To deeply resent potential career setback?(61 Posts)
First time user, though occasional lurker on this forum. I am here for your wisdom and insight. Please feel free to be very honest with me- I feel that I have lost all perspective and could do with some of yours!
Hubby and I are both surgeons (different specialties). We live and work in the US (originally from a different continent). We are parents to two beautiful children. Most of our immediate families are now in the US, so this is now home. We took a long, difficult path to get where we are now, spending the better part of the past 2 decades undertaking fairly grueling surgical training. Now, we are wrapping up training and getting ready to take up real jobs-already in very, very late 30’s. Here comes the dilemma.
I have a job offer from my current training program. This is a world-renowned program and a lot of what is being practiced here aligns very well with my desired career trajectory. The Department Chair is passionate about mentoring new faculty, there is ample time to pursue academic interests, a very strong workforce of top-notch faculty and trainees from across the world (besides, this is a beautiful city, with the right mix of the city vibe and easy access to breathtaking scenery).
The downside is that they are currently not looking to hire someone in my husband’s specialty; he works in a very niche field and the kind of jobs that would suit his skillset are few and far-between. He has however found another job he thinks he will love-except it is on the other side of the country (think 8 hour flight from where we are currently, counting in airport layovers and such). My husband’s field is undergoing rapid expansion at this center and they are quite keen to hire him, so much so, that they have extended me a job offer too.
I have very little doubt this will be a wonderful opportunity for my husband. Within my field at this academic center, however, the staffing is threadbare, the section chief is not known to be an avid mentor of new hires and my on-call duties will be overwhelming until the staffing situation improves. I am also not excited to move to this much smaller place after having lived in a lovely, thriving urban environment. Since funding is an issue for them currently, I am also being offered a much smaller salary than would be expected for my skillset.
In short, I am very confused. We both agree that staying geographically so far apart will be unsustainable over the long term. I still resent my current situation- I have slogged very hard to get this far (admittedly, so has he), and it now seems hard to not take this job which seems tailor-made for me and to travel across the continent for a job situation I feel zero excitement for. We have some restrictions imposed by our visas too- which means that whichever job we go for, we will be deadlocked in for the next few years. As it is, our long years spent in training have been less than ideal for our children; we have relied a lot on outside help for their upbringing. It makes sense to now shift our focus to them and stop cribbing about our own career-related frustrations- I know this and feel guilty about feeling the way I do. Please drill some sense into me.
Difficult situation. Sounds like you need to make an impartial pros and cons list:
Pros of current area
- Great job for you
- Great city/location
- Kids are settled in current area - friends, childcare, schooling (I presume?)
Cons of current area
- No job for DH
Pros of new area
- Great job for DH
- Job for you
Cons of new area
- Crap job for you career wise
- Poorer life/work balance
- Less nice area
- Upheaval for kids
There are some things you haven't mentioned which could be added to this list. Which option is better financially? Which is closer to family and close friends?
From what you've said the main con of staying put is that your DH would have no job. Is there any chance your program, or somewhere near ish, might have a space for him in a year or two? If so, is there anything else he could do in the meantime eg academic work/publication?
How likely is your DH to be able to get a job in a reasonable commute of the ideal scenario for you?
It's hard. My gut is that you should stay where you are as its more stable for the kids, plus you already had time off to have the kids so maybe you can get the leg up now to make up for it?
Well, you're both surgeons, so I'd think you were strange if you weren't both ambitious types! I just wanted to say you're not unreasonable feeling resentful at the idea of putting your career on hold to further his and that this will be a hard decision. One question I wanted to throw out there is would he make the same sacrifice for you? If the situation was reversed?
In terms of reaching a decision, I would start there.
I also wanted to tell you not to feel guilty about the hours you've done so far. Two hardworking professional parents who love their kids? What fantastic role models. There's always a hard compromise and you'll always feel like you didn't do enough, but that doesn't mean that you haven't done enough. Your children will thank you for it one day - I imagine the careers you both have has meant you've been able to afford opportunities for them that not all their peers will have had.
It's really hard to judge the details, but I would say you take the job, stay put with the DC and take a hit on the logistics. Your DH can take his job offer, figure out a way to come home as often as possible, and take it from there. In a couple of years, things might look very different. If you take a big hit now, you might never recover professionally.
Don't compromise on salary or opportunity, you have worked hard for them.
DH and I are scientists, not clinicians, but the principles are the same. It has to be teamwork and it has to be 'for the family' but there are many ways of how that can play out in reality.
If they are so keen to hire your dh will they consider giving him shift options that enable him to travel easier?
I would be very wary of taking a hit on your career tbh. Especially if it means moving somewhere less than ideal. Sounds mean,but by choosing a niche specialism he was always going to run this risk.
How old are your kids?
Thanks for all the sound advice! Our children are 12 and 7 and growing up fast.
If there was a role reversal, what would hubby do? This is a difficult one to answer. He is normally a very fair person and does not automatically expect me to play second fiddle. He more than pulls his weight with household responsibilities and does support my ambition. That being said (and maybe I am a bit biased), my ride has been bumpier than his in general- women surgeons are still in the minority which makes things a bit harder overall-another reason I am so reluctant to let go of my current job (we have more of a fair gender mix here).
I get where you're coming from on the bumpier ride - I'm in a different profession, but I've seen the glass ceiling before and it's hugely frustrating. If you think your OH might well put you first if the situation was reversed, I think you owe him some serious thought. Not necessarily to pick the option that's better for his career, but to really consider what's right for you as a family unit.
As minipie says, you need to make a serious list of pros and cons. If you have two children, I bet you've already taken more time out from your career than him, and I wonder if that means there's already a slight imbalance that necessitates your career being prioritised for now? Maybe not, but worth some consideration.
I take it you've already tried to negotiate the smaller salary on offer for you and there's no scope to bring that more in line with your expectations?
As things stand currently, the only way he could stay around the area would entail a shift in his career path. He is not entirely averse to this (although a definite step-down from what he is being offered at the other place and not much chance of progression). He would also have to commute more than 90 minutes each way everyday, and rent locally for on-call. Financially, things will not be remarkably different in either scenario-taking into account the additional cost of a separate establishment. Family are spread out; maybe slightly closer to his new proposed job location but not enough of a difference to make this a significant determining factor. We both feel that staying together will be the best option for our children; it is just hard to accept what this will mean for our careers.
Stay where you are and be. Selfish on this one. Less upheaval for the family. And screw it, why do women always have to sub,it to their husband's career?
He can negotiate a compressed week or 2 weeks on, one week off, or whatever else deal he wants to and fly-commute.
Well, A is good for you but shit for him. B is good for him but shit for you. It doesn't look like there's any way around that, so as whatever decision you come to (other than living 8 hours apart, which is shit in its own way) will be unfair, why not make it random? Toss a coin and go with that.
Roasted- thank you for your response. In my current place, salary will be commensurate with academic rank- it is a transparent system and bonuses are shared equally by the group.
The other place has a much smaller guaranteed salary number, with a potential to get more based on how much I am able to grow my patient base; once that gets going, the numbers might look different. Individual bonuses are tied to academic productivity, being on the national/international lecture circuit, and a lot of other metrics, which I find more vague and harder to navigate.
Tossing a coin-great idea! Really, the pros and cons on each side pretty much balance each other out, so that might decide it once and for all.
Staying apart- besides the obvious implications this will have for our family, is also very challenging logistically. We often work nights and weekends and pull really long days at work. I cannot imagine how I could manage as a single parent, even if he was able to commute in a week each month, which seems unlikely in any case.
I think we both realize one of us needs to put our ambition on hold to work this out. If he does, he still has to undertake a long-ish commute, we have to bear the cost of a rental unit (on top of our mortgage and our student loans) and he will face the possibility of a stagnant career. If I do, I will have a lackluster career but the upside is that we can live together in the same house and have a smaller daily commute. A bit frustrating that these are the only two options on offer. Much appreciate everyone's insight though-helped clear up the cobwebs in my mind.
Is there a third option? Another city but with a job for both of ye that is more balanced all round. It is coming to a very vulnerable time for your 12 year old to move. Did your dh factor in the fact that jobs were going to be few and far between when he opted for his choice of career? It's a very tough one and important not to let resentment take hold.
Well done on undertaking all that training.
Perhaps it's time for him to start looking at a less niche area now? And then maybe he could move back into his preferred field in the future when your dc's are older.
I would stay where you are. Don't underestimate the stress involved in moving children so far away from what they know of as home. Do you really want that, on top of a new job? And a job that's beneath you, come to that? I think you'd always wonder, what if...? You said that you want to prioritise your children now. Surely their needs come into this? Given their ages, they'll have established friendship groups and be used to their way of life. Why disrupt the lives of three people for one? I think your DH would be selfish to expect this of you all.
You are clearly both highly educated and have excellent careers to come. These two job offers won't be the only ones over the next few years. Take your job, keep the children settled and happy and DH can either commute, do something else in the meantime, or find another job.
Given what you've said here, I don't feel like the choices are equally good. Staying where you are now has numerous benefits, including keeping the children in their home and being able to enjoy a city you love. It also can't be discounted that women statistically have lower odds of bouncing from a worse job to a much better one (not that you couldn't be an exception). Far more feasible and with better odds of a happy ending would be your husband taking the local job with a view that it's a stepping stone to something better. The long but doable commute and hotel stays would be only temporary, particularly if his field is rapidly expanding as you say.
Whereas if you move to the new area, that way resentment lies -- perhaps on your part, perhaps on your children's, especially if the new town doesn't offer much culturally. The entire family would be taking one for the team instead of just one member.
Whatever you decide, good luck.
Yeap, I think the children will be quite disrupted by the move and that is not negligible.
What is option C - can you stay put for now until something comes along that is an equal role for both of you?
You do not mention personality. How likely is your resentment to ruin family life if you move V his if you don't? How likely is your marriage to fail with that distance between you?
Hard one, but I also think 'better the devil you know'. You already know your supervisor and everything about your work, whereas his are just promises so far. Neither option is ideal, but his requires all the hassle of moving across the country.
Also, if he's being brought in to help grow an area - what if it doesn't grow? Will his job disappear? How much pressure will he be under to do that, and put in even more extra hours than would normally be expected?
Could you end up BOTH having to 'grow' your work (ie work every hour under the sun) in a new city with no friends and kids who've just been uprooted?
DH and I moved to the US from England. He's in software, but he was brought over to help grow a business and offered all sorts of pie in the sky 'when' the company really took off. What it meant was his boss wanting him there 24/7 while DD and I were new, had no friends, and I felt pretty abandoned. I may be projecting here. but I'm always wary of 'come set up this great new endeavor' type job.
I also agree that men don't (generally) get stuck in lower-end jobs as easily as women, so he's more likely to be able to move on than you will be.
And if you apply for green cards, your visa won't tie you in to any job. That's how DH got out of the working all hours job. We both got green cards, he switched company, I got a job and we are ALL much happier. I'd advise going for green cards asap, and keep looking for that evasive 3rd option, that checks all the boxes.
I'm also another one to suggest don't underestimate the value of what a move would be on your children. They're both at the ages of school/high school so I presume are settled in their area/have friends etc.
I did move for my husband and it definitely wasn't easy with the assured job. I was not there "of my own merit" and struggled to be seen for my worth rather than simply the "wife of xx". It did take a good few years for me to build up the reputation that I think I deserve.
millions of parents make the same decisions in the same dilemma every day of the week.. Are you really going to base your decision on responses from mumsnet?
I have colleagues who commute to New York from London. They work there Tues-half-day Thurs then fly back to spend a long weekend with family. In some high end professions you need to make long commutes work.
I think you should stay put and let your husband commute for an agreed length of time whilst he's looking for a job closer to home.
Why was your dh even applying for jobs that are 8 hours from home? Was he just assuming that the family would up and follow him where ever he chose to go?
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