How Does One Make the Perfect Life Choices?

I’m sitting in an airport waiting for a delayed flight, wearing bright orange compression socks, thinking about the latest book I’m writing. It’s been harder to write.

The main character is divorced. She was pregnant when her husband left her for her friend and she had to quickly get a job. She goes back to school to get a secondary education degree because her bachelor’s was in English.  

She had planned on getting a Master’s and possibly a Doctorate in English but then she met John. They fell in love. He got a job and they got married and she didn’t get a Master’s. When she got pregnant with their first child, she kept working. Then the two of them together decided she would stay home with their son. After childcare costs, it made more sense. And he made enough. Plus, she believed her kids would be better off if one of them could stay home. He made more, so she stayed home. She often thought about getting her Master’s, but then a kid would get sick and she wondered how she would do it all. She kept putting it off.

Until the day her husband came home and said he wanted a divorce.

She doesn’t think much about her choices (Why bother? It won’t help) until she has to work with a graduate of hers who has just finished her bachelors and wants to go get her Master’s. But she met this guy….

So Grace looks over at all of her decisions.

And this is where I’m stumped.  

Of course women should get an education and support themselves. Of course they should accomplish all they want to accomplish. But what if the two spouses decide that one parent could stay home. They think it would be better for the kids. But then the spouse who stays home loses potential income. Loses years of experience. May pass up on education that would help because they put their trust in their spouse.

Is this possible anymore?

Do both parents need to always work because relationships seem to be so fluid these days?

I stay home. Yes, I’ve had different jobs and done different things, but when I thought of applying to be a substitute teacher and saw they wanted 3 professional references, I started to cry and didn’t finish the application. I couldn’t think of a professional reference. Sure, I had people who would give me a reference, but I hadn’t worked for anyone in years.  

At the same time, I think having one parent able to stay home is great for a family. I think I’m slowly going insane, but besides that, I think it’s a good idea. If possible.

I had a parent home until I was about 12 or 13 and then I would come home and be alone for about an hour. It wasn’t that big a deal. I would do my homework and watch Days of Our Lives. The worst thing I did was eat a whole box of Kudos and then throw up. I never ate another Kudos again and I’m not even sure they make them anymore. They probably heard my story and realized they didn’t have a future.

But I remember when I missed the bus and I couldn’t get a hold of anyone. I was scared. I thought I’d have to stay at the school over night. My neighbor came and got me and it wasn’t a big deal except for the 30 minutes when it was.

I’m around if my kids forget their lunches or nice clothes for a presentation. I pick them up for appointments and make sure things generally run smoothly.

Except for those times when I mix appointments up and I show up at the right time a day late. Or when I give each kid a different kid’s lunch so when I see one on the counter and it says my youngest’s name but I know I gave him something, I just eat that lunch myself.

I’m not a very domestic stay at home mom but I’m a “I’m here if you need me” one.  

As I write from my character’s point of view, I wonder if this is still a good idea.

If I went back into the workforce and actually used my law degree, I would never make the money I would’ve made had I stayed working. I’m so far out of the game, I wonder if I could get a job.  

Some people volunteer and keep up their resume that way. I haven’t kept a file of what I’ve done. I think I was taught you don’t get credit for volunteer work. It’s a service. (And if it gets around that I’m a helpful person, people may actually ask me for help. No one wants that.)  

So what’s the answer?

Is staying home still a viable option?  

How does one make the perfect choices in life? And never regret them?

I would love to hear your views.

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7 responses to “How Does One Make the Perfect Life Choices?

  1. You pose an interesting question.

    The decisions we make would all be best if we could actually glimpse the outcome of each one. Like the movies Sliding Doors and The Butterfly Effect.

    Your character knows that she would have been better off choosing herself (her education, her career) over trusting her husband, but that is only because he turned out to be a cheating bastard. None of us anticipate this. We all fall in love and then base every upcoming decision on the expectation of forever.

    Especially as women, I have a friend who was contemplating giving up her excellent job and moving away from all her friends and family to follow her boyfriend to Texas where he had been transferred. I pointed out that men almost never do this. Guys don’t give up who they are for love. Guys enhance their own lives with love.

    Women choose love over almost everything else. Even themselves.

    This is what I taught my daughter, and we’ll see if she follows my advice:

    Women should get as much education as possible, because even if you think you’re just going to stay home with kids, you might have to get a job someday. Due to any number of unforeseen incidents, you might have to support your family and at that point you’ll want to make a living wage, not minimum wage.

    Ideally, we should finish schooling before marriage, or at least before babies. Then our decisions are truly our own.

  2. I’m having a bad day…so my answer is crabby. I think women get the short stick all around. When they work they are rarely given credit for what they do, they feel guilty about not being available for their kids….and we still get paid less….while doing the same work, plus housework, plus elder care. But what hurts most is when women are cruel to each other….those that work in the home, those that work outside….those that have to beg to find after school care for their kid with someone who hasn’t been investigated 3x by CPS. I could go on…but I won’t.

  3. As a woman who got that education, has never gave it up to chase a man, and has only been in the work force… I have to wonder, is that the “better” route?

    I had a conversation with a stay -at -home mother who said, “Sometimes I’m jealous of you. I look at my life and think, ‘Is this all I’m worth? Is this all I was meant for?’ If I was at least working I would be contributing to society, and being something! Ya, know?”

    I nodded, “Yeah, I do know. There are days I go to work, and sit down at my desk and stare at the gray cubicle wall and think, ‘ Is this all I’m worth? Is this what I was meant for?'”

    The grass is not greener in a different pasture.

    I think, where ever we are we should get an education, we should push our selves to grow, we should do something that makes us feel good. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to stagnate.

    If I were your character, I would encourage her friend to go after love, but don’t lose yourself in the process. Get that masters degree, even if it was hard and bad timing, do something to grow. Have a plan B, incase it doesn’t work out. Don’t berate herself for whichever choice you chose but look for the lesson and blessings in that choice.

    If she thinks the lawn is greener on the otherside of the fence…. then she should get out the hose and start watering her own.

  4. The best choice is what we really want. Then, regardless of the consequences, we know we did what we wanted at the time. It makes the fallout easier. “Hey, I did that because it was what I wanted most at the time.” I tell myself that a lot these days.

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