We are living in a world that is speaking a whole new language; the language of mothers who are living in the post-feminist age. While the women's movement brought radical changes in the career possibilities that are open to women today, it failed to recognize a fundamental truth. For women with children, being a mother is an essential part of their identity, and in the name of motherhood, many women will willingly curtail or alter their career's trajectories.

The traditional work world is, literally, at a loss for words Yet the attempt to define these personal decisions as sociological phenomena has left the traditional work world literally at a loss for words. How do you define the lawyer who took off five years to be at home, but returned to work with a vengeance once her children started school, only now she works as a patent writer? How do you define the stay-at-home mother who is scrambling to get back into the office now that her husband has been laid off? What do you say about the M.B.A turned journalist, or the psychologist who runs a job placement agency on the internet?

It seems like women return to the work force fundamentally altered by their years at home and they, in turn, are altering the workplace, beginning with the advent of a whole new language.

Flex-time refers to on-the-job hours that can be put in outside the office. One reporter for the NY Times bills these hours while working by laptop on the commuter train home. Parents want to be home by dinner-time and bed-time. Some parents even insist on being home by lunch-time. Flex-jobs refer to jobs that are inherently designed to accommodate these unique arrangements.

Parents want to be home by dinner time An off-ramp refers to a women's decision to stay home to raise her family, while an on-ramp refers to the decision to return to work. There is even a newly coined expression, the "hobby career," which refers to a career that firmly takes second place to the demands of family life. So while becoming a lawyer may have been her first choice for a career, our lawyer friend, who now returned to the work force after a five year hiatus at home, could call her new career in patent writing a hobby career.

However, I can't imagine anyone actually using the term hobby career to apply to their own choice for themselves. It seems like a term we would only use when speaking about someone else. To refer to a job as a hobby career is to demean it. It implies that someone is not serious about the work at hand; after all it is only a hobby. Hobby is a derogatory term when applied to career.

Consider instead the terminology the Torah uses to discuss these same concepts. Rather than demeaning them, the Torah praises women who seek out highly personalized work arrangements. The traditional song sung on Friday nights by a Jewish husband returning home from synagogue to his wife is called "Aishet Chayil" (A Woman of Valor). This song praises the ingenuousness of women who have sought non-traditional work arrangements. It speaks of the woman who works late into the night by candle light, and the woman who rises before dawn.

Women today are committed to working—on their own terms Today's women are serious about their priorities. They are serious about making decisions that promote and protect family life. That means being as equally committed to their quality of family life as they are to their career advancement. Modern women are committed to working, but to working on their own terms. This has brought them to confront the limits of traditional male-oriented work arrangements. As a result, they have discovered what the Torah has always known and recognized in women - that women and mothers have an innate ability to reinvent themselves, and to reinvent the world with them.

If these self-transformations require a whole new language for their employers, then we had better start rewriting that dictionary. Because children deserve the chance to be center-stage; they deserve to know that for the modern woman, motherhood is much more than a hobby.