I’m a mother of 3 wrestling with choice of working full-time

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Dear Troubleshooter:

I am a female nurse in my 40s and I’ve been working part-time while raising my three children. I’ve been asked if I’d like to become a full-time nurse, and now I’m wrestling with the choice.

My employers said it would be fine if I wanted to continue working part-time, which is nice of them. But even now, I’m fully occupied and I know I can’t handle a full-time job.

At the same time, however, I also want to dedicate myself to the job I love. I like my job as a nurse, but there was once a path for me to become a university teacher. Unfortunately, around that time, I almost had a miscarriage. After that, I decided that I would make my children my top priority for the rest of my life. I believe that I made the right choice at that time.

But these days I find myself having to put up with harsh words from my children, who are in a rebellious phase. I sometimes feel rather ridiculous for being so focused on them every day. My husband is also very busy, and I cannot expect him to cooperate in dealing with the children.

Please give me some advice on how I can navigate my way through this conundrum.

— M, Tokyo

Dear Ms. M:

It must be a difficult choice whether to take up a full-time job or live life as a mother, but it seems that it’s really not that feasible for you to change your current situation, because you are in the middle of raising three children. In other words, your current situation with your children as your top priority doesn’t seem likely to change.

Having said that, you are facing difficulties raising them. You may feel like breaking down and crying every day, thinking that what you are doing could be a total waste of your time and energy. You also may sometimes think you’d rather change your life’s course and pursue a career by becoming a full-time nurse.

However, it seems to me that what you’re struggling with is not meaningless at all.

You’ve been offered a full-time position. The word “nurse” doesn’t only mean “nursing.” Such work carries with it the concepts of “educating,” “caring” and more specifically, “delivering energy and vitality.”

There are elements of these ideas in child-rearing that you are currently doing. I think that your experience in raising children would be of great help in your nursing career.

What you need to think about is that your children will eventually move on from their rebellious phase and become independent. At that time, you may be able to take on the responsibilities of being a full-time nurse. I think that your experience from educating your children will one day be put to good use in the nursing field in a full-time capacity.

— Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist