Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where I Wish I Was

Posted by Anonymous.

I am so disappointed in myself. And so jealous of her. We are the same age. We both graduated from high school the same year, went to college and both have a bachelor's degree. She makes $50,000 a year and I make $14.00 an hour. I feel like a failure. That should be me. I'm just as smart, just as capable as her. The difference? I have 2 kids. The position she was given over me requires her to travel 75% of the time. I am not in a position to do that because of my children. I cannot be away from home for extended periods of time and overnight. I love my children so why do I resent them and feel like they are holding me back from a promotion? When I see her in the office (she has an office with a door and I work FOR her from a cubicle), I feel insufficient. I doubt myself. She is going on to get her master's. I can barely afford $200 a week in daycare, I can't even consider going back to school. She immediately got a job in her field of study after college and has 7+ years experience. Me? I worked at a zoo, then for a graphics company, then I had a baby and another baby. Now that I actually have a job relevant to my degree I have zero experience. If I hadn't married young, if I hadn't started a family so soon, if I had chosen a career path and stuck to it - I could be where she is. My husband has a good job, but does not even have a college education and he makes $20 an hour. My self esteem is in the toilet. I know I can't compare the joy of having two beautiful, healthy children to having a career, but I will be fully honest and say I wish I was where she is instead of where I am. And I get even more depressed about feeling that way.


Anonymous said...

Well, the grass is always greener, right? Can I tell you that I'm working on my bachelor's and I have a career position, and I'm well situated, but scared to absolute death that I am watching the opportunity to be a mother pass me by?

I think it's perfectly okay and normal for you to have some resentment about where you are versus where you want to be. Even to the point that you resent your kids. Kids are a huge sacrifice, a huge pull on your time, money and energy. I don't know how you could get through life without the occasional bout of resentment.

I hope that you find some peace and that you give yourself permission to pursue what will make you happy. Does your company have tuition reimbursement? Go back and get your masters. I know a lot of people who take all online programs though excellent established schools.

Just please know that sometimes it's awfully lonely and empty behind that office door.

flutter said...

I imagine she sees your children and her heart drops.

your children are your wealth

Kate said...

"like they are holding me back from a promotion".... they are. It's true.

But it's only right-now, that they're holding you back. You'll be able to extend your career later, without interruptions for having kids at 40, when you will be tired and walking away from an established career... you'll be developing your career after the kids are grown, with more confidence that you'll be able to move along without major interruptions.

That's my story, having had kids young and walked away from a doctorate because of them, and I'm sticking to it.

Anonymous said...

Ease up on yourself. Sounds like you're fairly young, so try to keep things in perspective. THERE IS TIME. It also sounds like your children are young-ish. If so, I promise it will get better. You'll have more opportunity to do things for yourself and your career in the future when they get older. I was like you sort of...working at a pretty boring job with two kids while my brothers-in-law, who were childless at the time, travelled all over the place, had fabulous plans for New Year's Eve, and always dressed to the nines. Now, some of them have their own little ones, and mine are getting old enough to watch themselves. We're going out and having fun, and they're home exhausted from a sleepless night or dealing with a sick kid. Everyone gets their turn. Yours will come soon enough. Best thing for you to do is focus on your job and yes, work towards a career as much as is possible, but enjoy your kids too. Before you know it, they'll be in high school and you'll have time to pursue your dreams. And maybe by that time, your boss(?)/"she" will be stuck at home with little ones and you'll be doing the traveling for her.

Fran Loosen said...

I have a girlfriend who is up for my dream job and learned about it through the job description I sent to her. I figured if I couldn't get it, then I wanted her to have it.

See, she stayed in the game when I left work to stay home for 3 years. And, she has twins and a partner who is supportive of her work. She's younger than I am but has leapfrogged me in work. Makes me really regret the decisions that I made...decisions that I think I would have made differently if I'd really been able to forecast the consequences.

I feel for you, sister. It's a long road, but I think if you can map the career you want (which is difficult, I know) then you will have milestones to achievement. Good luck, you're not alone

Anonymous said...

It's all choices - I'm 38 and just had my daughter, and it's killing my career because my husband travels up to 90% of the time- someone has to be home/around home to pick her up and take care of her. It's a complete drag a lot of the time, and I KNOW it's killing me professionally-- but on the other hand I get to see all the smiles and all the firsts and you know what, how much she wants to be with me is worth all the money I'm missing out on (most of the time anyway).
I know it stinks, but jeez, it's sorta "you made your bed..."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the replies and support.

I asked myself the question "if I could choose between my dream job or having my son and daughter, which would I choose?" My heart took less than a second to answer that no amount of money could replace their smiles and giggles. I feel so guilty when I have to call in to work because I have to stay home with a sick kid, my babysitter is on vacation, or so I can attend the school play but in the long run being there for my kids is a thousand more times important than a bigger paycheck, right?
Deep down I really do want to be home with them in the evenings instead of traveling every week and bringing home more money. Money doesn't make my kids happy, mommy playing with them makes them happy.

Anonymous said...

Yes, being there for your kids IS important - and being there for YOURSELF is important too. My mom was there for us - and now, twenty years after her children moved out, she is still more of a smother than a mother. It's important to have some sort of balance - she completely sacrificed her own dreams and individual needs, and now she's a sad and lonely lady.

I thought flutter's observation was kind of funny though - not every woman wants to have kids, and it's so strange that so many people, especially women, think that all women want children. Or seriously believe that you aren't "fulfilled" until babies are in the picture. It's simply not true.

I think your children are lucky to have a mother who thinks and suffers and aches over her decisions - acknowledgment of your jealousy/human frailty is huge. And hugely important.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy can I relate to this post. I'm adding you to my Google Reader, I appreciate your honesty.

Anonymous said...

OOOOOH I see how this blog works now. I may be submitting some stuff.

Dating Trooper said...

I hear you. I have that same jealousy, but both ways -- so I feel doubly screwed. I'm 35 1/2 (the half matters these days) and unmarried, though now in a relationship that might lead to marriage (but I've thought that before so I don't believe it til I see it anymore). I am mid-career and, although I love my job, make little money as it is in the public sector. When I get my college alumni magazine I want to jump out of the window as I read about so-and-so being a surgeon, and that other chick a professor, etc. It seems everyone makes more money than me.

Then there's all my friends with husbands and kids. That's also what I want (far more than a career actually). And every month that ticks by, I grow more panicked that I might miss my window.

So the grass on both sides of every fence seem greener to me. At the same time, I'm still kinda happy. Strange, huh?

Anonymous said...

I got married at 21, two weeks after graduating from college. I had my daughter at 23 and my son at 27. I have had a few part-time jobs, and I've even (almost) earned a master's degree, all with the thought that I needed to stay sharp and be ready to jump back into the career world (Who am I kidding, "jump back in"? I never even started.).

But every time I think I'm ready to take the next step, I find that I am unable or unwilling or both. My children most definitely hold me back from whatever professional accomplishments I might have achieved, in the same way that my short, stocky legs held me back from being a prima ballerina. My daughter and son are two of the Truths of my existence, as inescapable as they are wonderful.

A high-powered career just isn't going to happen for me, not now, maybe not ever. I'm finding ways to make peace with that, to love and honor the woman that I actually am instead of longing for the woman I might have become. But it still sucks sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I love this comment
"A high-powered career just isn't going to happen for me, not now, maybe not ever. I'm finding ways to make peace with that, to love and honor the woman that I actually am instead of longing for the woman I might have become. But it still sucks sometimes."

Thank you for sharing this, I hope I find a way to make peace with who I am instead of who I think I could have been.

Anonymous said...

I had a 25 year career going when I walked away to raise my son. Best thing I ever did. I've had the career, I've had the kid. Kid wins every time.

KimAZ said...

Remember that what she has now does not preclude what you can have in the future. It feels like her success and your perceived failure are related. THEY ARE NOT. You were absolutely right to have your kids first and not risk facing age-related infertility (hi! me here). You WILL have success and you WILL raise decent human beings. You are already a success for working towards both.

Anonymous said...

I'm like your friend: childless and with a career I adore, which involves a fair bit of travel and wouldn't be parent-friendly. I haven't ever wanted kids; in fact, I'm contemplating getting myself fixed so I won't have to worry about birth control any more.

That said, I love kids, I love parents and I'm joyful for my friends and colleagues with families. The world needs all kinds. It sounds like you feel your status is somehow lower in general, because it's lower on the org chart. For what it's worth, I don't feel that way about my colleagues or my employees. I want people to be happy: really happy. That's the only status that matters.

I hope that whatever further choices you make, happiness will be yours.

Pollyanna said...

All I can say is: this too shall pass. Remember that your kids won't be little forever and what seems impossible now may be within reach in just a few short years. It is amazing how much easier things become when the kids get to be school aged. I just got home from a week long work trip to Denver. 4 years ago it would have seemed impossible to go to the grocery store alone, so you can imagine my happy surprise that I was able to get that far away from home and nobody died! :)

It's okay to play the what if game ever once in a while as long as you don't get stuck there long term. Eveyrthing will work out just fine,of that I am certain.

Unknown said...

I am getting my own classroom at 40 this year; a first time teacher. I had the kids first. It wasn't how I planned it, but its all good. The big money isn't in my future, but a little more stability is, and I still get the time with my kids when it matters.
Make sure to really think about what you want and plan for it now, because those babies will grow up and you will have time to make those plans happen.

ShannanB said...

I would guess that she is just as envious of you as you are of her and it is normal. My girlfriend is the ultimate SAHM - the kind of mother that I always wished I could be. Unfort. I cannot afford to stay home so I work. Imagine my surprise, being envious of her, when her husband told me how envious she was of me???

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I found this blog off the BBC News piece about the surge in women bloggers.... how disappointing to read that the new wave is just more of the same old same old, ie women looking at women and condemning each other for frankly spurious reasons.

Imagine you and your colleague were both male, one a dad, one not - and then you'll see that any perceptions you have about the kids holding you back, any resentment of her, is based on society's norm and on the way women CHOOSE to prioritise their kids.

This women is not your enemy, believe me, and neither of you has the right in a free country to look at the other and feel like your choice was ultimately better or wiser - but as long as women are busy competing and comparing like this, we will stay as the second-rate sex in our home and family lives.

Sorry for the rant but this really bugs me, and as a childless woman (so far) I see this pitching of mums against non-mothers every single day.

Anonymous said...

so I didn't read all the comments so if this is redundant I apologize but my situation is similar I got married young I have 2 small children and I have a possible career but its not hear yet and I still on and off have to wait tables to get us by and to get my husband through school and I have some very very successful friends and I envy the travel the vacations the clothes the freedom etc...etc... but in the end no career will morn them no one will really care how good they were at there job but my kids will remember me when they hear the songs I sang and the games we played and they will be good men because I took the time to love them really really love them! there are many ways in this world to be valuable not just one. I tried to remember what the desiderata says. Never compare yourself to others there will always be greater and lesser than you. though it is harder some days than others.

Anonymous said...

This is what I know for sure, ok?

You will NEVER regret being 'held back' in your career because of your children. At some point, they grow up and away from is then that you will shine and honey, shine you will! Please trust that. Right now, continue to let your main focus be on your children. That is something you will NEVER regret and will NEVER have a second chance at. Your career? You can wow them now (at the sake of neglecting your family) or you can wow them later. You'll always have later when it comes to your career. That is just not so with children. I would not tell you this if I knew it were not the honest truth. =)

Anonymous said...

Did you ever pretend to step inside her shoes?

Maybe shes lonely
Maybe she longs for children
Maybe she cries herself to sleep at night because she feels that her life is nothing compared to YOURS
She might just be putting on a fake smile and fake happiness

She might actually be really sad and lay in bed at night looking at photographs of the good old days when she WAS truly happy.

You never know.

My friends at highschool were all jealous of me. I was popular, smart and full of ideas. They never knew that I had a father who abused me and my family and I was forced to work in the fields every day after school for him. No one knew.

They thought I had it good.

Stephanie said...

In my opinion, YOU are the one who is fulfilled.
Imagine how lonley she must be, with no one to go home to. No little arms reaching to her to hug her, no little dirty faces smiling at her, no one to say I LOVE YOU to must be incredibally lonley to be her....

Anonymous said...

OK, while I like the picture of the little dirty smiling faces and everything, isn't it a bit condescending to think that the people without kids are by necessity lonely and unfulfilled? Loneliness comes in a lot of flavours. Just like ice cream. So does happiness. And it isn't like there's a finite amount to go around. The original poster and her coworker could BOTH be happy, given time, luck and support.

Anonymous said...

You know she feels the same way about you! I'm 28, single, and make 50 grand a year. I want a husband and babies. And sex....anytime I want it!! Screw the career.