I recently turned down a job offer. A job that on paper looked like the perfect opportunity for me. It was (mostly) in my career field, and (the best part) it allowed me to work from home. The hours were set and had some flexibility early in the day, but the second half of the day was non-negotiable with hard deadlines.
The pay wasn’t spectacular, but not having to commute in treacherous Seattle-area traffic was very appealing. Add to that the benefit of not putting my two elementary-aged girls in afterschool care five days a week.
Back and forth went emails with my potential boss and several texts and a phone call with one of his current employees. Incidentally, his employee and I had a lot in common. Our husbands just happened to run into each other during the interview process 1,000 miles away, we’ve lived in many of the same places, our kids are close in age, etc.
In my mind, this job was my legitimate reentrance or my “in” to the working world. I found summer day camps for my girls and even scoured the neighborhood for a teenager willing to babysit after school for a few hours. I was getting my ducks in a row, our house in order, and figuring out what my new normal was going to look like.
It all sounded perfect, until it wasn’t.
Why, after all that effort, did I spend two nights awake contemplating if this position was truly what I wanted? What was it about this job that made me feel so unsettled? Could I really make the evenings it required doable? Was it worth creating chaos and instability for my kids during the dreaded homework and dinner hours? Worth being late to school concerts, sports games, or events with my husband? And what about the weeks my husband was in training? Could I still do it all? Would I be successful and end each day proud of what I had accomplished?
The answer was simply, no.
I made my choice. Had the circumstances been slightly different, I would have had zero hesitation. I was completely honest with this company and departed on very good terms. Perhaps down the road, another opportunity would arise. But for now, this wasn’t for me.
But then, it happened. Like a silent fog, the guilt set in.
The absolute crushing, second-guessing, overwhelming guilt that came with my decision. Was I just being selfish? The extra income would have been a welcomed addition to our budget. Lots of moms work full time. Shouldn’t I be grateful I’ve even been offered a job?
And There It Was. That feeling that I should just be GRATEFUL.
Grateful that someone offered me a job despite the fact that we move a lot: three states just in the last two and a half years. Grateful because I have a few weird gaps in my resume and “inconsistent” work experience all over the country. I am an experienced journalist and technical writer with a master’s degree, and I felt guilty turning down a “junior to mid-entry-level position”.
And I have no doubt that I made the right decision, but…
Why don’t we as educated military spouses expect more FOR ourselves? We give so much OF ourselves to our spouse’s career choice, this lifestyle, and our children. There has to be space dedicated to building ourselves up and finding what works best for you. I’ve been an Army spouse for nearly 16 years. We’ve had to make a lot of really difficult decisions in that time. We’ve made sacrifices neither one of us ever anticipated having to make.
I’m realizing that all of my guilt and the pressure of not being enough is self-inflicted. My career goals, my family values, and my choice to lovingly and wholeheartedly support my military spouse should unapologetically fit together.
From now on it will.