Success Stories of Return-to-Work Moms

For many stay-at-home moms, trying to enter or re-enter the workforce can be a daunting experience. One of the biggest obstacles many of these women face is fear due to a lack of confidence about their abilities: Many stay-at-home moms feel that they will have little to offer potential employers.

On the contrary, maternal experience can be a major asset, claim authors Carole Fishman Cohen and Vivian Steir Rabin in their book, Back on the Career Track: Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work. "You'll handle a disgruntled employee much more easily than you might have in the past," Cohen and Rabin say. "You'll probably be able to keep more balls in the air than you did pre-baby days." Plus, with maternity leaves behind them and fewer spousal relocations to deal with, working mothers are at a more stable phase in their lives than younger women.

The message in Back on the Career Track is that not only can women re-enter the workforce, but they can do so with great success. As evidence, the authors cite some famous stay-at-home moms who revived their careers after having children. (We found a few more.) Check out the famous women below who chose career AND family.

Kirstie Alley, Annette Bening, Teri Hatcher

These three actresses each took some time off of successful acting careers to raise children. Since reentering the work force, Alley has become the Jenny Craig spokesperson, Bening has earned an Academy Award nomination, and Hatcher has won a Golden Globe Award and published a best-selling book.

Brenda Barnes

Barnes left her position as president and CEO of PepsiCo North America to be home with her family. Six years later, however, she became president and COO at Sara Lee Corporation, and within nine months she was promoted to CEO. Today, Barnes is ranked sixth among Fortune magazine's list of the 50 most powerful women in business.

Geraldine Ferraro

The only female major-party candidate for vice president, Ferraro began her career as a second grade teacher by day and law student by night. After taking a 13-year break to raise her children, she began working at the Queens County district attorney's office before her election to Congress in 1978. She served three terms before running alongside Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale in the 1984. Ferraro has since written two books and remains an active political figure.

J.K. Rowling

Although working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International when the idea for a story of a young boy attending wizardry school came to her in 1990, Rowling did not complete the manuscript for Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone until 1994. By that time, she was an unemployed single mom who wrote during her daughter's nap times. The novel became the basis for a multimillion-dollar franchise.

Nancy Pelosi

Recently elected as the first female Speaker of the House, it is hard to believe Pelosi began her career as a stay-at-home mom. Pelosi broke into politics slowly, working at first as a volunteer for the Democratic Party, hosting house parties and going door-to-door in between raising her five children. In 1987, she was elected to the House of Representatives for California's Eighth District

Paula Deen

Not only did the restaurant owner, cookbook author and Food Network TV star wait until after her two sons were fully grown to launch her career, but she also overcame a crippling case of agoraphobia in order to do so. Determined to take charge of her life and knowing that cooking was the one thing she could do very well, Paula decided to open a catering business. In 1989, at the age of 42, she launched The Bag Lady with the help of her sons. A year and a half later, she was able to open her own restaurant, The Lady & Sons. The rest, as Paula might say, is history, y'all.

Copyright 2007

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