at an age when they’re beginning to separate.

Q: What do you most want to teach your children? What have you learned from them thus far?

A:I want to teach my children to love — to love life, to love learning, to love their families and their friends and themselves. They’ve taught me a tremendous amount about love as well — how deep it is, how much it challenges and stretches and changes you.

Q: How did becoming a parent impact your marriage?

A:We didn’t have the easiest transition to parenthood — well, to be more precise, my husband didn’t, so that impacted me as well. He’d always been a guy who spent huge amounts of time outdoors surfing or rock climbing. He’d also pretty much always been self-employed. You know, he was a guy who very deliberately built his life in order not to be too weighed down by daily obligations and tasks. And babies change that in a big way! It took us over a year to adjust. Now, though, I think our kids have added a great new dimension to our marriage. We’re both so damn proud of them! Of course it’d be great to have more time just the two of us. (What I wouldn’t give for a week on the beach with just my husband right now . . . . )

Q: What influence, if any, has your own mother or father had in your life and in your parenting?

A:Oh my goodness, my parents have had huge impacts on my parenting. Especially my mother. She is the most amazing, energetic mother and grandmother. I think about her every day, mostly trying to live up to her. She has this attitude that the people in your family are rock stars, just the most fabulous exciting people on earth. I’m trying to pass that along to my daughters. So far I think I’m succeeding. They see their cousins and scream.

Q: Where do you turn for support as a mom? How important is to connect with mom peers?

A:I turn a lot to my family for support — to my husband and my mother. I also have a few bunch of friends who are mental health pros, social workers and psychologists. I have to say that they are the GREATEST. All of us need to know as parents that we’re not weird and alone.

Q: What words of wisdom would you most like to share with others contemplating becoming a parent, particularly if they’re 35 or older?

Just go for it! Rationally, there’s never a good time to become a parent. It’s too huge a change. But it is the greatest thing ever. Babies come with all the love they need.

Q: When you became a mom, did your own mother or father share any particular sentiments or advice that really resonated?

My parents didn’t give me any advice, they just were so damn excited about the births of my daughters that they made me feel like being a parent is the most important thing in the world. And it is.