How To Marry A “Mensch” With Robin Gorman Newman
If you are feeling stuck and want to meet that perfect person, this episode is for you! Join love coach Robin Gorman Newman as she joins Karen Pulver and Goddesses to talk about meeting, marrying and being a mensch! A mensch is a decent, responsible person – not a boring person, but someone who is kind and considerate and will be there for you always. Robin gives people a chance to get out of the box and if they feel familiar is safe, she asks you to see the difference between what is familiar and what might be right for you. Being familiar may not always be the right choice. In fact, as the saying goes, “It takes one to know one.” So if you are a mensch, you can attract one as well.
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How To Marry A “Mensch” With Robin Gorman Newman
Thank you for joining us. We are glad that you’re joining us. It’s been a while that Grateful Goddesses has been out. We hope that you’re enjoying your journey of learning and discovering new things. It’s important to remember how to tap into your inner goddess. There are various ways of doing that. There’s watching, listening and reading the show, and learning from our guests that are joining us. There’s looking inside and taking that inner goddess, all of those qualities out, being inspired by our guests, and then taking actionable steps to do something to move forward. Our guest is going to talk to us about those actionable steps of how to tap into your inner mensch.
What is a mensch? We’re going to talk about that. Some of the techniques that she talks about specifically are getting to know who you are thinking about your inner mensch. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Shifting those weaknesses to make them to be more positive, and things that you can do to help yourself to love and care about who you are. If you can’t love yourself, how are you going to attract others to like and love you? In addition, I love this, the Eggshell Plan. This is something that we often talk about. It’s trying out new things like walking on eggshells. It may not be comfortable. It may not feel safe but it’s so much fun to try new things. It’s scary and sometimes can feel uncomfortable but it’s so enriching. When you get yourself out there trying new things, you’ll meet people. That’s how you connect. Our guest is Robin Gorman Newman. Welcome to the show and thank you for joining us.
I’m happy to be here.
I’m happy you’re here. I love the cover of your book, How to Marry A Mensch. Robin, you wear many hats and you’re involved in many creative and innovative initiatives. Can you share with our readers what those are, and what motivated you to do what you’re doing?
I always try to follow my heart essentially if I’m launching something new. If it’s coming out of me, which I feel like new things always do, I recognize that I’m not alone. Because needs are often shared and it takes a village in many circumstances, that led me to create one of my current endeavors, which is MotherhoodLater.com. It’s a worldwide organization for those who became a mom over 35, which is me. I know we’re going to talk a little bit more about that but that’s one of my hats. I also work as a love coach for singles and I authored two books, How to Meet A Mensch in New York and How to Marry A Mensch. That also came out of need because I was trying to meet somebody. I felt like it would have been helpful if I had some kind of a book. This was pre-COVID and on the cusp of web when I see a book like a Zagat-ty guide to help me assess where to go and what to do, not strictly advice. I’m also a long-time theater lover. I became a Tony-nominated Broadway producer and I’m having the best time with that.
I can see that. You do take all of the things that are affecting you in your life and apply it to helping others. I want to hear so much too about your passion with theater. We’re going to invite our Featured Goddesses on to join us now. They have some questions for you as well. Alyssa, you can start.
Robin, it’s so nice to meet you. You mentioned that your books were born out of your own need and desire to have some kind of a guide in your own life. Can you talk a little bit more about what inspired you to sit down and write them?
My first book was How to Meet A Mensch New York. The second is How to Marry A Mensch. How to Meet A Mensch In New York was born essentially because I felt trust so long like I was the go-to person in my circle. I was always very resourceful. I was always figuring out, “Friday night, we should go here. Thursday night, we should go there.” It got to be exhausting after a while, not just for me but for all my friends tapping into my ideas, which I loved but I certainly never planned to be a formal resource. I always wanted to write a book and I started keeping a notebook. I was commuting back and forth to New York City and jotting down vague ideas, whatever they were when they came to me. One day, I looked in that notebook and I was like, “There’s a book in here.”Model being a mensch in order to raise a mensch. Click To Tweet
That book was How to Meet A Mensch In New York. That was when it hit me that it would be so helpful if there was some Zagat-ty type guide that could point people in different directions and hopefully, open their minds. The book is categorized. It has things like nonprofit, travel, singles events, all kinds of not just obvious things but I dug deep into it to give people a chance to think out of the box a little bit. It’s easy to get stuck and you do what you know and you do what’s familiar, and that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you anymore. It might not be working.
I would assume your book, How to Marry A Mensch, chucked all those ideas and made them more global. It’s different, how to meet somebody in New York as it is to meet somebody. We’re in America, so I would think that was the inspiration for your second book.
What happened was I was doing a lot of speaking gigs and I got a lot of press coverage, which is crazy for me because I was on CNN and the Today show for a local book, and it got huge press in London. That was quite fascinating because mensch is such a unique word and I didn’t choose it lightly. I know we’re going to talk a little more about that but it’s a word that doesn’t translate everywhere necessarily. If you know it, you love it. If you don’t know it, there’s intrigue around it. For some reason, the Brits embraced it. It was fascinating to me. To your point, it became futile in a way because my first book was only sold to the Tri-State area. I started giving advice at the suggestion of a friend of mine. She said, “Why don’t you work one-on-one with people?” That’s when I branded myself as a Love Coach. From that and the advice I started giving to people and through my lectures, and then through the press, I said, “It’s time for another book. It’s time for a book that isn’t limited regionally.” That’s where How to Marry A Mensch was born.
I am a native of the Tri-State area myself and you don’t grow up in the Tri-State area without knowing what the word mensch means. For our audience out there, can you tell us the true definition of the word mensch?
It’s a decent and responsible person. The origins are male, but at this point, it’s not a male word at all. It applies universally across all religions and everything else.
I have one last follow up question, which is as the mother of boys, not only do we want to marry a mensch but we want to raise mensches. What are some tips that you provide to your clients and that you can share with our audience about raising a mensch?
I don’t dig into that with clients so much because my clients are single. They might be a single parent certainly, but they come to see me for dating purposes, but I am endeavoring to raise a mensch. My son is a teenager and he’s a volunteer firefighter. I am hugely proud of him. I can’t take ownership of that choice for him, but we do support it fully. Part of raising a match is to model. I didn’t model being a fire person but I did model giving back to other people, taking it back to the community. What can you do for others? When he was little, we used to do simple things like making brownies for the local fire department and police department to thank them for their efforts. I would take them to North Shore Animal League. We would donate blankets and pillows, and all kinds of things that the animals were in need of. There are a lot of steps that you can do and kids notice how you show up in the world. I tried to be overt about it but even if you’re not, I would make it part of your ongoing dialogue and lead by example. Don’t limit it to your community because not everyone lives like you or looks like you. That’s an important lesson to share.
Robin, it’s great to meet you. I enjoyed reading parts of your book and I intend to finish it. I wanted to know if you could offer some advice that’s timely because during COVID, it’s very challenging for the dating world. I’d love to hear how you’re coaching in terms of getting out there and having COVID-safe dating experiences. Even to push people to continue dating during this time because I could imagine it might be a time where people retreat and say, “I’m going to sit back and wait until this passes.” Could you speak to that a little bit?
I’ve been very active as a love coach during the pandemic, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but I’m glad to see that. It’s so important not to give up during this time and not to feel like this time has to be quiet. A number of my clients who are ongoing but I’ve also started working with some new people who are recognizing that they don’t want to waste this time because we don’t know how long this is going to go on. This is not a quick fix, unfortunately. What I do see is an amazing opportunity to connect virtually. You can do the social distance thing too, but the virtual connection has so much to gain because there’s so much to be offered now that was not being offered before.
I’m a fan of not doing things that are social but also expanding your social circle. That could be things like networking, joining organizations, seeking out even common workspaces that are doing all kinds of online stuff, and taking classes. There’s such a plethora of seeking out the things that you might not have done before because it wasn’t on your radar, or now it is such in abundance that you can clearly find something. You might be surprised how you can connect during this time in a meaningful way. I have met some cool people during the pandemic, all virtual. I’ve segued from a few into a social distanced backyard visit because I do live in the suburbs and I am able to do that.
Certainly, if you live in a city, you can do that as well safely within your comfort level. I think just to jump in there and to recognize that it’s a time that people are more sensitive, people might not be completely themselves. There is a level of an emotion that’s there for some that didn’t exist previously. Be kind to yourself if you’re feeling like it’s difficult, or if you’re feeling like you can’t dive into this, then give yourself a little time also. You talked about being an inner mensch. We have to treat ourselves with care at this time because from one day to the next, you might feel like a different person. When you feel like you’re up to it, go for it. If you don’t, it’s okay to take a little break too, but stay positive even while you’re doing that.
There are day-to-day shifts depending on how people are feeling. If they’re cooped up a lot and staying in their homes, it could make a difference. That’s good advice.
Robin, you and I met on Zoom. Don’t you find when you’re talking on Zoom, maybe I’m the only one guilty of it, but even now I could be staring at Camille and she wouldn’t know. I can look around her background. I could check her out and all of you. You can be talking to someone and then checking someone out. That’s a good advantage. I wanted to touch on Saturday Night Live. I’m not sure if you watched it but they showed a couple and how couples are meeting now, and how they’re meeting on FaceTime. They slowly progressed towards the social distance, and then maybe taking a COVID test, and then meeting. Did anyone see that?
You have to look it up. It’s going to be the new norm for how to date people. In a way, it slows it down, which is cool if you think about it. It takes time to get to know the person. It’s not like a quick, “Let’s just meet for coffee,” and then you start to get to know the person. Camille has some questions about raising mensches.
I want to add just quickly, Karen, because you raised a good point. One thing because we’re talking about mensches here, and how somebody would treat you during COVID is a sign of that. For example, I have a friend who was in her early 70s who’s trying to date right now. She was supposed to socially connect with a new guy. She met him online and a lot of people that are doing the Match.com of the world now. He called her up before they met and said, “A friend of mine was exposed to somebody with COVID. I’m going to get tested. I think we should delay our meeting.”
I thought that was considerate because someone else might have not thought of it or might have thought, “It’s a long shot. It wasn’t me. It was six degrees of separation thing,” but he didn’t want to take any chance at all. He showed up as a mensch front and center. It’s an interesting time to assess somebody’s character. That’s something that when people are dating, they don’t always think about the character. You might think about, “Am I attracted to someone? Why am I attracted to someone?” What about how they show up in the world and how they would treat you at the end of the day? That’s why you want a mensch. That’s why this is an important conversation to have.Kid notice how you show up in the world, so lead by example. Click To Tweet
Did they end up meeting?
Not yet. COVID tests take a little while, but they absolutely will. Now I can tell you she’s all the more excited because she knows he’s a good guy.
I’m curious because you mentioned earlier about your son and so on, and then being a role model to raise mensches. In a world where there are many nonmensches who are being put up on a pedestal, who are the main focus right now beyond politics, in general. Those kinds of personality types aren’t supported. How do you suggest we reinforce that being a mensch and even dating mensches or encouraging our husbands to be more of a mensch? All of that and even ourselves in that sense when the world seems to support the more cruel, toxic masculine types of energy.
That’s a million-dollar question. As moms and as individuals in the world, those who have a mensch consciousness are always working on that. For me, one of the first steps is to have that mensch awareness. Are you? How do you show up in the world? There are many memes now. Everyone’s on Facebook and social media to be kind and to be good. I get a little tired of personally seeing those things because it’s not just words. It’s action. What are you actually doing? Are you helping people in any other way that you can? Are you doing simple things like smiling at a stranger as you’re walking down the street? Being a mensch doesn’t have to be a grandiose effort, but it does have to be some level of effort. You can’t just say it.
As far as raising kids and with all the news out there, I agree with you, so much of it isn’t always good about good people, but there are good people in the world. If that means you have to dig a little deeper to find them, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. If you’re raising a kid who’s a young child and let’s say you’re reading to them, find the books about the positive people in the world. Find the books about the people who marched to their own drum and weren’t afraid to be an individual and made a difference. Read the news about positive stories. If you can’t find one, then don’t dig into the news so much. I personally try not to even watch the news that much, especially during COVID because 90% of it is negative. That doesn’t mean there isn’t good, but you don’t always hear those stories and they exist. Work to find them and make that a priority in your life.
You can find them on Grateful Goddesses because we interview many mensches on the show. A lot of positive people taking actionable steps to do things. That’s a good place as well. Dina has some questions about your coaching.
Yes, I do. I have a few questions. My first question is what is your love coaching process?
I work with singles of all ages and backgrounds, and tend to be a little more women than men. There is a questionnaire that somebody fills out and it’s not very intense but it gives me a sense of where you’ve been, what your efforts have been like to date, who you’re looking for, what you feel like you have to offer. It’s fascinating to me how sometimes reading something so concise like that, I can already get a strong sense of what’s going on. I do individual one-on-ones through Skype, FaceTime, Zoom and phone. I was doing them in person but I’m not now during COVID. What I bring to it for people is to think beyond what feels familiar, and to think about things that you might not have done to push the envelope a little bit. Get out of that comfort zone unless it’s working for you.It’s so important to not give up on meeting someone, especially during this time (COVID), virtual connection has so much to gain, expanding your social circle, networking, social spaces, classes and seeking out what you may not have done before and… Click To Tweet
Chances are it’s not if you’re calling on a love coach, I also work with you to maintain accountability. I think that’s helpful, especially at a time like this because it’s easy to get lost in your own thoughts, or to feel like you’re trying so hard but are you really? I can assess someone’s online effort, how they presented themselves, the photo they’re using. That’s such a vital thing because often, people just stick something up there. They want to get it done and they want to move on. If it’s not working, why isn’t it working? Why don’t we take a look at that? Let’s see if your current efforts are in fact on the right track. We might tweak them a little bit and see if you can attract different people. If you need some completely new ideas, then I will stay in touch with someone and create a plan.
I send constant emails. We do ongoing phone conversations. Once I work with someone, they’re on my radar. Whatever I think about them that might be interesting, even as a connection to someone else. I’m not a matchmaker but I have made introductions. I do endeavor to do that. My overall goal and what can be most helpful to people is to think about living fully because that’s what it’s about for me. If you feel good about yourself and you’re doing things that put you out there that not just keep you busy but hopefully, at least some of them enrich your life. The Match.com of the world aren’t necessarily enriching your life.
There are other activities that you can do. Strike a balance between the effort to find someone, and to fill in your life with other things that are exciting to you because you never know where it’s going to come from. That’s one of my key takeaways. It’s to be open. I’ve often found that when people start working with me as a love coach, the mere fact that they’ve booked a consultation with me already gets the wheels turning. They might need someone because they’ve decided they’re ready. That mental readiness speaks volumes.
Do you find that most of your clientele are open to the constructive criticism that they may hear from you, or sometimes there are those that back off and say, “I don’t like what you’re saying, I’m not doing that?” What’s the response?
It goes both ways. I don’t think it’s that they don’t like it. I think you have to be ready to receive. I wouldn’t describe it so much as criticism. It’s more that I try to be constructive, but I want to be honest with somebody because there’s no point in my sugar-coating it. If there’s something that I’m seeing that I feel like they need to do differently, I’m going to put it out there, and then it’s up to them what they decide to do with it. I’m here to support them and to encourage them in every way that I can.
If someone shows you a picture of him and his mother like close, usually you’re like, “I don’t know if that’s not going to attract the right person.”
That’s one example. I’ve worked with women. I had one female client who was doing the online dating thing. I said, “Let me check it out.” She showed me her photos. One of them, she was wearing dark sunglasses. You couldn’t even see her face. Another one was at such a distance. I’m like, “Come on. Honestly, that’s the best that you could do?” I know that it’s easy. People want to snap their fingers and be done with it, but let’s see, is it working for you?
It’s great that you work on the person because I always tell my teenage kids before they’d start to date that, “You have to love yourself. You have to be confident, feel confident so that then you can attract people to you.” If you go out into the world and you’re like, “I’m not going to meet anybody,” You’re not going to meet anybody. I love that, even just opening up to it. That applies to a lot of things in our lives. Opening up to the possibility will attract all different people. We’re going to switch gears now unless anyone has any other questions.
If there’s one tip that you’re giving your singles, what is that tip?
It was never just one tip. One of the things that feel important to me, and I’ve witnessed this, is that you are more likely to meet a mensch when you decide you deserve one. That can sound so obvious but I’ve worked with people who have blatantly said to me, “I don’t want to meet a mensch.” I’m like, “Why is that?” “A mensch might not ride a motorcycle. A mensch might not be cool.” I’m like, “A mensch can’t ride a motorcycle? A mensch can’t be nice, respect you and be stimulating?” Nice doesn’t mean schlep, another Yiddish word. Nice doesn’t have to translate as boring. Nice doesn’t have to mean that you’re not going to be excited for the long run. A mensch does mean they’re going to show up for you and have your back forever. Why would you not want that? If someone says that to me, that’s such a red flag. I can sense exactly why they are single, and why they’ve been making bad choices their entire life. It’s up to them how they want to reframe that.
I have a question. I think it’s different to coach someone who’s come out of a relationship, whether it was a marriage or a long-term relationship with someone, and is finally ready, willing and able to meet someone new, and someone who maybe has never been in a long-term relationship. Do you find that those people require different types of coaching? I’m interested to learn how you approach those situations. Maybe it’s not different at all.
It’s a little different only in that you’ve made choices already, and you have a history. We all have a history, but if you’re divorced, widowed or what have you, and if you’re a widow but you had a happy marriage, that’s one thing. If you’re divorced and it wasn’t a great marriage, why isn’t that? Whose idea was it to break up? What made you go for this person to begin with? Is it your pattern? That’s one thing that I try to look for with people. Is there a pattern here? Do you have a habit of choosing the same people? Are you self-aware or maybe you’re not and you thought you were, and that’s why you chose that person and made that error? It’s important to have sometimes another set of eyes on it.
That’s where I can come in because we’re also close to ourselves. Doing something that is familiar can often feel like it’s right, but familiar and right are not the same things. I would urge everyone, if you’re not sure why things are turning out the way they are for you, work with a love coach like me or even have a therapist, or find someone else who can help take the closeness out of it for you. People often talk to their friends and friends know you. Friends have their own vision and friends won’t always say, but someone else will. It’s a long answer to your question but there is commonality, but there is a difference as well.
Robin, I wanted to touch upon the point where you said that as singles, you would rely on your friends when you describe the person you are beginning to date. If you’re trying to grab advice, it would be easy to lean on friends. As well, I believe there would be circumstances where parents are adding their two cents on who your mates should be. I am excited about your role because it’s so needed. It’s needed to have that objective perspective on someone who can walk through your interests, your character to let you see. With friends and family, adding their opinion can be so difficult.
Especially Jewish mothers. Sorry but I’m one of them. It’s always like that. It’s always like, “Are you sure that person’s good for you?”
I think friends too can bring in some of their own baggage, possibly with jealousy or those things. How do you guide people to take away the external opinions?
That’s a big part of why I do what I do because I’m not that person who’s so close to you. We all come to things with our own history and our own baggage. You have to be a little guarded perhaps in what you share, and not just about dating but in general. I don’t mean to be secretive, but I’ve even found that during the pandemic. I love my friends and I’m fortunate to have many good ones, and in the process of making some new ones, which is always wonderful. You know how certain friends tend to react to certain things. I might have one friend who tends to be the alarmist. I might have one friend who is going to tell it like it is, and be in my face about something. We know who our peeps are.
If you’re uncertain about a situation or you want to seek out advice, you know how your friends show up for you. Are you ready to receive in the way that they’re going to react to your situation? If not, don’t get into that with them then. You’re better off speaking to a third party person. That’s sometimes why some people have therapists. I’ve had therapists in the past. I remember I started to feel like I was putting too much on my friends, and I was expecting a lot from them. Sometimes our friends show up as best as they can, but they can’t be everything to us.
This is a good time for Lara, if she doesn’t mind, to talk about her mensch husband and how they dated. We were talking about it. It is a very funny story. Can you share, Lara?
I’ll share this story and I will add that I wasn’t part of this project. My husband had me laughing so hard when he shared this story about prior dating experiences. He was not reading relationship books, or I don’t know how he came up with this, but it seemed to be a great litmus test. He came up with this idea that he was going to take dates to the same restaurant, order the same meal so he could have a controlled study that nothing was going to change except for the woman that he was dating. He could truly know that he couldn’t blame it on the atmosphere, the meal he had, etc., and truly know if this was his person. I thought that was amazing.
Did you pass the test?
I did pass the test. He said I wasn’t part of that specific test, but do you give advice similar to that because maybe he missed his calling?
Maybe I will now. No, I have not given any advice like that. Does he feel like that served him?
Yes, he did. He said, “It took out all the other interpretations of the evening because it was so consistent.” I didn’t make it to that exact restaurant. I think his dates were very similar. It wasn’t like adding this fun activity that skew like, “That was fun.” He was being very logical and practical.
The waiters knew him. They gave him winks. I thought that was hysterical.You are more likely to meet a mensch if you think you deserve one! Click To Tweet
I was going to ask about that. I would imagine that the restaurant was highly amused.
That characteristic of being a very logical and organized mensch has been a key to my marriage of over 25 years. He had a lot of humorous characteristics. I said that right off the bat. It was like he is an organized mensch and that was good for me.
Talking about the different kinds of mensches, you do talk in your book about metro-sexual mensch, TJ Maxx mensch, all of the different mensches. While reading your book, I totally can understand how it has been an inspiration for a musical. I know that it’s on early development. We talked a little bit about it. I can envision all the different mensches up on stage singing in their different ways. Can you tell us a bit more about this development?
I was approached by a Broadway producer a number of years ago about spinning the book into a musical. Unfortunately, he passed away. I lost my cheerleader but then fast forward, I became involved on producing myself theatrically and I became Tony-nominated for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 that was on Broadway with Josh Groban. It seemed my involvement with that and digging deeper into the industry, I started mentioning it to people and other producers and colleagues and things who all thought it was such a fun idea. I now have a producing partner who I’m working with on it and we’re in early development. We’ve hired our book writer during the pandemic, which I am thrilled to support artists, and to be developing any project at this time. We have our composer lyricists.
The book is an inspiration. I’m not sure that you’re going to see those mensches on stage in the way that you’re describing it, but they are writing an original story. It’s inspired by the book. It’s not going to be the book theatrically put up there. Our hope with it is that the message will ring true that it takes one to know one to find one. We’re on mission mensch. If we can inspire more people to be a mensch, and the show is not going to be preachy. It’s going to be entertaining, but hopefully, we’ll have messages that will resonate and to get people to think about, how am I showing up in the world? What are my efforts? What can I do differently? Am I helping to spread mensch-hood? If we can put that out there, my work will be done.
I’m sure it was validating and rewarding to you, especially being a writer. Can you tell us a little bit more about your connections to Broadway then?
I’m a long-time theater lover. I was a theater critic in college for my student newspaper. I was doing freelance writing in the theater realm when I graduated. I wanted to be a theater critic for a while, but Frank Rich got hired by The New York Times. He was the lead critic back when I graduated. I thought, “He took my job,” as if there was no other job that I could get. I pushed it aside and started doing it freelance. I pursued some other career work, but then I circled back to it because I was raised loving theater. I never thought I’d be a producer per se, but it fell into place through my Motherhood organization that I launched because there was a big trend in mom shows for a while off-Broadway and regionally all over the place.
I reached out to a show that was in California about moms not knowing it was coming to New York. I connected with the two producers on that, and they invited me on. It was the first show I got involved with as an associate producer. I found my peeps. I found my home. My heart was in theater. It always has been. From that, I started to get involved with Broadway. I’m on two other Broadway shows that are in early development. Now, the industry is in intermission, but it’s coming back and those shows will be done, as well as many others. One amazing thing during this COVID period is the creativity is off the charts. I got named to the board of New York Theater Barn, which is a nonprofit organization.
One of the things that I love to share with all the theater lovers out there is that if you do enjoy theater and if you think of Broadway, try to have a consciousness of where those shows came from. No show just starts on Broadway. They all either started off-Broadway or regionally, or even overseas. Because of those organizations like New York Theater Barn, a public theater or a mosque, there are many off-Broadway non-profits that need support right now because those are the incubators for the new works that eventually make it to off-Broadway and Broadway. If you want to see shows again in the future, take a look at the incubators now. They’re also all doing amazing virtual work now. There’s a lot of cool stuff that you can watch, but think of that supporting too. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money but it all adds up, and it’s valued by these theatrical organizations.Think about how you are showing up in the world and can you spread 'menschhood' to others. Click To Tweet
You mentioned Motherhood. Let’s turn a little bit to that. What led you to launch Motherhood Later? Can you tell us about that?
I became a mom over 40 with my husband through adoption and we’ve had fertility challenges. I never thought about age, but when I was out there in the parenting trenches with my young son, and my dad was alive but my mom had passed. I didn’t have that maternal support. I didn’t have a lot of friends in my circle who were doing it. They had either started younger than me or they were single. They hadn’t met somebody yet. I didn’t know anyone who adopted. I was in a Mommy and Me program and I thought, “This would be cool. I could meet some interesting moms here. My son was young, he could play.” The kids are playing and the moms are off to the side in a discussion that was led by a social worker. It got to be such a bore.
Every week, it was the same stuff being talked about. There was one woman in the group who was ad nauseam every week would complain that her mother shopped too much for her kid. After the third week of hearing this, I couldn’t take it anymore. I got on a soapbox. I looked out my business card and I handed it to her in the middle of the group. I said, “Here’s my card. Your mom could shop for me any time. If she wasn’t here, you would miss her.” I sat down and I thought, “That’s great, Robin. You’re going to make a lot of friends doing that.” After that, she came over and thanked me. I was glad that I gave her that a-ha moment, but it was also a big a-ha moment for me.
It made me think about where I was at in my life, and that maybe age did matter. Where are my peeps? Where are the women over 35 who are parenting? I knew they existed, but I wasn’t meeting them out here. I’m in the suburbs and I was going to the parks, and doing all kinds of stuff for my son. They either weren’t showing up or I wasn’t walking around saying, “How old are you?” You don’t talk to people about age. I started looking online to see if anything existed. I was amazed to see that it did not. I launched Motherhood Later in New York and I have a background as a publicist. I was able to get the word out very easily. We began completely offline.
It was a meeting once a month and we would talk. It was strictly the moms and from the get-go, I had fifteen women and it kept growing from there. I started doing Mommy and Me events, and then do mom’s dinners and lunches. It started growing in New York, then I’d be connected with a gal who I used to be friends with in New York. She was a big tech gal, a big pioneer in the women’s realm in that arena. Unbeknownst to me, she had moved to Alaska and was now a later mom too. She said, “I need that.” She launched what became our second chapter in Anchorage. She said to me, “We should have a website.” I said, “Sounds good to me.” She said, “I’ll do it.” I said, “Great.” She created MotherhoodLater.com, which I’ve now had redone because that was a while back. Once we got online, we now have chapters all over the world. We launched chapters in Houston and Nigeria, which has been fascinating.
I’ve started doing it with a gal who’s become a partner of mine and she heads our Houston chapter. She’s a mom who adopted as well later in life. We’re doing a free Zoom chat. We were doing it every week since late March 2020. I wanted to do a give back to our Later Mom community during the pandemic because it’s hard for all of us, but especially for moms at this time with the whole remote learning and homeschooling. There’s so much going on with that. Now we’re every other week but it’s been an amazing thing and it’s free. I’ve loved hearing not just about people’s parenting challenges but also about how COVID is affecting where they live. Nigeria has been a whole other example of that.
We’re all moms here. We range in age. Camille, you have the youngest child here. Camille has some questions for you too.
It’s very interesting that you bring up about your fertility challenges and so on, and causing for you to have a child later in life. I too went through a lot of that and decided I wasn’t going to even have children because I had many different medical issues already. I ended up having my daughter at 32 unexpectedly. What was your decision as far as to make that decision to become a mom later in life? How did you come to that choice?
It wasn’t a choice to become a mom later in life. It started when I met my husband, and I was in my 30s when I met him but we got married. I didn’t want to become a mom immediately. We waited a couple of years before we started trying because for me, it always felt important to know who I was as a person, to feel established and comfortable and happy with my career choices, and what I had achieved professionally. I wanted to be able to show up as a mom in the fullest possible way. It’s such a balancing act, as we all know, and something has to give. We can’t be good at everything and be on our game all the time. I wanted to be in a positive place. Once we decided that we were ready, we had unforeseen fertility challenges.
We went through IVF. We did some inseminations. We did the testing to figure out what’s wrong. It’s quite a process, as anyone knows who’s been through fertility challenges. My mom passed away during that time. That might have even been part of it because stress certainly impacts fertility. It was a difficult time. I never felt that comfortable with the drugs for myself on a personal level, especially with the IVF. I felt like this might not be so healthy for my body. While we did it, we didn’t do it a gazillion times like some women choose to do. No judgment if that’s your choice, but it wasn’t our choice. We started becoming open to adoption. I had never thought that much about it. I was never against it in any way. I just wasn’t informed. We started looking into it and eventually did that. Unfortunately, we had a bad experience and we wound up getting scammed. That also contributed to my later in life mom status because we lost a good couple of years because of the scam waiting for a child that we were never going to get. We got scammed by an agency.
Do you have any red flags you can suggest for other people to avoid that same thing happening? I can’t even imagine.
Our adoption story could be a lifetime movie.
I did not know I was delving into that.
It’s funny because I consider myself an intelligent person. I try to do my homework. As I said, I didn’t know anyone else who had adopted. I don’t know even how did we get to this particular agency and where did that come from. I can tell you, they were in California. I don’t even know how we got to them. Certainly, if I knew then what I know now and having been through this experience, I would try to find others who have adopted. I would contact some adoption organizations, see if they can refer you if you aren’t going the agency route. There are different ways to go. We eventually got my son through a private route after being scammed by the agency. I was like, “We’re done with that.” It was very complicated and we have legal matters as a result of that and financial loss, loss of time, and loss of spirit for a while.
I can see you and your husband were able to go through something so tough together. Truly both of you are mensches to even go through that and still be together.
It was a tough bounce back because once we realized, and we found it out inadvertently through an attorney who wasn’t even our attorney, who I reached out to about something and she raised this red flag. We wound up part of a class-action suit. It wasn’t just us. It was a whole planned thing.
Lara, you wanted to add?
Robin, for those people reading, you’re a true inspiration to putting out into the world what you needed. At the same time, it opened up. I get the shivers thinking of all these people who’ve benefited all over the world from your inspiration. I can relate because I had lost my mother prior to having my first baby. Being amongst the women in the playgroups, hearing of different stressors that we’re affecting them was not even in my realm of thought at the time. I seek out these options but they weren’t available. Had I followed my heart and put something out into the world for a support group for new moms who had lost their mothers, that would have been such a gift to the world. Now with the social media and spreading your message worldwide, it’s amazing. More people should get up and do what they feel they need. It needs to help so many others.
Robin, you’re such a mensch. Mensch attracts mensch.
I try but I’m not perfect. Being a mensch takes work but it’s on my radar.
How can people connect with you, whether it be for love coaching or for Motherhood?
My site for love coaching is LoveCoach.com. My site for Motherhood Later is MotherhoodLater.com. I do have two communities on Facebook for Motherhood Later. One of them is private. It’s a wonderful place to share. There are many heartfelt threads in there and it’s a safe place, which is important now. I have a mensch group on Facebook as well. If you can’t find it, I’m happy to hear from people to direct you. It’s called Mensch Lovers.
When can we expect the musical? Do you think an estimate? I know with COVID, it’s hard to tell but when do you think it will be out? A couple of years down the road?
I wish I knew. We’re early development. We’re not going to be that affected by COVID, which I’m hugely grateful for. My musicals take typically a minimum of two years. Frankly, that’s a little low from a musical because you’ve wanted to be somewhere else first. You want to work out the kinks. We’re not sure where we’ll be. Florida’s been thrown out as a possibility. We’ll see how it evolves. We’re not that far away at the moment from getting our treatment from our writers, which means three songs and the sketch of the narrative. We’re waiting with bated breath and excited to put this out in the world ultimately.
We can’t wait until it comes out. To end, I loved to read this part in your book. This is your summary, “MENSCH. M, keep an open Mind. E, Engage in varied activities. N, act Natural on a date. S, connect with your Spirituality. C, be a good Communicator. H, maintain a sense of Humor.” I think that’s key, the last one. Definitely have fun and enjoy the process. Thank you so much, Robin, for joining us. You are the true inner goddess mensch. Thank you.Instead of thinking about why you’re attracted to someone, think about how they show up in the world and how they would treat you at the end of the day. Click To Tweet
It’s a pleasure. Thank you all.
Mensches out there, we are now talking about favorite things and these are things that we enjoy. Even if it’s something that you’re not sure about, look at it in a different light. Look at how it brings you happiness. How every day, different rituals that you have or people that you’re meeting or colors that bring you happiness. We’re going to talk about that. Lara, would you like to start with your favorite thing?
I’ve had a relationship with this Five-Minute Journal for about a year and it’s by my bed. I did it in the morning and at night. I’m not always consistent, but I truly find when I am, things in my life are going smoother and I set an intention. By jotting down the simplest things, it helps me. It starts by having a quote that’s shared at the top of the page. You fill in simply, “I am grateful for,” and you write three things. What would make this day great? Three things, and a daily affirmation. That’s all for the morning. At night, it’s three amazing things that happened during the day, and how could I have made this day better. I highly recommend it.
What are you grateful for now?
I’m grateful for this interaction because it’s the gift that keeps on giving, sharing information with all of you. I can’t wait to hear other favorite things because I’m sure I’ll be excited to try them out.
That sounds a lot like your social journal, Robin, how to put yourself out there and be grateful. I love that, Lara. Thank you for sharing. Camille, how about you?
I have a tendency of never say no and always helping out. Anytime somebody asks me to do something, I’m like, “Yes,” and I go way beyond. I had met this lady a couple of years ago casually through LinkedIn. The first time she met me, she was like, “You need to say no more.” She gave me this pen that says no. It cracks me up and I keep it near my desk to remind me to say no more often. It’s a full sentence. I don’t have to explain why I don’t have to give away my time, my services, whatever it may be. Working in the entertainment industry, people assume that everything you do, because you love it, you must be able to do it for free. It’s not. It’s unfortunate. I want to be able to say no more and not yes, Shonda Rhimes.
You’re setting boundaries. You’re taking care of yourself.Strike a balance between exerting the effort to find someone and filling in your life with other things that are exciting to you. Click To Tweet
I am because I watched some documentary. I want to say it’s Tony Robbins, where he was talking about the fact when you don’t say no, it’s self-hatred for yourself, that you don’t love yourself enough to create boundaries for what your time should be used, how you should be treated, how you should be loved, or whatever it may be. I re-reminded myself. I said no to a job because it didn’t pay enough. I felt empowered that I stayed in my no and didn’t say, “I’ll be the cheap girl that everybody knows they can get for cheap.” No, I won’t. I refused.
We all need one of those. We’ll have to list here to get that. Alyssa, what did you bring?
I brought two products that are going to save me in these coming months. One, I have horribly dry skin in the winter and this is my favorite. I refilled my favorite hand cream. It has shea butter in it. It’s amazingly thick and the only thing that helps me.
What’s it called, Alyssa?
It’s called L’Occitane. They’re all over the place. I ordered mine online, but it’s 20% shea butter and does smell like baby powder. My husband’s not a fan of the smell, but it does work and I’m going to use it continuously even though he doesn’t like it. The other thing that I brought is we’re all suffering from maskne under our mask that we’re wearing all the time. Nothing stresses me out more than bad skin. I brought this thing. My dermatologist recommended it and this is not my New York accent, but it is called ZitSticka Killa. They’re little stickers and you put them on. You can put them under your mask and it’s like, salicylic acid or whatever you’re supposed to put on these things. They are amazing miracle little things. You can’t even see that, but it’s on and they’re great. You feel like you’re getting something on your face and it’s an amazing miracle product. My dermatologist gave those to me and they’re great. Those are my two saving graces now for the next few months.
I love that with the mask. I want to ask you though, Robin, about dating. I guess people have to liven up their eyes because their face is covered. Good glasses or good mascara or the eyebrows.
It’s funny that you said that because I mentioned about a friend of mine who was in her early 70s was trying to date a menschy guy who’s great. We had that exact conversation because she said to me, “My best attribute is my smile.” I went with her on Etsy and we ordered. She has a shield but also, they make these clear masks and we ordered clear masks for her so that you can completely see her face and the smile. The problem is they’re not so breathable because they’re plastic. Even if she wears them when they first meet, and then she does a mask switch, at least he got to see the smile and her signature red lipstick.
She has to make sure she’s not wearing a pimple zit face mask.
I wore one with my husband’s grandmother, who’s hard on hearing. She reads lips. We’ve worn these clear masks but they’re not breathable. You’re going to need these when you’re done with it. It’s a clear mask. They’re not great for the skin.
Dena, how about you?
I am very much a person about smells and my go-to right now for laundry, this should be used for washing special things but I’m using it in almost all of the loads of wash. It’s The Laundress and it’s their classic scent and everything smells good now. My sheets, my clothes, my house, I can’t escape. It’s a dream. I love it.
Where did you get it?
I ordered it online, maybe at Amazon. It’s by The Laundress and it’s their signature detergent. It’s the classic. It’s yummy.
I love that you love smells. Did your husband love the smells too? I heard you say, Alyssa, your husband does not love that smell but you still wear it. You still like it, but does he love the smells, Dena?
He hasn’t commented on this one yet.
Who cares? You like it.
He did buy me perfume and it’s a smell that he loves, so I wear it and he likes it.
Before Robin goes, I’m going to bring you one of my favorite things. When I got married, I was up at my parents’ cottage in the country and I passed by a bakery. This was before my wedding and I saw this in the window. It’s a cake topper that I thought was the cutest thing. It’s a little bride and groom blonde but it was missing one thing. Can you tell what was added? A little yarmulke on top of the little boy’s hat. Where we purchased the cake, they made it and they put it on. It was a Jewish wedding. I haven’t opened it for a very long time, but it sits in our bedroom and reminds us of that wonderful night of our wedding. I truly do love my husband. I do feel like he is quite a mensch and he’s a Jewish mensch. That’s one of my favorite things. Robin, how about you?
I discovered this artist during the pandemic on Etsy and this is one of the pieces that she made and what I love is, can you see what it says?
“Confidence has no competition.”
I’m a bird person, so it gravitated to me because of this beautiful little bird. I thought that is so true because at a time like this, we need to support each other. It’s not about competition. It never should be about competition, especially now that people are feeling different emotional things, showing up differently. Just support each other. I become obsessed with this artist on Etsy. It turned out that she’d lost her job either pre-COVID or on the cusp of COVID, and has now turned to her artwork at this time. I’ve been spreading the word about her on social media because I’m a bird aficionado. She doesn’t just do birds, but I now have a whole bunch of her pieces. I could open up probably a room of all of her pieces because they did a little pick me ups for me during this whole COVID period.
It’s been such a blessing. She wraps so beautifully. She puts little personal notes in there. Her pieces are very affordable on Etsy. Her name is Rhonda McMillan. It’s called The Abstract Pebble on Etsy and she’s a complete sweetheart. I gifted people these during the pandemic. She’ll send a thank you note to them, a get well note, a birthday note. She personalizes whatever she sends out. It’s a beautiful, affordable way of lifting your spirits and the spirit of others. It’s all-natural materials. This one is a fused glass.
Is that a red cardinal?You are more likely to meet a mensch when you decide you deserve one. Click To Tweet
I don’t know what kind of bird it is. It’s like a fantasy bird. They’re very whimsical, four little birds floating around. This one I love and they come framed or not. It’s beautiful, this glass. This one is a framed one and she uses all-natural materials. It’s fused glass. It’s stone. It’s pieces of pottery shard. She even does some custom work. It has been a delight for me whenever I’ve gone to town a little bit on it, but I figured I’m not buying Broadway theater tickets, so I said, “I’m buying bird pictures on Etsy.” Every time the box arrives, I get excited. I also know that I’m helping support her. It touches my heart in more ways than one. I think Etsy has grown at this time. A lot of people are turning to that because this brick and mortar is in question in some places, and people have lost jobs that they used to have. They need extra income. It’s a blessing if you can support people on Etsy.
I love when you say you used to treat yourself to Broadway tickets, but now you’re treating yourself with that. It’s nice to treat yourself and to do something that you love. That’s also what you mentioned in the book, “Take care of yourself.” Thank you so much for joining us.
It was a pleasure. Thank you to everyone. I hope it was helpful to the readers.
- Robin Gorman Newman
- How to Marry A Mensch
- How to Meet A Mensch in New York
- Mensch Lovers – Facebook Group
- Motherhood Later – Facebook
- Tony Robbins – Documentary
- Rhonda McMillan – Facebook
- The Abstract Pebble
- New York Theater Barn
About Robin Gorman Newman
Robin is the author of how to meet a mensch in New York and how to marry a mensch (decent, responsible person). As the founder of lovecoach.com, she’s been seen on CNN and the today show and has lectured extensively including canyon ranch and Mohonk mountain house.
She is also the founder of motherhoodlater.com, a worldwide organization for women who became a mom over 35, featured in time magazine, USA today and us news and world report. An avid theatre lover, she is a tony nominated broadway producer of Natasha, Pierre and the great comet of 1812 that starred Josh Groban and is currently developing, with her producing partner, a musical inspired by her books. she is one of the co-hosts of 3 women present, a new webinar series featuring inspiring speakers for women over 40.
Robin is the mom to a 17-year-old son who is a volunteer firefighter, and they live in great neck with her mensch husband.
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