Should a mom leave her son to take a job?

The News & Observer (Sunday) - - Weather - BY CAROLYN HAX Email Carolyn at [email protected]­ or chat with her on­line at noon ET each Fri­day at www.wash­ing­ton­

Dear Carolyn: I im­mi­grated to marry a man I’d dated for four years. It was an in­cred­i­bly toxic and abu­sive re­la­tion­ship and I fi­nally man­aged to leave af­ter 11 years. I was un­em­ployed and with­out fam­ily or friends.

Af­ter two years I’ve found an amaz­ing job and have done bril­liant work in my com­mu­nity and my new coun­try. I’m lit­er­ally re­ceiv­ing awards for my work. Our 12-year-old child has not only ad­justed but thrived. We co-par­ent well and ac­tu­ally main­tain a very solid friend­ship. I’m even friends with his new part­ner. I’m sur­rounded by lov­ing friends and “found” fam­ily. I’m in a lov­ing, sup­port­ive re­la­tion­ship. All in all life is per­fect. But. I’ve been of­fered my dream job 12 hours away. Dur­ing our divorce we agreed our child has a say in his liv­ing sit­u­a­tion should I move. I’m pretty con­fi­dent he will choose to stay in his home­town, but hope­ful he will choose to move with me.

I’ve made peace with it. But I feel guilty. So­ci­ety judges ab­sent moth­ers so harshly.

I’m wor­ried I’m aban­don­ing him and he will end up with weird is­sues.

I feel jus­ti­fied af­ter so many years of abuse and sac­ri­fice that I de­serve to chase my own dreams.

But am I be­ing self­ish? A bad mother? Woman on Hold

Dear Woman on Hold: How is this not self­ish? That’s not a rhetor­i­cal ques­tion; my ad­vice for you is to an­swer it.

Es­pe­cially since the na­ture of the dream mat­ters. Par­ents live away from mi­nor chil­dren plenty, for rea­sons “so­ci­ety” ac­cepts and even ap­plauds. Mil­i­tary de­ploy­ments; diplo­matic or po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions; hu­man­i­tar­ian aid work; ca­reer ne­ces­sity (as­tro­nauts, jour­nal­ists, moun­taineers, ship cap­tains); eco­nomic pres­sure – any­thing from a job trans­fer to em­i­gra­tion from an im­pov­er­ished coun­try.

These have in com­mon some com­bi­na­tion of ne­ces­sity and a higher pur­pose – and typ­i­cally an end date. That’s still of­ten wrench­ing for kids, how­ever, “I wanted to be with you, but I had to pro­tect the world/lead the world/ save the world/con­quer space/keep us all from starv­ing”?** At least it feels im­por­tant.

If you re­ally are just talk­ing about dream-ful­fill­ment be­yond your cur­rent per­fec­tion, then your de­ci­sion feels heav­ily op­tional.

The chances you’ll have other dreamy ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties, es­pe­cially if you’re “bril­liant” at it: ex­cel­lent.

The chances your child will have an­other crack at child­hood: zero.

Of course, the only one whose vote counts is your son.

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