But I also think that sometimes, the best changes come from within.
I quit my job as a recreation therapist when my son was born eight years ago. At the time, though I was worried about being bored at home, I thought that I'd be constantly worried about him if I left him, even for a few hours (I had more energy for worrying in those days).
I did get bored, but not in the way I expected. It wasn't like there wasn't anything to do. It was that I had too much time, while doing all the motherhood and household tasks, alone with my thoughts, and I had no productive channels for those thoughts.
So I had to rediscover myself. And that's been a much greater gift than I imagined.
I kept my recreation therapy license for many years, just as an emergency measure, but I knew I didn't want to go back. I liked working with the residents, but I didn't feel like I could make the impact I wanted to or use my talents the way I wanted to. I wanted something creative, something that paid well enough to be worthwhile, and something that could make a difference in the world.
I filled those hours by learning what mattered to me. And when there weren't any spare hours, I'd get up early. It made all the difference in the world to my day if I could write, blog, or read. I felt as if parts of my soul were sighing in relief. "Oh, yes, we do love to write and create something out of nothing," it seemed to say, or, "That's right, these issues matter to other people, too, and we can do something about it."
Honestly, I don't think I would have gotten into writing or women's issues the way I have if I hadn't spent some time away from the working world. I needed those several years of trial and error to figure out what mattered most, and I had to find it in the quiet spaces that didn't seem to exist in the world of school or work. If I were to go back to school now, I certainly wouldn't study the same things I was interested in before the kids came along.
I also think that having children changed me, too. Once they were born, I had to consider what lessons I wanted them to learn and the legacy I wanted to leave for them. These little people changed my priorities.
Apparently I'm not alone in this. 95% of women don't want to return the same employer after having children. I don't know whether it's because their interests and priorities change or because they have less time available for work, but things become different somehow. And while it's often true that it's more difficult to be taken seriously as a working mother, I know this: parenting has a way of reshaping your values. Employers would do well to see how women, and especially mothers, could help their companies.
But I also think that parents would do well to embrace the changes that come with children. Allow your children to change you, because whether you fight it or not, your life will never be the same.
And that's not always a bad thing.