Meet Later Mom Ophira Eisenberg

AGE:  47
RESIDENCE:  Brooklyn, NY
SON’S NAME/AGE: Lucas, 3 Years Old


Standup Comedian

Host of NPR’s Ask Me Another

Frequent host and teller with The Moth, featured on Moth Radio Hour, podcast, in two of their best-selling books.


What was your road to parenthood like?  It was a long road. I spent most of my adult life adamantly telling everyone that I didn’t want kids. And I was very pragmatic about it. I’d tell them – “hey, I made the choice to live in New York and pursue standup comedy. I live in a small apartment and I don’t have a ton of money. So that’s that!” And they believed me.

Then life happened. Many good things. And one very bad. The moment I turned 40, I was diagnosed with breast cancer (luckily, an early stage breast cancer). After a year of surgeries and treatment, I reassessed EVERYTHING, and I felt like maybe I wanted to be a parent. I got pregnant. I miscarried, and it resulted in another cancer scare. After getting through that, I thought I’ll just try one more time and then, perhaps, I’ll reassess again. Amazingly, I did manage to get pregnant again, and now I have a 3 year old boy.

When you became a “later” mom, what did it feel like?  Well, I was worried about not having the same energy and patience as a younger mom, but on the flip side, I knew I was all in. I wasn’t worried about whether or not it was the right time! I didn’t care about not making it to parties, or hanging out at bars. I’d done it! I also had established my career, so it felt like it was meant to be. The timing made perfect sense, and I was/am grateful that I was able to make it happen at all.

How does being a mom influence your work?  There are some limitations to the kinds of projects I say yes to, specifically if a lot of travel is involved. I remember a friend saying to me when I was pregnant that one of the great things about having a kid is that it forces you to prioritize and really hone in on what you want to spend time on and what is meaningful. It’s a hard lesson, as I built my career saying yes to everything. Now, for my sanity, I have to say no to lots of things, but that has also given me a greater sense of self-worth.

What advice would you offer to multi-tasking, overwhelmed “later” moms?  I don’t know if I have any advice to offer because I’m in the same boat! But remembering that less is more is helpful. I often chant in my head, “Everything is cancellable!” when I’m feeling over-committed. Other times where my brain feels like it’s going to explode and it’s swimming with all the things I need to do, I find a minute to write down what exactly I need to get done, just to get it out of my brain. It often looks a lot less daunting on paper. Also – outsource! Lean into ordering online, subscription services that work for you, and if you can afford it, someone to clean your house a couple times a month. I’m slowly learning the lesson of: something’s got to give, meaning if I make the choice of doing one thing it means probably not doing the other thing. If I’m spending time working, the dishes probably won’t get done. If I’m spending time with my son, I won’t be going to the gym, etc… and being comfortable with that.

Do you think it’s tough to balance parenting, a personal life and professional pursuits?  Tough? I think it’s near impossible! But I think the idea of balance is not realistic. At best it’s more of a variety act, than a balancing one. I’m also starting to realize that no one has it down, everyone is still figuring it out, and if they say that they have it down, they are lying!

What do you do to practice self-care and de-stress?  I’m pretty basic when it comes to this. Self care for me can be as simple as stealing myself away from my life for 20 minutes to have a tea, read half of an article, or just stare off!! But I do try to make it to the gym or a yoga class with some level of inconsistent consistency. Also, breaking the routine and scheduling a date night or a night with a friend is HUGE! I don’t do it enough, but it really helps take the edge off.

Has anything about being a mom surprised you? What do you love the most about it, and what is the most challenging?  This sounds so naïve and maybe even dumb, but when I was pregnant and trying to conceptualize what my life would be like with a child in it, I did not factor in how much I would like hanging out with my kid, how much I would want to plan fun things for us to do, how much I would get excited about showing him things, taking him to a cool park, putting him on ice skates, to the beach, reading a new book, or taking him on big adventures. I never thought how much that would enrich my life.

The most challenging thing is everything else! Ha, no – I think what is really challenging and surprising as well is that raising a child really exposes a lot of my weak points that I need to work on – patience, conflict resolution, leading by example, practicing routine and not leading with fear. Because I want him to be confident, happy, and empathic, I have to show him how to do it, and often I think I don’t know how to do it myself.

What do you most want to teach your child, and what have you learned from him thus far?  One skill I’d love for him to have is the ability to learn an instrument. Having never learned an instrument, I so hope my child learns to play one, and wants to learn to play one. I guess I’ll find out what kind of mother I am when I put my kid in expensive clarinet lessons and he battles with me because he just wants to watch TV or play. This was me occasionally about ballet lessons when I was a child, and of course with hindsight I am so glad my mother made me go to my ballet classes.

Because he’s a boy, I want to make sure I raise him to love, respect, and look up to women. I want him to know how to clean, really well. I want him to have the ability to think about someone else and ponder what they are feeling and how things might affect them, and then choose his actions based on that.

What words of wisdom would you like to share for someone contemplating motherhood over age 35?  Come join us! Ha! But it is more and more common for women to become mothers for the first time over 35. I realize I live in New York, so it’s a specific kind of lifestyle here, but there is a ton of support for mothers who started later, and even stories of women pursuing a second pregnancy close to 50. It does change your life, but I’m glad I did it when I did it. It was the right choice for me, and also it doesn’t matter what age you are, there is no preparing for this wild ride!


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