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An Older Mama (Uh, Me) Talks to One of the Lil’ Mamas About Raising Kids Then and Now

I was so lucky to meet so many great people on our trip to Australia with Oprah (yes, I love to casually fling those words around!) and it’s inspiring to follow what they’ve been doing since then.

You may remember Cecelia Behar-Bush (left), who wrote a powerful guest post for us, from The Oprah Show — she’s the woman who announced her pregnancy to her husband at our big bash in Sydney, so it’s fitting that she and Lauren Price recently joined Lil’ Mamas, the brainchild of their friend, actress Alisan Porter Autenrieth. The three partners refer to it as “not your mama’s mama blog,” and it’s so honest and funny and real, I wish it had been around when I had my first baby — 23 years ago!

Cecelia thought it would be fun for me, as an eldermom, to pass along my words of wisdom to the new moms who make up her audience. I assured her that, although I am definitely approaching the elderly stage, I am not particularly wise and that she should adjust my advice as she sees fit since I did feed my eight-month-old daughter french fries and unhesitatingly place my newborn son on the floor in front of our beloved chow chow for her approval. (Of the two, I only regret the french fries — and even that, not so much.)

So, I’m answering the questions instead of asking them. Thanks, Lil’ Mamas, from … a Big Mama??? Oy.

What do you think are the biggest differences between being a new mom now and when you were a new mom?

Technology! We didn’t have cell phones when my kids were born and we were just starting to get computers and internet. Jeez, I sound like a dinosaur! Honestly, though, I’m glad we didn’t have all of that back then because I can see how it would be so easy to get distracted and not give your undivided attention to your children – which, not to be preachy or anything, they need more than anything.

Alisan Porter Autenrieth

If you could go back and tell yourself something as a new mom besides “enjoy every minute because it goes so fast” – we get that – what would it be?

That there’s no such thing as a perfect mom. You’re going to make mistakes, and your children will still be fine. My kids have fallen out of strollers, almost choked on grapes and been sent to school with strep throat because I thought they were being dramatic. They’re now happy, healthy 20- and 23-year-olds with stories to tell.

Lauren Price

Is there a product out now that you wish you had then? What? 

I’m pretty far removed from the latest baby products but would love to know what’s new! 

Do you have any mom regrets? If so, what? 

I wish I had fed my kids better. I don’t cook and we lived in Manhattan when they were little so it was easy to always order in or just stop for fast food while we were out. The kids used to ask what the “food man” was bringing for dinner. Funny but definitely a fail on my part.

Clearly, marriages change after kids. What is your best advice for dealing with that? 

It’s really hard sometimes but you both have to make the effort. If you can get out for regular “date nights,” even if you’re exhausted, it reminds you that you’re a couple, not just your kids’ mom and dad. That will come in handy when the nest is empty – which happens way faster than you think it will.

How did you have the sex talk with your kids? How did it go? 

We’ve always been really open with the kids, and some of our best conversations have been in the car, with them sitting in the back seat – where they don’t have to look me in the eye – asking questions, and me sweating while driving and trying to give them answers without offering more information than they needed! I think they really learned everything in Barnes and Noble one day, though, when my son, who was maybe eight or nine, was in the bathroom for like 15 minutes and I kept shouting in to see if he was okay. My daughter, who was only six-ish, said he was in there with a book. When he came out, I asked him what book he had taken in there but he held it behind his back and wouldn’t tell me what it was. It turned out to be the Kama Sutra, which, he announced, my daughter had shown him. She just grinned and went running back to Junie B. Jones.

A younger, dark-haired Lois and kids

How have you dealt with social media and your children? Did you monitor them? Friend them on Facebook? Or stalk them incognito? Do you put up old pics of them without asking?

Like I said, there was no internet when they were younger so we didn’t have to worry about any of that stuff. Facebook came when they were already in middle school and high school, and I never monitored them because I had already given them so many lectures and I really did trust their judgment. By the time I got on Facebook myself, we agreed not to friend each other so we could all have our privacy. My kids are friends with each other, though, so sometimes I do ask one to stalk the other for me! And, yes, I put up old pictures of them without asking but nothing that I think would really embarrass them.

Have any of your kids had issues with you talking about them or using pictures of them online?

I wouldn’t write anything really personal about them without asking first, and they’re actually more embarrassed about how much I share about myself. When I wrote a post about 25 random things I learned from 50 Shades of Grey: The Magazine, I got a horrified phone call from my daughter, saying that all her friends loved it but she was mortified that I said I’d like to make it clear to my husband that I don’t want to be spanked. I laughed and told her she should be glad I didn’t say that I do want to be spanked.

My kids, grown. Sara still looks mischievous!

What’s the best part of being a mom? 

There’s nothing like watching – and helping – your kids turn into people you genuinely want to spend time with. Both of my kids are 3000 miles away now but I talk to them almost every day, and often turn to them for advice. They were adorable and hilarious as little kids but I’ve had just as much fun with them as adults. I’ve attended the women’s Olympics gymnastics trials and rocked out from the front row at Lilith Fair with my daughter, and I’ve walked over lava fields in Iceland with my son. Plus, when I need to figure out Google+ or download my photos, I have two experts standing by to help.

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.


  1. Rachel Harari says:

    Lois – I love to read your interviews and this one, of you BEING interviewed, was just as delightful. I know your kids are way more that proud of you, embarassing moments and all. You are just terrific. Here’s to an “eldermom” who is still “so with it!”

  2. Great interview! I would agree with the “perfect mom” comment. We all beat ourselves up for not doing everything just so, and really, the kids turned out ok!

  3. Kim LePiane says:

    This is great Lois. You are a wonderful Mom and your giant heart shines through this interview.

  4. Wendy Karp says:

    Great answers. I couldn’t agree more! I can’t decide which picture made happier. Seeing your kids as I remember them or as the lovely adults they’ve become. Well done.

  5. I think the big difference is in the distractions available to us as moms. Before smart phones, it was different. It’s easy to fool ourselves thinking we’re engaged when we’re with our kids, but checking our phone every couple minutes. When you had to go into a different room to turn on the computer (or the TV), you were aware of how much time you were spending there.

  6. This was a great Q & A! I loved learning how you may or may not have done things differently. There wasn’t the huge distraction of social media (for both my kids and myself) when my kids were younger and I agree, that can be a real issue with today’s parenting…I already have that food regret too. I try, but I hate to cook so my boys will just have to learn to cook for themselves…hopefully soon! 🙂

  7. Joni White says:

    As always, I am reading the SSS stories/interviews as if I am sitting in a nice, big, comfy chair right next to you, listening in ‘live’ time!!! Very enjoyable and I love that phrasing: casually flinging around “Meeting so many great people while in Australia with Oprah”–I love to “casually fling” too!!!! 😀

  8. Excellent interview! Young moms can learn so much from veteran-moms, and I think your insight that no mom is perfect is SOOO important for all of us. Sometimes women have such impossible expectations for themselves that they are hyper-critical of every decision they make. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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