Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hearth Beat Ex-Career Women Help Each Other

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hearth Beat Ex-Career Women Help Each Other

Article excerpt

Jill Proehl used to be a high-powered journalist. Now she's a high-powered mommy.

In the spring, Proehl, a former Chicago television producer, started the St. Louis chapter of FEMALE - Formerly Employed Mothers at the Leading Edge - a national organization for women who left paying jobs to work full time at home.

Stay-at-home mothers have to fight for respect, says Proehl, 30. When people ask the Arnold woman what she does for a living, she tells them she's a neurological engineer, responsible for stimulating the minds of her children - Lauren, 2, and Drew, 3 months.

Motherhood is the most intellectually stimulating job she has had. "You won't find me in my bathrobe at noon, watching soap operas and eating bonbons. I'm busy explaining to a 2-year-old how babies are born, why leaves change colors, and why this word sounds like this," Proehl said.

FEMALE's dozen or so mothers and their tots meet several times a week - such as a day at the park or a hayride or some other organized event. Once a month is mothers' night out - no children allowed.

Membership dues for FEMALE are $20 a year and include a monthly newsletter.

Being at home with a child can feel isolating to a woman who is used to having a web of co-workers. FEMALE provides necessary relief and release, says Chris Hamilton, 32, a former executive secretary from St. Peters.

"We'd go brain dead if we just talked to our 2-year-olds all day long," said Hamilton, whose son, Tommy, is 2. It's not always easy for tots to find playmates, either, she said. s Most of the children in her neighborhood are in day care.

FEMALE is a professional association for stay-at-home mothers, quips Proehl. "We ask each other questions the way you would ask a co-worker about your job. Like, what did you do when your child projectile-vomited? If I did not have the camaraderie of other women, I would probably go crazy."

They also confer on important issues such as losing financial independence, feeling guilty about not being able to do it all and keeping their marriages fresh. …

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