April 16, 2010 in Features

Working mom needs support

Washington Post
 

Dear Carolyn: Near the end of last year, a good friend of mine had a baby. Soon after, she started complaining about having to go back to work, which she recently did. Each time we speak, she complains about having to do this when she’d rather be with the baby.

Normally, I would be empathetic as so many people are forced to make this difficult decision. However, she and her husband chose to purchase an enormous two-income home. They both drive fancy vehicles, take nice vacations, wear high-end clothes, etc. I know what their incomes are, and they could definitely afford for her to stay home if they downsize.

I have refused to comment as I don’t want to come off as judgmental about their lifestyle choices, but the constant complaining has me to the point where I don’t want to pick up the phone. Do I butt in or keep my lips zipped? – M.

Maybe if they “downsize,” she really could quit her job. But your timeline says the baby is just months old. That means, unless they’ve jetted, shopped and moved in the weeks since becoming parents, their vacations have already been taken, the cars driven, the clothes worn and the mortgage papers signed.

It’s also possible she can afford to quit her job, but doesn’t want to – and she’s crying poor to cover guilty feelings.

Interesting twist, if it’s true; her fear of being judged on one choice has you judging her for another.

Supporting her would be: “You sound really unhappy about working. I’m not sure, though, how to help you – by validating your choices, or brainstorming alternatives?” Translation: Please let me help, or please let me change the subject.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at 9 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.


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