I was at the doctor’s office and bored out of my mind. I’d managed to keep myself entertained for the first few minutes, but the wait was getting ridiculous. I looked around the room and saw my medical chart left open.
Curiosity got the best of me. I realize it’s a big no-no but I took a peek at my chart and to my horror the words “ELDERLY MOTHER” were written on top in big bold letters. I was stunned. Elderly at age 35? How could that be?
It turns out the cutoff age between a “normal” pregnancy and a “geriatric” or “elderly” pregnancy was — you guessed it — 35. From a reproductive standpoint, I was considered old.
Like many other women, pregnancy was a challenge. IVF soon became the clearest option, leading to the birth of two healthy twin boys a few years later.
The plan all along was for me to go back to work. There was no flex time, no opportunities for remote work, no summer Fridays back then… just long hours and a very long Los Angeles commute. My husband and I talked it over, and we both agreed it was right for me to stay home. This was not an easy decision. What I thought was going to be the typical three-month maternity turned into a 12 years absence from the workforce.
Flash forward 15 years to the pandemic. I’m now 50. My family and I had just moved across the country to Maine when I knew it was time to go back to work. I knew no one, had no connections, and had a resume with what I assumed was the largest employment gap in history. How was this ever going to work? Would I have to explain the massive gap at every interview? Would I even get the chance or would every one of my applications end up in the trash before I could plead my case?
My head was spinning with a barrage of self-deprecating thoughts.
“Slow your roll, inner critic,” I said to myself. “Turning 50 is not a career death sentence.”
It can be a time to reassess, and find your marketable skills. So, what if I can’t Twitch or Tik Tok (yet!), I’m going to get back out there and make things happen.
I started applying for jobs. I locked down phone calls and Zoom interviews — then a novel concept to me. I wound up interviewing with this media company that seemed on my level.
My employment gap? Total non-issue. They liked my background and liked me. Over the course of a week, we spent time together — aligning on every possible topic that felt important to me. They said my work ethic and personality made me a natural fit. I agreed and got the job.
Now, I’m here at Dirigo Collective doing things that I haven’t done before, like writing this blog post. I work for millennials. Yup, millennials. Lots of people will give our millennial brethren grief, but not me. My supervisor said to me recently that he believed in me. What an empowering thing to hear. And, you know what, I also believe in myself.
So, here’s to being a 50 year old woman, starting the next chapter, and a new career. There’s so much more to come!
If your are looking to reenter the workforce here are some helpful resources: