Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring is a state of mind

Snow is falling again, a scene from midwinter, not mid-March. We went out to dinner, and the deliberately quaint town center looked like a Christmas postcard, twinkling lights shining through the heavy snowfall. A slow drive home along country roads, an image from a Robert Frost poem. Spring is a state of mind, I told myself early this afternoon, as the first flakes began to fall. But by this evening Spring had vanished, and it is as though the calendar has flipped back several months, back to the heart of winter. And I must admit it . . . it is beautiful. The heavy drifts, the sense of silence, the sky lit with the purple luminescence of reflected snowlight—still beautiful, even though the winter months have dragged and sapped at the souls of nearly everyone I know.

Still, the spring butterfly exhibit has returned to our local botanical gardens (housed in the tropical conservatory, of course!), and I will by dyeing Easter eggs with Bean-girl tomorrow. We may be agnostic atheists, but that doesn’t mean we can’t participate in all the secular fun associated with religious holidays.

Yesterday I went to a chapter meeting of my local mothers’ group; the topic was “Working It Out: Sharing experiences as mothers working out of the home, working from the home, full time, part-time, or working as stay-at-home moms.” Five women had agreed to serve as panelists willing to speak about their experiences in depth. All the women in attendance were asked to say something about themselves and their work experiences; we are all a very diverse lot! If I had permitted myself to hope for some magic bullets of knowledge and insight that would resolve all my anxieties and show me the way to eventually transition back to a meaningful career, well… I would have been sorely disappointed, of course. Can I say that I actually did kinda hope for those magical insights? Instead, I heard some interesting stories, a lot of very interesting perspectives, and the angst and sharing that always comes out when you closet a bunch of mothers together in one room. What struck me is that even the women who seemed happiest as stay-at-home moms expressed anxiety at becoming “unemployable” and unable to re-enter the workforce. Even those who didn’t particularly like their previous careers hoped to eventually go back to work—and to find new, more fulfilling careers the second time around. Work is so ingrained in our society—it really seems unthinkable (for most of us) to never again have a work identity. I know that I am very susceptible to this. I derived so much of my identity from my work that it was and has been very difficult to give up. I have really felt “at sea” for this past year and a half. I am making some decisions now, resolutions that may or may not be kept. But resolutions that will hopefully help point me toward what I want, and what I need.

The growing light of this season breeds new energy and life. Even as snow falls this weekend, the hours of sunlight will continue to increase. The ancient symbolic significance of Easter is not lost even on a crotchety skeptical rationalist like me. I do have that poetic side.

Welcome, Spring. Even during a snowstorm.

10 comments:

Mad Hatter said...

I was wondering...do you think stay-at-home moms really want to go back to work, or is it that they crave a separate life of their own outside of home?

Would it help you to blog about the research you did? I'd certainly be interested in reading about it!

hypoglycemiagirl said...

I hope you figure out what you want and need.

I have realized that these magical moments of insight rarely appears. Seems to be just down to hard work and deciding what to do. But then also keep an open mind in case life opens up other possibilities or closes those you had planned to follow.

ScienceGirl said...

Beautiful post! Snow may be falling now, but I am sure spring will come, and you'll find your way back to shore. Best wishes for new doors opening up for you!

CC said...

Happy spring. :)

The bean-mom said...

Mad hatter--Interesting question. It's all intertwined. After all, going back to work is probably the easiest, most socially acceptable way to carve out a separate life outside the home. I suppose hobbies and volunteerism are another way; although I also think volunteering can often become very much like "work" (just without the pay!)

I don't know if I'd feel safe blogging details about my previous research, other than to say it was in cell biology. I think I probably will do more blogging on general science topics in the future...

Hypoglycemia girl--thanks. I actually tend to have a lot of little epiphanies--but they never last long. Poof! and all those magical insights disappear...

Sciencegirl-- my "way back to shore." Lovely. Thank you.

cc--Happy spring as well!

ScienceMama said...

*sigh*

your writing always makes me swoon.

post-doc said...

I will add my voice to the chorus and say this is written exquisitely well. It's truly lovely to read.

The bean-mom said...

Thanks, Sciencemama!

And oh, wow, I got a comment from Katie at Minor Revisions! Katie, I'm feeling star-struck--no joke. I've been lurking on your blog for a while, and I think your writing is always so beautiful.

barb michelen said...
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TheMusingMommy said...

It seems, at times, that as mothers our identities get lost. But you are still you. :)