Reflections on Identity

Back to Work After a Long Hiatus

Acclimating to my new job, schedule, sense of purpose

Laura Friedman Williams
7 min readFeb 12, 2023

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After two decades as a stay-home mom, I recently started working full-time outside my home again. Well, not really outside my home. The job is remote so I’m actually home more than ever, but still — it’s a paying job and I spend most of my day on the computer and phone, not doing the things I used to do, like bake banana bread as soon as the bananas start turning black or cook elaborate dinners to prove that I was worth what it cost to have me stay home.

I miss the care with which I used to meticulously fold laundry, pressing each warm item to my face to inhale the fresh scent and then smoothing it into precise lines. I long for the days when I could visit Trader Joe’s at non-rush hour times, lingering in the aisles for what now seems like days as I debated if the newest pumpkin spice muffin mix was going to taste homemade or artificial.

Oh, the time I spent — it amazes me to think back as I now toss random bags of vegetables into my cart and hurriedly pile folded laundry into stacks that teeter precariously high because it’s only done when my daughter has no clean pants left. In the entry hall are scattered boxes containing items that seemed essential when I ordered them late at night on Amazon but now can’t be bothered to open, newspapers still rolled up and fastened by the rubber bands with which they were delivered, and mail — I can’t talk about that without breaking into a sweat. My daughter’s two recent surgeries and two visits to the emergency room have resulted in a slew of medical bills and insurance statements it would take hours and stamina to analyze.

Mostly, I miss regularly seeing and talking to friends, having two-hour lunches in which we catch up on each other’s lives and kids, going to Pilates classes and then coffee, walking home with a luxurious amble I didn’t know was a privilege until it was gone.

I have adapted to my new schedule, in which I drop my youngest daughter at the bus stop for school, run home to squeeze in a quick workout and shower, contemplate getting “dressed up” in jeans and a sweater but invariably settle for sweats instead, and then drink my coffee, now cold, at my desk…

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Laura Friedman Williams

Author of AVAILABLE: A Very Honest Account of Life After Divorce (Boro/HarperUK June ‘21; Harper360 May ‘21). Mom of three, diehard New Yorker.