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What about me?


Sherie Holder-Olutayo

What about me?

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“If I had to live all over again, I would do certain things differently.”
This sentiment was uttered by some stay-at-home mums, who are carving out new identities and lives for themselves now that their children are all grown up.
These women made the decision voluntarily to stay home and raise their children, which they did quite successfully. They had gone through the phases of child-rearing,  from potty-training to puberty, to secondary school and beyond. All their children were now grown, attending university or about to go off to college, but these women had one similar complaint:  What about me?These women had given the best years of their lives to their husbands and children. They’d watched their men get second and third degrees while they sacrificed careers for the sake of their families. It wasn’t that they were unhappy, but perhaps they felt a little short-changed. After all their kids were now grown and didn’t need them as much anymore. These women were trying to get back into the workforce and in one instance start her own studies. But they all felt time had passed them by.
Maxine, an accountant left her thriving career after her second child to stay at home.
“I left work because of my children and the problems that I was having with my hand,” she said. “I made the decision to come out and be at home. I am not sorry or resentful, but I wished I had maintained contacts in my field. Now when I want to get back into the field, I’m not quite sure how to do that anymore.”   
In an effort to ease her entry Maxine had taken some accounting courses to help bridge the work experience gap in her resume, but admitted still feeling unsure of her future. The fear that many stay-at-home mums have about reentering the workforce  is understandable. With a changing workforce technologically, and competing with younger people for jobs, it can be a little daunting.
“We as women and mothers always have to forbear. I watched my husband go off to study his Master’s in Canada. He left and I had to be there with the children,” said Lorna. “It was something he wanted to do and he just did it. I guess he felt he could do it because he knew that I would be holding down the fort at home.”
Lorna, like Maxine now has grown children that she is proud of. But there are moments when she feels she has advanced their lives, including her husband, at the expense of her own. “I put everything into my family, even looking after his children that he had before we got married,” Lorna revealed. “There were places we wanted to go as a couple, things I wanted to do that I never did, and a lot of challenges that come with a blended family that I never prepared for. If I had to live all over again, I would do certain things differently.”
Sheila also concurs with this statement. With four kids now grown, she’s now doing something she wanted to for years, attend university. But what gives her hope is the encouragement she gets from her children to complete her studies.
“I’m doing now at 45. I raised my children and I wouldn’t change the way I did it,” Sheila said. “But I’m 45 and I’m now at university, but I guess it’s better than nothing.”
Someone once said that being a full-time mother is one of the highest-salaried jobs since the payment is pure love. Sheila, Lorna and Maxine will definitely agree with this statement. While these women wouldn’t change any of the time they gave to their children, they find themselves trying to forge new identities now that their children have outgrown them.
“You live your life for your family,” Maxine said, “but I never thought I’d lose myself in the process.”

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