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Donatella Arpaia Headshot

The 40 Year-Old Mom

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Every Mother's Day that passed me by has been a reminder of the reality that I might never be a mom.

I'd have my whole family at one of my restaurants for brunch and all my beautiful nieces and nephews would be running around. As much as I loved being the cool celebrity aunt, what I really wanted was the title we were celebrating that day. But things weren't looking good. I hadn't found someone I wanted to share my life with, and (perhaps due to my traditional Italian upbringing), I had not considered being a single mom.

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The cutest baby on earth!

Then last year happened. Shortly before I opened Donatella and D bar, I met "the one," Dr. Allan Stewart. Allan crashed into my life and three months later I was engaged and a month after that I was pregnant. A few months later I married, and on the day of my 40th birthday I gave birth to my miracle, Allesandro. Now, as I approach my first Mother's Day as a mom, one thought I can't get out of my mind is how glad I am that I waited.

Sure, at 40 it's been less than easy to lose that baby weight and the sleep deprivation makes me actually see clowns by the end of the week (and I hate clowns). But I'm not complaining.

While I know there are fabulous ladies out there who are secure and self-aware at 35, 30, even 25, I was not one of them. It's really only been in the last few years -- having gone through the high highs and extreme lows of a career in a male-dominated industry -- that I've figured myself out. If someone takes a swipe at me in a review, I won't freak out like I used to. And while I still like to put on heels, I don't panic if someone sees me without mascara.

I have already experienced a patience and understanding with a 6 month-old that I know I did not possess in my younger years that is serving me well as a mother. Ultimately, I'm self-aware enough to know my son is not a reflection of me; he's an individual I brought into the world and it's my job to not mess him up.

These days, all I feel is grateful that I have a healthy child and a wonderful husband -- though I really don't understand how he can sleep like a log through Allesandro's loud teething phase, yet he manages to answer his phone on the first ring if the hospital calls. Side note: One night as my son was crying at the top of his lungs, I called my husband's phone in order to wake him up to help! I suppose the story makes more sense if I add that we currently still live in a one-bedroom apartment. I digress. The point is the frustration is never ever taken out on my son.

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Me and my cutie

I also find comfort in my friends who are also older first-time moms, brimming with experiences and stories to help me make those hard mom choices like to breastfeed or not to breastfeed (more on that later), or when to take the first romantic trip with my husband, without the baby.

So ladies, here is my advice: let life happen! Stop worrying if Mr. Right is going to make his grand entrance in time for you to have children. Live life to the fullest, make those bold career moves, go out with the girls, go on those un-family friendly vacations. Being the older mom can work, especially if you have found the perfect partner to share your experience with.

This Mother's Day, while all my beautiful nieces and nephews are running around, I'll have Allan and Allesandro by my side. And... hopefully some flowers.

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Me and my beautiful family