Trapped

"In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility."Eleanor Roosevelt

Have you ever been heartbroken? Normally triggered by an intense loss, it overtakes your body, your mind, like a parasite. It lays like dead weight on your chest, challenging every breath. It plants grenades in your mind, threatening to erupt in a firestorm of tears. A song on the radio, a street sign, a passing car -- all can trigger an explosion. Or sometimes it's nothing at all. You're clearly not fun to be around because as much as you try to mask what you're feeling, you catch yourself numbly staring into the distance. It sucks. You know the feeling, right?

That's how I feel when I drive away from day care, up to work. Heartbroken. It's much worse on a Monday, gradually working itself to just sadness on Thursday and anticipation on Friday. It has a lot to do with saying goodbye to him -- it just doesn't feel right -- but this is the main problem: I take him out of his crib at 6:30 a.m., put him in his car seat, drive 30 minutes south to day care, briefly say goodbye, drive two hours north to work at a job I don't love, and then return home at 6:30 p.m. just to put him down to sleep at 6:45. He really should be asleep by 6:30, but I just can't. I can't.

Something has to change. There has to be another way.

I'm not unhappy because I have to work. Even if I had the luxury to not work (which is so far from my realm of reality) I would still be a work-at-home mom. I just, personally, need that outlet. As I've mentioned before, I've worked really hard throughout school and my internships. I need some kind of professional validation.

The job I have now is a "good" job, meaning it has decent pay, phenomenal benefits, stability, and it's in my chosen profession. I adore the people that I work with (without which I would have quit already) and there's a lot of downtime to, you know, write a blog for instance. Moreover, if I stayed with this job I could retire in my -- get this -- late forties. For real.

However, it's far. Really, really far. I could uproot my family and move closer to my job, but our whole lives are where we are. But really, that's a load of bull because I know if I found a job I loved, that I was truly excited to go to every day, I would move. What it boils down to is I don't enjoy this job. I don't feel valued or challenged or productive. And I know there might be people reading this who are laid off, struggling to find a job, or under the constant threat of unemployment. I should be thankful to have a job. I know, I know. And I am. Truly. Like I said, the people I work with are great and they make it fun, but the nature of the work just isn't for me.

But I have health care! But I could retire before I'm 50! But it's stable, secure!

So here's the dilemma: Do I settle for this job for practical, logical reasons and be perpetually unhappy until retirement? Can I learn to live with a broken heart?

Ideally, I could quit, get a part-time job and bring home pretty much the same amount of money -- if not MORE -- given how much we spend on day care, gas and tolls. But then there's health care.
And there it is.
My husband doesn't get insurance and if I get a new job that offers it, chances are there will be a lapse in coverage until I'm eligible. I can't have a lapse -- I have an infant. Plus, I don't want to look for a job solely on the basis of health care. I want to find something I love, that makes me happy. We make too much money for government-assisted health care, yet not enough money to buy private insurance. The middle class gets screwed.
When it comes down to it, I'm willing to risk the security, the retirement. I want to teach our son that if you work hard, if you follow your dreams, you can become who you want to be. I want to teach our son that he has control over his future; that there's happiness to be found. I don't think it's healthy for children to see their parents so unhappy in the lives they settled for. And I never, ever want him to think that we settled because of him.
Plus, if I have to be away from him, missing his milestones and development, shouldn't it be for a good reason? Something that allows me to proudly say, "Look, honey, Mommy wants to be with you, but look at what she does when she's away!"
But then there's health care.
And there it is.