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Moms Find Support in Transition from Work to Home

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RALEIGH — The transition for working women who choose to stay home after having a baby can be traumatic. A group in southern Wake County is trying to help mothers retain their identity.

Dinnertime at the Schoonmaker house is an adventure. There are three hungry mouths to feed; one-year-old Michael, two-and-half-year-old Keri, and four-year-old Adam.

"We don't actually set the table, we just put everything out," Stefanie Schoonmaker explains of the nightly ritual.

Schoonmaker manages her family and a part-time job.

"You can try and plan, sometimes it doesn't always work. You have to take each day as it comes," she says.

Schoonmaker is not alone. But she has the support of a group calledFEMALE, which stands for Formerly Employed Mothers At The Leading Edge.

In just one year, the southern Wake County chapter has attracted more than 80 members.

"The majority of our topics are on womanhood, how we can keep ourselves, even though we are a mother, we're more than just being a mother," says group leader Stacey Sherman.

For Schoonmaker, the group has given her something she does not usually get -- time for herself.

"Support and social interaction, a girls' night out without the children is kind of nice," she says.

The other members of FEMALE could not agree more. The organization has 6,200 members in 160 chapters worldwide.