Should a mom leave her son to take a job?
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.