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November 10, 1989 - Image 85

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-11-10

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Lat er, Mom

Moms and tots get
together at .a Sunday


Special to The Jewish News


ecoming a parent
can be an awesome
• experience at any
age, but what hap-
pens when you're
"forty-ish" and facing
motherhood for the first time?
If you're Edie Fagenson-
Rubin, 41, and Harriet
Bakalar, 42, you find other
women in the same situation
and start a support group.
"I was terrified at the pro-
spect of havifig a baby with no
one to 'talk to about it," said
Bakalar. "I didn't know many
people my age with new
babies, and I felt I didn't have
much in common with
younger mothers."
"When our parents had
children, there was more sup-
port in the neighborhood,"
said Fagenson-Rubin. "Kids
were always outside playing,
and the parents all knew each
other. It's different now — my
subdivision doesn't have the
same kind of family at-
mosphere as when we were
The two women placed a
classified ad in The Jewish
News, spread the word around
among friends and acquain-
tances, and held their first
meeting at Fagenson-Rubin's

Farmington Hills home in the
summer of 1988. About ten
women, babies in tow, came to
find friendship and support.
More than one year later,
they're still coming.
"I heard about the group at
a time when I was feeling
really isolated at home," said
Debbie Metler, 38, and
mother of three. "I enjoyed it
a lot and still do. It's great to
find other women with
similar backgrounds and con-
Nitzana York, the group's
youngest member at 33, join-
ed after moving to the Detroit
area from Israel. "I was very
lonely and didn't know a lot
of people here, especially peo-
ple with babies," she said. "I
find it a great relief to talk
with the other moms about
babies and husbands and
work, and to feel like we're
not alone in this world."
"I work with children every
day," said Bakalar, who is
chief of pediatric social work
at University Hospital in Ann
Arbor. "But when I had my
own child, I realized I needed
much of the same help as the
parents I work with. My ex-
perience taught me that
you're not born knowing
these things."
Fagenson-Rubin, a social
worker with extensive

drive a local
group of

pediatric experience, agrees.
"Many of the group members
are human services profes-
sionals, teachers and social
workers, but we still felt like
idiots when it came to taking
care of our own kids!"
What are the concerns of
older mothers, and how do
they differ from those of
mothers in their twenties?
• "We're probably more in-
dependent, we've had more
years to get set in our
routines, so the changes a
new baby brings are even
harder to deal with," said
"Also, many of us got mar-
ried later in life. Because of

our ages, we didn't have the
luxury of waiting several
years to have children. So
we're adjusting to having
babies almost on top of ad-
justing to being married!'
"We also talk about the
physical problems that come
with having children when
you're older," she said, "like
complications during
pregnancy, genetic testing,
and just finding the energy to
take care of our kids?'
Women who have children
later in life often have
parents who are elderly and
need care themselves, which
can create additional stress.
"Although our parents en-
joy seeing their grand-
children, they can't help us
out or provide support in the
same way that younger
grandparents can," said
Bakalar. "That's another
reason this group is so impor-
Balancing., a professional
life with motherhood has
been a popular group topic.
Because most of the members
had established careers before
having children, the group
has spent many sessions
discussing day care, time
management, and even how
to get their husbands to do
more housework.
The structure of the group

and its composition have
changed over time to accom-
modate the members' needs.
Some early members dropped
out because they were looking
more for a daytime play
"We really are a suport
group, although everybody
enjoys getting together with
the kids, too," said
During the first summer,
the mothers met once a week.
Now that most of the women
have returned to work, they
meet twice a month: Sunday
morning with the kids and
Wednesday evening for
mothers only.
"We realized we needed
time for ourselves, where we
could talk without any
distractions," said Fagenson-
Rubin. "Now most of us real-
ly look forward to those
Wednesday nights!'
"It's great when just the
mothers get together — it's
like a social night out for me,"
said Jan Goldstein Wanetick,
39. During the summer, the
group held a barbecue — its
first event that included the
fathers. Next on the agenda is
a murder-mystery dinner par-
ty on New Year's Eve.
"We joked that the couple
who couldn't find a babysitter



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