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LifestyleColumnistsAsk Amy

Woman hopes to balance family, professional life

DEAR AMY: I am in my late 20s and married to the love of my life. I was very unhappy in the corporate world and enrolled in a graduate school program to change to a career in the health field. I am happy with this decision and find the new field much more rewarding. However, I’m concerned about when is the “right time” to have a child with my husband. I will be 29 when I finish the program, and he will be 30. I always planned to have a child in the 30-32 range, which is when I will be new to my field. I want to be taken seriously as a professional but not miss my window for having a baby. I would love to hear from you and your readers about the “best way” (if this exists) to make it work, and if anyone has been in a similar situation and how you approached it. — Woman Who Wants It All

DEAR WOMAN: You want it all — everyone does — but when it comes to blending babies and careers, having it all is a big lift for young professionals. And yet — this is how families (and careers) are made.

I have never personally known anyone to time a pregnancy perfectly. I do know women who have applied for (and gotten) new jobs or started careers while pregnant; those I admire the most just move forward, knowing that they will adjust their priorities as they go.

You imply that women who have children are not “taken seriously” in the workplace. I suggest you reject that unfortunate assumption, which in my experience is not true. Every profession I have ever been a part of is powered by working parents (women and men) who take themselves — and are taken — seriously.

My own instinct for you is to try to land that first good job before you get pregnant. Know, however, that the universe might have other plans for you. I look forward to reader responses.

DEAR AMY: My mom recently passed away from complications of cancer. While I miss her very much, I am struggling with anger, because she didn’t tell anyone about her diagnosis — not even my father — until she was literally on her deathbed. We discovered in her hospice medical packet that she was diagnosed with terminal cancer 10 weeks before she passed. I think she missed an opportunity to allow us to come alongside her and to absorb this blow over a period of time rather than in several heart-wrenching days. Our entire family and all her friends — especially her best friends — are reeling with shock and even betrayal. I am wrestling with a sick feeling that I didn’t really know her at all. How do we find our way forward? My father is elderly, and I’m worried about what this shock will do to his health. — A Grieving Daughter

DEAR DAUGHTER: I am truly sorry for this shocking loss. However, even being prepared for a loss does not necessarily lessen the grief. Anger almost always accompanies loss, even when it is anticipated.

Your mother made a choice that is bewildering to you, but she did this of her own free will. Her own feelings were likely extremely complicated; as she moved toward her own death, she may not have been able to face the pain of saying goodbye. She might have wanted to have the blessing of a “normal” life, even as she knew she would leave it soon.

The dying process often accompanies a drawing-in, when the dying person will self-isolate and even reject loved ones. This is extremely painful for those left behind. You need to find a way to move through this and forgive your mother for her choice — even if you don’t understand it.

The hospice that cared for your mother will likely host grief groups or have a referral for a private counselor for you. Bring your father to a grief group so he can connect with other people going through this; it might help you to mitigate his isolation.

DEAR AMY: Sometimes I cannot believe the letters people send to you. Do you make them up? I mean, the person who signed her letter “Help,” who couldn’t figure out how to deal with their disgustingly dirty apartment? Please. It’s called a sponge, lady. — Disgusted

DEAR DISGUSTED: I don’t make up any letters. Frankly, I don’t have that kind of imagination. You are lucky that you find such easy solutions to problems; many people are not that fortunate.

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