Your Mother At Your Age

Think your life bears little resemblance to your mom’s? That’s how these three women felt. Then they turned 40.
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Maggie Johnson, 42, Single Working Mom

HOW THEY’RE DIFFERENT Kimberly can devote more time to herself. Kimberly Johnson recently earned her graduate degree and is a sixth grade language arts teacher. "Because I don’t have children of my own, I’ve been able to focus more on myself and my career," Kimberly says. Kimberly’s mom, Maggie, was also a hardworking forty-something. She put in long hours as a baker for Nabisco while raising four daughters (Kimberly’s at the far left). "Her job was demanding, and she often worked the night shift," Kimberly says. And when Maggie did get home, her time was spent on her girls, not herself. She looks younger than her mom did. "In the 1970s, 40 was considered older than it is now," Kimberly says. Her mom was attractive but dressed conservatively, and that aged her. By contrast, "I dress in a fun, youthful way."
Amy Eckert

Kimberly Johnson, 43, Single Career Woman

HOW THEY’RE ALIKE NOW In her forties, Kimberly recognizes an essential trait she and her mom share: "Like her, I’m single and I support myself. My success comes in part from observing and learning from my mom’s independence."
Amy Eckert

Susan Sharp, 42, Happily Married Artist

HOW THEY’RE DIFFERENT Susan’s world was idyllic at 40; Nancy’s turned tragic. Nancy Sharp became a widow at 37. "My first husband battled cancer for nearly seven years, and for the two years after he died, I was depleted," she says. "I found it hard to breathe deeply, to get a clear view of my life, even to be an energetic mom to our two-year-old twins. I knew as I approached 40, I needed a big change in my life to feel more hopeful." So, after 18 years in New York City, Nancy decided to pack up her kids and move to Denver. Nancy’s mother, Susan, had a much more stable life at 40. Her husband was a successful lawyer, she had two beautiful kids, she taught art classes, painted and showed her work regularly at local galleries in Easton, Connecticut. "My mom’s life was certainly busy and challenging, but she was not, thank god, dealing with the fallout of losing a spouse to a terminal illness," Nancy says. While her mother’s life was a continuum in her forties, Nancy’s started over. The move to Colorado proved happy for Nancy and her kids. Nancy met and fell in love with Steve Saunders, a Denver news anchor-reporter who was also widowed and had two children, both sons. Steve and Nancy were married last summer and have blended their families in what Nancy calls the Brady Bunch model. Career-wise, Nancy has also reinvented herself, focusing primarily on writing (she dabbled in public relations, editing and public affairs back on the East Coast), and she’s started a series of children’s books that deal with death and loss.
Amy Eckert

Nancy Sharp, 43, Widowed, Remarried Writer

HOW THEY’RE ALIKE NOW Both women value creative expression. Although their mediums are different-Susan’s is a canvas, Nancy’s is a computer screen-at midlife Nancy has come to realize that both she and her mom express themselves through art. "My mom is so talented; when she’s painting, she operates on this whole other level," Nancy says. And, as an over-40 writer, Nancy can relate. "I’ve finally learned to enter a new space where I can express myself freely and honestly. That was something I had a harder time doing when I was younger," she says.
Amy Eckert

Bonnie Lincoln, 48, Trend Obsessed

HOW THEY’RE DIFFERENT Bonnie was trendy; Kelly prefers timeless styles. "I just got out of grad school," Kelly Lincoln-Falcone says, "so my wardrobe right now mostly comes from the Gap and Loehmann’s. But my style has always been classic and understated. When I went away to college, I remember becoming the quintessential prep: My closet was stocked with turtlenecks, collared shirts and penny loafers. Looking back, I’m sure I was partly just trying to go in the opposite direction from my mom, who was one of the first in our New Jersey town to wear every trend." That is true enough: At forty-something, Kelly’s mother, Bonnie Lincoln, had just had her fourth child (Bonnie Lynn, right) but refused to succumb to frumpy mom jeans, preferring parachute pants, shoulder pads and sparkly jewelry. "It was the 1980s," Kelly allows. Kelly is more reserved, her mother is a true extrovert. Shy as a teenager, Kelly says that she is far more comfortable in her skin today. "I’ve never been happier or more at peace," she says, yet she still considers herself fairly buttoned up, especially compared with her mother. Bonnie, Kelly says, was always exceptionally outgoing. "My mom exuded confidence in her forties and was admirably sure of herself. She didn’t work outside the home, but I remember her being very involved in the community, charities, my school-and she had tons of friends."
Amy Eckert

Kelly Lincoln-Falcone, 42, Classically Dressed

HOW THEY’RE ALIKE NOW Both women had a baby at midlife. Granted, for Kelly it was her first child (Julia, near left), and for Bonnie it was her fourth and last, but their shared forty-something motherhood has allowed Kelly to see something about her mom she didn’t fully appreciate before. "When I had Julia, I left behind my big career in media to work from home as a career consultant for Jobbound.com, a site that guides you through the often arduous task of finding a new position. Scaling back has given me renewed respect for my mom and all that she gave up to be at home for us. She was so involved in everything we did, and now I get it-I’m becoming the same way with Julia. Sometimes I think, wow, I’m turning into her." Minus the parachute pants, of course.
Amy Eckert

First Published Mon, 2009-04-20 14:29

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