I am a member of the Generation Fabulous group of midlife bloggers, which runs a monthly bloghop. This month’s topic is “Reinvention.”
My home town of Los Angeles didn’t invent the concept of reinvention, but it is probably the capital of it. For generations, my city has beckoned folks from around the world to relocate, rethink and make a new start. I don’t know if it’s California’s climate, laid back attitude or relative newness, but this place seems to be a magnet for people who know in their hearts that if they can’t make it where they are, here is where they will have a shot.
This is great for all of them – but it leaves me kind of cold. I was born here and have lived here just about all my life. Where do I go to get a fresh start?
The truth is, reinvention is not a process just for artists or hustlers, nor does it require a change in geography. All of us hit stages where the life we define for ourselves no longer fits, when we need to shed an old skin and start anew. And I think it happens more frequently for women.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot these last few months as my daughter entered 12th grade and I’ve been hit with the reality of the empty nest looming just ahead. Being a stay at home mom was never in my plan; before she was born I was confident that I would handle motherhood and career with the same competency I had always displayed in my professional life. I was wrong, and admitting that shook me to the core.
I did not reinvent myself as a full time mom – the world did that for me. I became aware of this the first time I accompanied my husband to a work event, and I got that inevitable question, “And what do YOU do?” My answer – that I was home with a toddler – stopped the conversation cold. I got the message, loud and clear: to the world at large, there is nothing interesting about being a mom. Better keep that information to yourself and let the people who matter do the talking.
Of course, the work of raising a child DOES matter, and I am immensely proud of my daughter and the fact that she is secure in the knowledge that no matter what happens, she has a mother and father who are always there to support her.
I am also proud of things I have accomplished these 15 years at home that have little to do with her, especially this little blog I started a decade ago as a creative outlet – long before anyone was using the term “social media.” It has introduced me to a world of fabulous, interesting people who are doing fabulous, interesting things. It has led me to some incredible adventures that I never imagined: including an appearance in People magazine and the opportunity to cover a Presidential convention.
As a stay at home mom, I have reinvented myself as an automotive writer, a political pundit and a podcaster. But I did not arrive at any of these reinventions with any sort of plan: they just happened.
And now, I am at a crossroads. My blogging and other ventures don’t add much to the family purse. And now that my daughter doesn’t need me to be a presence 24 hours a day, what I really need to do is get back out into the world and earn a living. The problem is, regardless of what I have done these 15 years at home, the world still sees me as “just a mom.” And a 57-year-old one, at that.
I am finding re-entry hard. And I can’t see the way to get it done.
I don’t think I need to reinvent myself. But I think we all need to reinvent the world’s idea of the vibrancy, energy, wisdom and value of women who happen to have spent several years raising a family.
We are a force. And a natural resource being wasted. And that is a shame.