Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Some Way Cool Late Blooming Moms

There are plenty of well-known late blooming moms these days, but a few meet my criteria for way cool, because they've managed to do some amazing things while being late blooming moms too ... and that's no simple stunt. Sure, the ones below have an edge on the rest of us: they probably have staffs. Or at least, I know they can AFFORD staffs -- staffs to take care of themselves, let alone their kids.

But nevertheless, I consider them worthy poster moms for our growing club (and growing we are, to the point where one in five women have their FIRST kid after 35, and I'd also count the ones who wait to 35+ to become repeat moms).

J.K. Rowling, creator of HARRY POTTER, is the world's most successful living author (the series has sold approximately 400 million books), and she's performed something even more magical: gotten lots of kids to love reading. The British writer has lately become a big philanthropist -- you go, girl. Though she had her first baby in her late twenties -- the one she cared for while on welfare and writing the first POTTER book in coffee shops -- she became a late blooming mom after marrying her second husband. She had a baby at 37, then another at 39 -- during the same period she was writing of many of the books. No easy task for a mere muggle. (Potter fans raising kids will no doubt enjoy my pal Jen's blog, Julia, Harry & Me and btw, Jen's a late blooming mom too.)

Actress/activist Susan Sarandon is great on screen in everything from BULL DURHAM and THELMA AND LOUISE to the recent Disney hit ENCHANTED ... but here's what she says about being a later-in-life mom: "I had my kids late. I didn't think I could have them and I didn't expect to have them. But they are my best work." Considering how good her acting is, the kids must be stellar. Their dad, actor/director/activist Tim Robbins, is no slouch either. Susan has worked on the part of more good causes than I can count, and is an unabashed, proud progressive.

And speaking of politics ... Elizabeth Edwards is a lot more than the spouse of former senator/onetime VP candidate/2008 Democratic presidential primary contender John Edwards. She's a lawyer, educator, author, active in all sorts of charities, and the kind of gal who keeps on keeping on, even through breast cancer: hence her campaigning for her man even after being diagnosed with a recurrence. But what I find most impressive about her is that she found the courage and strength to have kids again after one of her children died in a tragic accident when his SUV overturned in high wind (for more on the questionable safety of SUVs, read Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker Archive) . She also established a computer lab and an ongoing scholarship fund in her late son's name. Her daughter's in law school and she's busy raising the two young kids she had in her late blooming mom-hood ... while campaigning. Me, I'm tired just reading this.

I was just a kid when ANNIE HALL came out, but even though I didn't quite get all the relationship stuff, I knew Diane Keaton was the funniest woman I'd seen on a modern movie screen, and a direct artistic descendant of the great screwball comedy actresses -- Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell, Myrna Loy and Carole Lombard. Keaton continues to elevate whatever movie she's in, even if the scripts aren't so great. (Someone write a better movie for her, please?) She continues to work even though it's tough to land roles when you're over fifty in Hollywood. And though I'm sure she can afford the staff I mentioned above, whenever I've spotted her out and about with one of her kids in tow here in Los Angeles, she's doing it solo. She goes to the park or the mall with her kids like any other mom. Diane came to motherhood via adoption, but aside from avoiding the wear and tear of pregnancy on an older body, she's a late blooming mom like the rest of us. And unlike other celebrity moms, she seems to have avoided the weird celebrity trap of showing off kids as the latest fashion accessory. Clearly she's too real for all that. Yay.

Emma Thompson is the only person to have won Oscars for both acting (HOWARD'S END) and screenwriting (SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, adapted from Jane Austen's novel -- how's that for a screenwriting debut?). She's as versatile as they come, brilliantly playing two different Jane Austen heroines, carrying suppressed torches the way only the Brits can (THE REMAINS OF THE DAY), showing up in salient contemporary works like ANGELS IN AMERICA, smartly written romantic comedies (LOVE, ACTUALLY) and unafraid to do stuff that's just plain silly (ever see THE TALL GUY?). She's part of the HARRY POTTER series too (playing Professor Sybil Trelawny) and she even popped up in an uncredited role in I AM LEGEND, because the producers probably realized her very presence would lend credibility to an otherwise hard to swallow plot point. She's seemingly ubiquitous, happily for us ... yet she must take SOME time off, because she went and had a baby at forty, and later had this to say: "I have periods of intense activity, then stop. My ideal is to work hard in the morning until I pick Gaia up from school. Just putting an empty square in my diary seems to make a space in my head, too. You have to be very good at saying no." Like Emma, a lot of us established careers before a baby showed up. She may not need the paycheck as much as we do, but she knows she needs the work to keep sane: it's an integral part of who she is. A lot of us can relate to that, and we, too, have to be good at saying no.

Helen Fielding , another British woman writer like J.K. Rowling, wrote the hilarious best-selling BRIDGET JONES' DIARY and its sequel, giving voice to the angst of "singleton" women everywhere. Even though I was already married when I read BRIDGET JONES, I'd had plenty of singleton years and could still relate. Before being a bestselling writer, she used to make documentaries on poverty in Africa for Comic Relief. Her longtime boyfriend/father of her kids is a writer for THE SIMPSONS. As my own husband, who is a huge SIMPSONS fan, would say, how cool is that?

1 comment:

Beth K. Vogt said...

Bravo for all of the Late Blooming Moms--or Mommies-Come-Lately, as I call them!!! We're trendsetters, whether we planned this wild ride or were surprised by it! Celebrities are certainly keeping late-in-life motherhood in the news, but my applause is for those of us who do motherhood without any extra help or the lights, camera, action! life.
Thanks for dropping by my blog. I'll be back.