Specific Situations > Young Widowed Parents

Working single parents w/young children

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It's been awhile since I've posted. I recently was contemplating between accepting my "dream job" and the job that's "best for the kids" I was fortunate to have several job offers, but it also brought on a whole new problem set...and guilt.

My 'dream job' is working for an incredible, reputable doctor, co-workers I love, in family practice--my favorite BUT, the hours are not super 'kid friendly' I work 4 ten hour days. I have an elementary child, a toddler, and a soon to be one year old. By the time I pick up the kids from daycare my littlest eats dinner, gets a bath, and is super tired and ready for bed, my middle child is up until 8pm so I get a few hours with the other two, but, by the time I get home I am completely exhausted so I'm not the usual run around playful mom. I'm more of the play for five minutes and I am so beat I am couch bound.

The more kid friendly job, that I accepted, but later decided that I wasn't prepared to pass up my dream job (which makes me feel a bit selfish). With the other job I would've been working in pediatrics, which is not my cup of tea, I would've only worked 2/3 long days a week with a full benefit pkg instead of 4 days/week and I'd have a lot more time with the kids. My mother in law was really pushing me to take the part-time position, which I initially accepted, but two weeks before the start date I reneged and took the position I wanted.

Sorry for the long post. I guess I just feel conflicted, I make a good living so I don't need to work full-time, but I love being a nurse and working in family practice--love my career. I sacrificed time with my young children in a one parent household to take the job that I really wanted. My mother in law is constantly trying to persuade me to go for a part-time gig or if it gets to be "too much" to resign. This makes me feel even worse, because I know she thinks that I made the wrong decision and I'm a selfish mom because of it. I guess it bothers me, because I think maybe she's right.

I don't know, I'm just kinda bummed, when I get home late from work and my time is so limited with my kids, the guilt sets in. I wonder if I made the right decision. If I was too selfish choosing what I wanted VS what's best for the kids. 'They're only little once' a phrase my MIL uses often. I have a great relationship with my MIL otherwise, it's just this issue that we don't agree.

The hardest job, hands down is parenting. I am constantly wondering if I'm doing the right thing, if I'm going to regret what I'm doing if I should've waited to work full-time until my youngest was in kindergarten.

What are your thoughts on this. Do any of you feel guilty working full-time in a single parent household? Dating and my social life have completely fallen to the wayside, I figured since I took the job I wanted and sacrificed time with the kids, then my weekend social life should be sacrificed to dedicate my complete attention to my kids.

Parenting is so hard. WIDOWED parenting is even harder.

Kate -
I am a pediatrician. I love my job. I work 3 long days per week and take call equally with the group - every 10th day. This is the same schedule that I had before dh died. It was our choice for us both to work part time to have more family time after we didn't have this for so long during our training. I often now feel rushed in the evenings to get kids to activities and dinner and family time.

I think bc I'm part time the mom guilt is less.  I am confident that doing what I love makes me a happier person and therefore a better mom when I am home. I am not the stay-at-home type. Just not me.

They are only little once. They deserve a mom that is as happy and fulfilled in as many ways as possible. It's ok to give yourself permission to do that.

I'm also a career woman; being a career woman does not mean you have to put yourself or your children aside.  In my experience, it just means temporary compromises and learning to be forgiving of yourself.  My daughter is a bit older but with lines of communication open and my making a point always to find time for her, she knows we're in it together.  I agree with NKofD, if you are doing work that you love, that fulfills you (not to say that it won't be stressful or test you), then you will be modeling courage, modeling strength, modeling self-sufficiency, while also modeling love, honesty and comfort for your children.  The balance is tough and there are days that it is not at all in sync but overall a satisfied you means you can be there in the most important ways for them.  Good for you for taking on the challenge!  I admire your courage.  In solidarity!

I am so sorry to hear that you have been struggling with so much guilt lately.  I had a long battle with some similar issues.  I think in the end you have to find a balance that works best for you.  It will never be perfect but you had to find the best fit for your family.  In the end if you weren't happy in the part time position that could impact your quality time with the little ones too.  It is exhausting to go to a job you don't like even if it is less hours.  You deserve a job that makes you the best momma you can be and that is different for everyone. 

If you are close to your MIL, maybe you can talk to her and explain that when you are challenged and fulfilled at work it allows you to bring your best self home for the kids.  Let her know that you need to give this a shot and that it is hard so you need her support and not her guilt.  I found that when I went from full time, to temporary stay at home mom, to part time there was always someone who seemed to disagree.  But they haven't walked in my shoes.  They can't tell me what is best for my family.  Sometimes I can't even do that.  Try to give yourself some slack and let some guilt go because it is really hard and you are doing great.  You obviously care tremendously about your little ones and at the end of the day they will know you love them. 

When I have to make decisions like this for my son and me, I often think of the emergency instructions on a plane. In the event you have put the oxygen mask on, you are supposed to put yours on first, then your child?s. You have to make sure you are making a decision that is going to make you happy in the long run. If you are dissatisfied and working in a job that you resent, you are going to end up bringing that home.

The fact that you are worrying about your kids, just means you?re a good mom. I think you are doing the right things.


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