Stages of Motherhood

Motherhood is the world’s most challenging and complicated job, with multiple stages. Stage one is pure love and joy. This little human is now part of your life. Their needs are basic. Loving, feeding, sleeping, pooping, and cooing are on the list. As they get old enough to sleep through the night, it can be painful to ignore their cries, but when they wake in the morning with smiles and energy, you realize that all is fine in the world.

Fast forward, they become people. They have their day of going to school, making friends, and finding their way into the world. Teenagedom comes quickly with angst while coming into their own voice. Bigger kids, bigger problems. Then eventually, off to college, flying from the nest, where everyone begins to set up the next stage of life, on their own, including the parents.

Then comes the next stage, which might be the hardest, being a parent to an adult. What are the boundaries, and how do you become a friend but still be a parent? At the end of the day, most of us want to have a good relationship with our kids.

Many women who have opted to put their careers on the backburner have a tough time reentering the workplace. Suppose you have just spent the last twenty years managing a household, raising your children, and involving yourself in mostly non-profit or school-related organizations. In that case, that is hard work that one day ceases to exist.

Motherhood is the work of a solo entrepreneur who works for themselves, setting their own hours that allow for a particular lifestyle. Returning to a full-time structured job is a shock to the system. Unless you have to take that job, the workplace begins to wane heavily.

Women have multiple choices, from working to part-time to staying home, Dad’s not as much, and that needs to change. We now live longer lives, so when your kids fly from the nest, there is a long road ahead where many women begin to feel untethered, particularly those who stayed home. I conversed about this with a dear friend I have known for decades.

Our kids work for themselves, which is not shocking because they came from a household where we worked for ourselves. When they were young, I remember telling our girls to learn how to freelance so they could own their lives. They probably don’t remember, but I do. It gives one the most flexibility to be present when one chooses to be.

My career has allowed me to work and be a Mom. Many women I know with young kids are figuring out how to balance the “freelance” world while raising a family. The beauty of that is working becomes fluid and part of your life.

Countless brilliant women look at the empty rooms with the kids gone, wondering what the next stage is. I have yet to figure out how women who have left structured career environments can return to that after twenty years. If anyone has figured it out, please share.