Cyma Shapiro Chats with Author Donna Scrima-Black
A: I had two major inspirations: my two boys, my two joys! First and foremost, it’s my way of paying tribute to the greatest gifts ever bestowed upon me - giving birth in my mid-thirties to my first and then second son—18 months later. It’s also my way of shouting out to the world: “Hey, do you women out there feel the same as I do, blown away by the transformative journey you’ve taken into motherhood? What happens to the carefully laid-out itinerary for our lives once we have children? Like me, do you need to connect with other moms about traveling into these unchartered waters, often losing your way? Do you need some Cliffs Notes and a way to share your thoughts about discovering which choices make the most sense for you to live the life you and your family so desire? “
Q: What are some of the lessons you offer the readers?
A: The lessons found in MommyBest are designed for “everyday” moms and aspiring moms who are the real “Superstars” in changing the lives of those they touch! MommyBest was designed with the understanding that women have little time, so they can read the lessons in any order, whichever seems relevant at the time, and then use the Reader Reflection Page to jot down their own responses to one day use as a springboard, if they so choose, to create their own family story. The topics range from dealing with children growing-up so quickly, to parenting opposite children, the importance of moms’ friendships, to what it was like to be an identical twin to the importance of nurturing a child’s relationship with “Grandma.”
Q: You chart an interesting course from professional woman to CEO of your house. Can you describe this change?
A: Moving up the homemaker ladder of success takes time as it took time to climb the corporate ladder. In exchange for a business plan, you’ll be following a different set of guidelines orchestrating your Life plan—preparing for your greatest investment ever: your child. During the first few months of staying at home with my son, I was in overdrive. I set tangible goals including reading several books daily to him, in order to feel as if I was accomplishing some measurable level of success, as I had at my job. Although others were urging me to rest when my baby slept, I continued to run on autopilot. I was programmed to perform on an efficiency schedule at work, so I transferred that mindset to my motherhood role, even trying to bake homemade cookies for my guests who visited. In contrast to my job, I felt completely scattered in my homemaker role at first. There was no job description, paycheck or accolades from my boss/coworkers; no power lunches or even coffee breaks. In fact, I didn’t even know when to eat lunch and had very little social interaction. It took me a long time to learn how to simply enjoy the time with my son and celebrate the many intangible moments of play and wonder.
Q: What has been your greatest challenge and your greatest failure, as a mom?
A: My greatest challenge and failure as a mom has been taking time for my husband and I to nurture our own relationship, separate from the time we spend together as a family. Since we don’t have relatives close by, we don’t have a ready-made support system for us to schedule “alone time.” It’s been a long road for me to begin to trust others with my children, but now that my boys are older, I’m becoming more relaxed about it.
Q: You are also an identical twin - an experience that has shaped your view of the world. What advice would you give women raising twins/multiples?
A: First and foremost, treat your twins/multiples as separate siblings: nurture each sibling’s strengths and recognize what makes each unique and develop those skills. Celebrate their individuality by allowing each to choose clothes, hairstyles and more.
Q: What methods do you utilize to take care of yourself?
A: (Some of my) Methods include listening to music, walking and yoga. The music helps me connect my past, present and future because I became an avid lover of music when I was a toddler, listening and dreaming all my “big girl” dreams. Walking allows me to exercise my body and soul while yoga helps me to connect with my inner being. I also spend time with my childhood best friend who, no matter how old we become, we still feel as if we’re teenagers getting into mischief.
Q: What preconceived notion did you have prior to embarking on this new career, which is now clearly dispelled?
A: I never even thought motherhood was a career—and I never gave my own mother enough credit for all the hard work she performed and how she never once complained about anything she did for us. Since women have so many more opportunities today, I thought motherhood was something women should do--in addition to whatever else they were doing. I learned it’s the most challenging “career” there is and finding the unique balance in my own life of home and career is constantly changing as I evolve as a woman.
Q: As new older moms, the experience of raising children is often intermingled with caring for aging parents, combining successful careers, and maneuvering through a "new world." What methods have you used in charting your own course?
A: When we wait to have our children in our thirties or even our forties, as many of my friends have, we often have to chart the course of our lives and possibly change directions. My best strategy for dealing with balancing all of our lives, including dealing with aging parents, is to handle one piece of your life at a time. Otherwise I become overwhelmed and I don’t do anything well. I get quiet during an overwhelming period and assess, then prioritize what I need to do first. I also find talking with friends who are going through, or have gone through similar struggles, really helps.
Q: You talk about the "Birth of a New Mother" - a phrase which resonates with me and one that I clearly love for myself. Tell me what this means to you?
A: “The Birth of a Mom” is a phrase that I use to describe the moment when my son was born. A Mom was also born: ME! I never could have imagined that the instant I held him for the first time, he reached into the depths of my soul in a way that no one before had. An indescribable bond was created and my life was magically transformed. From that moment on, no matter what else I became, or did, I was Derek’s Mom-- and then Dylan’s Mom—above all else that I have or will do.
Q: What's the single most important lesson you'd like to share with other mothers?
A: The single most important lesson I would share with other moms is to trust your “mother’s instinct” in everything involving your children. It’s the most accurate compass out there, more powerful than all the so called “experts” who will advise you on ways to raise your children. Gather and listen to those who try to help. Take what works and leave the rest. This also applies to those who will tell you that you may be “too old” to raise children. When I was a young girl, I recall sharing how I wanted to be a “young mom.” Well, while I was in my twenties, I was too busy exploring my own life. I wasn’t ready for kids. Our lives are not cookie cutter images for us to follow. Each of us has a unique path to follow, regardless of those breadcrumbs our cartoon characters left for us to search for in a make believe world. Keep it real when it comes to your own motherhood journey.
Donna Scrima-Black is a former advertising executive and teacher with a Master's Degree from Fordham University. "MommyBest”...is a tribute to her sons and dedicated to all moms journeying through the joyful-sometimes-tumultuous-motherhood waters to create the best life for themselves and their families. Visit http://mommybestbook.com.