Dear Ann Cannon • I’m a college graduate as well as a wife and mother of a couple of great teens. I’m also feeling a little bit lost these days. I’d love to work again, and I know I’ve still “got it” even after 15-plus years of being a full-time mom. However, I’m struggling to reconcile my role as a full-time mother with my desire to do more outside the home.
People wonder what I do all day since my kids have been in school for some time. Surely, they don’t really want to know about that load of laundry I just finished! I realize that I’m extremely fortunate; my husband makes a good salary, so working part/full-time would be my choice. My question is this — is a job really worth the cost to my family? I’ll be almost 50 if I wait until all our children are grown and gone.
— Don’t Know What to Do with Myself
Dear Don’t Know • Let’s start out by looking at one of your assumptions here — that there will be “a cost” (presumably a negative one) to your family. Naturally there will be changes in your home if you go back to work. Your husband and kids will have to adapt to a new reality. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
A friend of mine who was raised by a single working mother has often said that she values the things her mother couldn’t do for her as much as the things she could. This friend grew up to be strong and incredibly self-reliant, in part because she had to step up and take on more responsibility for herself. What I’m saying here is that it’s not a given your family will suffer dire consequences if you go back to work.
Talk with your family. Tell them what you want and why. Ask them to support you by picking up some of the slack at home. (Hey! Maybe they can do the laundry for a change!) Then, if you want to, go ahead and give it a try. Good luck!
Dear Ann Cannon • A good friend of mine recently lost her father. They were very close and I know this is hard for her. Is there anything special I can do to comfort her?
— Wants to Help
Dear Wants to Help • A friend who lost her father around the same time I lost mine told me she felt like she’d become a member of some “weird club” she never knew existed until her dad died — the type of club you’d rather not join.
I felt the same way. During the days and weeks and even the months that followed, I appreciated the many people who reached out to me with phone calls, visits, plants and cards. All of these gestures meant so very much to me and, in fact, I still keep one of the cards I received on my desk. In it, my neighbor Allen wrote these words: “Keep your father in your life, hold him tight in your heart, speak his name often, and bring him into your dreams.” I’m trying my best to take Allen’s advice.
So, what can you for your friend? Reach out to her. Stay in touch during the difficult times ahead. And encourage her to hold her father tight in her heart.