Many of the parents I know spend 99 percent of their time divided between working and taking care of their family. If you really love your job, maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. Work becomes your social outlet, your creative outlet, your intellectual challenge, etc.
But what if you hate what you do?
I received the following letter from a mom in Connecticut—we’ll call her Constance because she asked me not to use her real name—who’s having serious regrets about her choice of career.
…I just Googled, “how can I prevent my nervous breakdown,” and stumbled upon your blog. Thank you for sharing what you went through.
Currently, I’m a teacher. I live in Connecticut, so I make decent money at it. I mean, I live in a small cape and drive a used Prius. I’m not rolling in cash, but I’m able to live fairly well. I certainly don’t make what people with master’s degrees in other fields (such as business or economics) make.
The problem is, I sort of hate it. Teaching, that is. I majored in music (undergrad) and then didn’t know what to do afterward. I feel stupid for this, but I was 17 when I made that choice. After graduation, I was too scared to try and make it in New York City, so I moved home to Connecticut and got certified to teach.
When my job is rewarding, it can be amazing. However, when it is bad, it is worse than I feel I should have to accept.
I teach in an inner-city school where the majority of the children have tough home lives. I have almost no administrative support, and the children can be really mean. There is a point where feeling sorry for myself overrides feeling sorry for them. I feel foolish saying that it hurts me to be called a “whore” and to be told “I hope your baby dies,” while pregnant, when the people who said these things to me are 10 years old or younger. But it does hurt. A lot.
The worst part is that I’m not allowed to hate teaching. When I tell people what I do, the response is usually, “Oh, how nice!”
Teachers are villainized in the media. We make too much money (according to Donald Trump!). We have tons of vacation time! How can we complain?
For the record, I’d rather work every day and like what I do, or at least not hate it so much that I cry and break out in hives.
I want to just give up. The problem is, I can’t. I have a child. My husband works at a daycare center and doesn’t make very much money. Without my income, we’d lose our house. I can’t seem to find another job. I just spent half an hour scouring the internet to try and determine whether or not my medical insurance would cover a stint in a mental institution, because I can’t stand the thought of going back to work…
What do you do when you hate your job, but can’t afford to quit? Have any readers out there made a mid-life career change, after they became parents? How did you go about it?
Or have you thought about switching careers, but decided to reconcile yourself to what you do instead? How do you make peace with the choices you’ve made?