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The Zen of Midlife Mothering

January 30, 2014

I have, for a year or so now, been writing for the wonderful US website I was approached by journalist, writer and mother Cyma Shapiro, the founder and genius behind the site (and the widely celebrated NURTURE exhibition which has been touring the US for some years now). She is herself an ‘older mother’ and has gathered around her expertise, writers, thinkers and fellow geriatric old fossils (I fit into the latter category), and somehow persuaded everyone to write for her.

The MotheringInTheMiddle website is unique, there is nothing like it online. In the UK we have which is a tremendously helpful resource for older women contemplating pregnancy and motherhood, but Cyma’s site goes much further with personal and very indepth pieces on every aspect of being an older mother. Getting pregnant through IVF, natural conception, donors, surrogates or adopting children, issues faced, fears conquered, brick walls reached, triumphs, disasters, joys, passions, advice, sage words of wisdom on dating and sleeping … there is something for everything, many of the contributions are by fathers as well so it’s not just a load of old women waffling (just incase you wondered)!

I was deeply honoured to be invited to write for the site and have enjoyed working with Cyma. We also hope to launch the NURTURE exhibition over in the UK and across Europe … AND … she has just finished a book. A stand alone, moving, inspiring, funny, heartbreaking, helpful book, “The Zen of Midlife Mothering” … AND I was proud to contribute a chapter to it.

The book is available on Kindle and other electronic formats and also and importantly, as far as this old fashioned mother is concerned, in print (and can be purchased on Amazon and elsewhere

My copy arrived a day or two ago.

It is beautiful. I felt very shaky as I flicked through the pages looking for my chapter, then, half way through, there it was. Starting on page 67. “Milky Magic: Thoughts on Breastfeeding from a Geriatric Mom.” That made me smile, ‘mom’, not mother, ahhh well, a final bit of proofing I’d not been party to but I guess as it’s pulled together and published in America I have to celebrate being a Mom just as much as a Mum or Mother!!

I have contributed to various publications before but this is far and away the most important. It really is the only book in the world by, for, in celebration of midlife mothering which is also for wider consumption by anyone that wants a good read … after all we all have something to learn from each other, young or old or positively ancient.

Mother scooped the book from me and headed off to read it in her room. “This really is rather interesting”, she said somewhat surprised. I presumed she was reading Cyma’s introduction or a contribution from one of the really accomplished writers, no, she was reading my chapter. My shakiness evolved to almost tearful levels!

She bought the book back into the kitchen a little while later and I showed Hope. There is a wonderful picture on the cover, cupped hands, mother and child, coloured and white, in the shape of a heart. Hope tried to put her hands into a heart shape, “Mummy do it”, together we made the shape … it didn’t look quite right but it was enough to inspire young Hope van Gogh. “Painting”, she demanded.

I put her huge painting pad on the table and three saucers full of finger paints, red, blue and yellow.

She looked over at the Zen front cover and squelched her hand in the paint, bang, she bought it down on her drawing pad, and again and again and again. Then she cupped her hands and smeared the paint around, then she mopped her fevered brow. “You’re green”, I told her, she beamed and did it again.

Hope ended up with a bright green face, work completed, she looked across at the book cover again, “Mummy hand, baby hand”, then she looked at her work of art, “Hopey hand”. Then she smiled a green and happy smile, “all done”.

We toasted my being in print with a bowl of pasta pesto and a glass of elderflower cordial followed by a bath and an early night. I’ve been feeling pleased with myself and proud of Cyma and our co-contributors ever since.

Inspired by Zen

Zen and the Art



Do consider buying a copy (I’ll even sign one if you’d like!!) … I wasn’t paid to appear in it but would love for it to be an outrageous success so Cyma can reap not just the satisfaction of having put the book together, but some reward for all her hard work. It has also given me more confidence as I approach the exciting prospect of my own publication.

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