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Do You Use Your Kids as an Excuse? Knock It Off!

I recently made the decision to go part-time at my day job in order to have more time to pursue a career in freelance writing. This was a decision months in the making with much hemming and hawing and dragging of feet. I was working a full day at the office and then putting in six hours of writing at home after the kids had gone to sleep, crawling into bed myself at 2 or 3 A.M. only to rise again three hours later.

This routine was wearing on me and one night, or morning rather being it was 2 A.M., my husband stumbled into the kitchen bleary-eyed and took a seat next to me. He pushed aside the cans of Red Bull to rest his elbows on the table, cupped his chin in his hands, and said “Why are you doing this?”

“Doing what?” I asked, without looking up from my computer screen.

“Killing yourself working so much.”

“I’m not killing myself! Plus, there’s not much I can do about it. I can’t just up and quit my day job.” I stopped typing and looked up.

“You don’t have to quit. You said yourself you could go part-time there.”

This wasn’t exactly the first time we had this conversation. I opened my mouth to repeat my arguments, the same ones he had refuted time and again with excel spreadsheets and numbers and logical reasoning, but before I could do so he spoke.

“I think you’re using the kids as an excuse because you’re afraid to take a chance on yourself.”

And there it was, the fear I had so carefully tucked away, thrust into the soft glow of our kitchen to hang in the air between the two of us.

“That’s just not true!” I returned to typing, audibly pounding each key to show my irritation, but it was true and we both knew it. I had been outed. The very next morning, or rather later on that day, I asked to reduce my hours at work.

As women we are quick to express our outrage when we feel that limitations are being placed on us because we are mothers, but what about the limitations we place on ourselves? I hear it over and over again in my social circles. There’s the mother that puts off returning to school to get a degree in something she feels passionate about, the former yoga instructor that hasn’t seen the inside of a gym since her baby was born six months ago, the lonely divorcee that continues to turn down dates even from men she admits she is interested in, and then there is me.

And one and all, whether we realize it or not, we lay the blame at the feet of our children. What if this thing that we want to achieve took time from them or resources? What if as adults they look back on our choices and feel we sacrificed their needs for our own? These are valid questions, yes, but they are also ones I believe we hide behind too often as mothers.

I am officially going part time at my day job later this month. Is it risky? A little. Is there a possibility my child might have to go a couple of months without swim lessons or gymnastics if I were to fail? Maybe, but the regret I would feel if I didn’t chase this dream of mine is so much more immense.

I really hate it when my husband is right.

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