Life is full of transitions. We separate from our parents, commit to careers, establish families, reassess marriages, adjust goals, and change priorities. However, there is nothing quite like our growing children to highlight the passage of time. With the knowledge that time is passing can often come a feeling of urgency regarding the direction of our lives. Where have I been and where am I headed? What identities and roles have I created for myself? How successful or satisfying have these roles been? Is it time for a change or transition from one role to another?
One such period of self-questioning may be experienced when women who have defined themselves for years as the mothers of very small and dependent children are faced with the growing healthy independence of their “babies.” They may react to this change in their children and themselves with feelings such as exhilaration and hopefulness. At other times, they may feel fearful and sad. Some women’s feelings may not coalesce into anything they can quite describe but leave them with a vague sense of anxiety or nervousness. They may find themselves asking the question: “If I am not the mother of a small dependent child, then who am I?”
For those women who have been stay-at-home mothers, this may become a time to contemplate reentry into the workplace. If this is the case, there may be additional anxieties and confusion as yet another role change is faced.
- The workplace may look formidable and unwelcoming.
- Women may feel lost or disconnected, after an absence of many years.
- While some women may have a profession that gives them a starting point, many others may have no clear idea as to what kind of work to consider.
- Over time not only have the demands and expectations of the workplace changed but also the women themselves have changed. What they care about, what gives meaning and value to their lives have been shaped and reshaped by their experiences in motherhood and their commitment to their children.
- For those women considering working for the first time in years, the unspoken anxiety is often, “Am I worth anything to anybody outside of the home?”
- For those women who have been stay-at-home mothers, this may become a time to contemplate reentry into the workplace. If this is the case, there may be additional anxieties and confusion as yet another role change is faced.
The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” So many women have so much to offer. With a combination of courage, determination and support, stay-at-home mothers can take stock of their many talents and abilities and feel confident reentering the workplace.
Dr. Schwartz can be reached at 203-539-1255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.