Last Chance Moms
In recent years, Friday pau hanas for my group of 40-something friends have somehow morphed into Friday playdates for our toddlers. Discussions about careers and dream vacations have given way to talk about birthday parties, the best baby gear and childcare. Even the playful competitive one-upmanship among the dads no longer involves football or golf scores, but rather baby milestones.
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Building a High-Powered Career
“Ever since I was little, I fantasized about being a doctor. Throughout my 20s and 30s, it was all about achieving this dream,” recalls Dr. Cheryl Lynn Rudy. Now in her 40s with a thriving obstetrics and gynecology practice, Rudy’s priorities have shifted from her career to her husband, Michael, 45, and daughters Makena, 5, and Emma, 2. “I love my work,” she muses, “but now I fantasize about being able to spend more time with my family.”
During the week, Rudy is on call 24 hours for her patients. Every third weekend, she covers for herself and the other two doctors in her practice. Every morning at 5, Rudy gets herself and her daughters ready. She takes Makena to preschool and then heads to her office located at either Kapiolani Women’s Medical Center or in Waipahu. Her day is packed with patients, babies, surgeries and paperwork. She’s home by 7 p.m. to bathe, read to and put her girls to bed. If she’s called away for a delivery, Michael or the nanny steps in. “Michael is equally busy with his law practice,” she explains, “and when he has a court hearing or is traveling abroad for work, it gets hectic.”
Rudy candidly views herself as a “weekend mom” and at times regrets her demanding schedule. She plans to adjust her call schedule so that she has more free weekends and evenings. “Before I had kids, being pulled away from a dinner party for a delivery was, at most, an inconvenience. Now, doing a delivery early in the morning and in the evening could mean not seeing my daughters at all that day.”
Still, postponing starting her family has afforded Rudy resources, such as a live-in nanny, and trips to the Mainland to visit relatives.
“I’ve accomplished my dream of becoming a doctor,” she states. “But now, I realize that this only helps me strive for my most important accomplishment yet: Raising my kids.”
Connie Gazmen, 45, lives on the North Shore with her husband, Scott Brewer, 47, and their daughter Sierra, 3. Gazmen, who is a full-time instructor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Nursing and part-time nurse at Queens’ oncology department, made a conscientious decision to delay marriage and motherhood. “Pursuing education was my primary goal. I wanted to finish my master’s in nursing before anything else.”
photo courtesy of Kristin Lipman
“I come from an immigrant family, where education is very important,” says Gazmen, who grew up on Maui. “My parents never had the opportunities I did. They were supportive and proud of me. They sacrificed to pay for my bachelor’s and I wanted to honor that.”
Attending the University of San Francisco, she says, “opened my eyes. After college, there were all these things I wanted to pursue. I couldn’t see myself getting married and having a family.”
She dated Scott, a mortgage broker, for seven years, and married him when she was 36. After focusing on her career and marriage (“We went on trips to Bali, Costa Rica and Tahiti”), Gazmen started trying to get pregnant at 38. After two miscarriages and surgery to remove fibroids, Gazmen was 42 when their daughter was born.
Gazmen believes that being an older mom has helped her be a better parent. “I’ve done what I wanted to do. I don’t mind now if I don’t get to see a movie or go to a concert. We may not have the spontaneity we used to. For example, I used to just go to San Francisco for five days. I can’t do that anymore. But that’s OK,” smiles Gazmen, “I have Scott and Sierra.”