Full-time mothers find fellowship, support within FEMALE chapter

July 15, 1996|By Diane E. Otts | Diane E. Otts,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Just a generation or two ago, women were expected to stay home with their children. Now economic forces and lifestyle choices have made at-home mothers so uncommon that Elkridge resident Lea Fleming says, "My neighborhood is like a ghost town during the day."

To help overcome the isolation of being a full-time mother, the 28-year-old woman joined FEMALE -- Formerly Employed Mothers at the Leading Edge -- a year and a half ago. The national nonprofit group supports women who are dealing with the transition from paid employment to at-home motherhood.

Fleming and Catonsville resident Kim Reeves now lead FEMALE's Southwest Baltimore chapter, which has about 40 members from Columbia, Elkridge, Ellicott City, Arbutus and Catonsville.

The chapter was founded four years ago by journalist Kim Schmulowitz, 32, of Catonsville, who likens the group to a professional society for women who stay at home.

At-home mothers "don't have the support in the community like we used to," Schmulowitz said. "We often don't have anyone home next door, our mothers across town or an aunt 10 minutes away."

Members of the group come from such fields as engineering, nursing, education and sales. Fleming left a nine-year position as controller for a plumbing supply company to stay at home with her first son, who is now 4.

The group meets twice a month for businesslike but friendly mothers-only meetings that feature group discussions or guest speakers. Topics have included overcoming the loss of respect for at-home mothers, resources for re-entering the job market and even ideas for children's birthday parties.

In addition to the meetings, the chapter organizes play groups, baby-sitting cooperatives, family holiday parties, picnics and a semiannual mothers' retreat. It also provides meals and baby-sitting for members in crisis and help Meals On Wheels deliver hot lunches to the homebound.

Information: Lea Fleming at 379-2805.

Pub Date: 7/15/96

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