On Wednesday, Sept. 26, I went back to work full-time after being out of a job for two-and-a-half years. I am one of the nearly 2 million women who left the workforce during the pandemic and am just now returning to work (https://www.npr.org/2022/09/28/1125149612/women-are-returning-to-paid-work-after-the-pandemic-forced-many-to-leave-their-j).

In my case, I was laid off and my daughter’s daycare closed to non-essential workers. I was also halfway through my pregnancy with my second child. Lacking job prospects in an industry hit hard by the pandemic and fearing for the health of my pregnancy and of other family members, my husband and I opted not to send our daughter back to daycare when it reopened in the summer of 2020.

The last two-and-a-half years have been filled with joy as well as stress, tedium, and frustration. A study looking at data from 26 countries showed that women and people with children experienced some of the highest stress levels during the pandemic (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7537225/). Nevertheless, thanks to the support of my husband, in-laws, and parents, I was able to go back to school and eventually return to work part-time in a new field.

It was only when child care became available this fall that I could go back to work full-time. With a new job and new routines, there have been adjustments. However, I am grateful to be taking this next step in my career.

Looking back, I am proud of myself and of all of the moms who took care of their families during this difficult time.

Mary Christina Szafraniec
River Forest educator and resident

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