Dear Carolyn: Four years ago, I left my teaching career to care for my son, who needed a great deal of medical care. He has been doing well and no longer requires my constant attention. I would like to go back to my old career.
My family, both immediate and extended, are not supportive of this. Over the years, they have become reliant on me to take the lead. My husband and parents, with good intentions, tell me I am more valuable outside of my profession.
Every holiday, I listen to aunts and cousins tell me how lucky I am I don’t “have” to work.
All of this translates into me feeling unsupported. I know I can’t be professionally successful without support.
How do I begin to take steps away from this primary caregiving role? I never intended for this to be a permanent situation. – Trying to find balance
You remind your husband you never intended this arrangement to be permanent, and kindly tell him you’re applying to teach next fall – because you won’t stay in a role that doesn’t fit just because people have gotten comfortable with you in it.
You mentally tell everyone else with an opinion about your value to stuff that opinion someplace dark.
And you notify yourself you can in fact be professionally successful without your family’s support.
Support is a lovely thing to have. But it is not necessary.
The list of necessities for your professional success is short: You need to be qualified, apply, be hired, and do your job well.
Good for you for giving your son what he needed, and congratulations on doing your caretaking job so well people embraced you in it. Resuming your old career won’t strand anyone; you’re just taking that same unselfishness and competence where your heart says you need to go, as you’re entitled to do.
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