Are you a mom who works or stays at home? In a moving and compelling profile published this past weekend in The Washington Post Magazine, About.com's Guide to Working Moms, Katherine Lewis, writes about the complex issue many women face after becoming mothers: how -- and whether -- to fit into the workforce with their newly-minted identity as a mom.
Lewis skillfully draws us into a woman's search for a job as she attempts to re-enter the workforce after being away for 17 years to raise her children. Like most of us, circumstances dictated many of the choices she had to make. She was able to choose not to work for a time because her husband made enough money; then when she was ready to consider a return to work, her husband got a job offer that necessitated a move -- one that made it more difficult for her to find work. When she finally did find something that fit, the position was eliminated and she was back to square one.
Life, as we know, tends to laugh at us when we try to make plans. It's almost impossible to know how we will feel about going back to work until we've held the child we've carried for months in our arms and he or she looks into our eyes and we into theirs. We can get laid off or downsized, or our spouses can lose their jobs.
When we choose to go back full-time, it can be awfully easy to look up and realize we've missed too many school performances or quiet afternoons together. Conversely, if we take part-time work or stay at home, we can come up against the situation that the mom in Katherine Lewis' piece faced: the daunting prospect of trying to get back into the workforce after a nearly two-decade absence.
In the end, she does find a job -- something that fits her skills and can potentially be fulfilling. That struggle to find the situation that's right at the right time is something every mother can understand. As this piece so beautifully illustrates, the lines between working moms and stay-at-home moms are fluid, and we can all relate to the tugs and pulls and challenges of making our identities, jobs, and motherhood work for us and for our families.