Carolyn Hax Live: (June 26) All things grate and small

Jun 26, 2020

Advice columnist Carolyn Hax took your comments about her current advice column and questions about the strange train we call life. Her answers may appear online or in an upcoming column.

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Oh hiiii.

He says he’s ready to date but I can tell he misses his old life. I don’t expect him to get over the marriage overnight but how much time should I give him to adjust?

I'm not sure that's how I'd frame it--giving him "time" for some specific result. 

I'm not even sure I'd be looking to him for signs of whatever result that is.

Instead, I suggest looking inward at your own feelings. See whether you're getting what you want and need from your time with him. If you are, then stay. This can be renewable daily/weekly/monthly as you progress. If you aren't getting what you want and need, then decide whether it's worth it to you to wait for changes that you have zero guarantee will happen.

This keeps from boxing you into anything, or looking for someone else to answer questions to which you are the real answer. It can be worth it to you today to stay, see how things go ... and then next Thursday you can have a conversation that just rings the "I'm done" bell. That kind of flexibility might feel really uncomfortable (in which case, that's another argument for breaking up), but it's realistic and honest.

My girlfriend of 5 years and I are splitting up; it's completely amicable. We realized that we both want different things long-term, so we will be moving out of our shared apartment within the next month. She will likely be living with a roommate. My question is: should I suggest that she work on her tendency to be messy, and if so, how? By messy, I mean she regularly leaving things throughout the apartment rather than putting them away or disposing of them. It bothered me a lot at first, but I learned to just clean up the small things myself or remind her when it got out of hand. It's possible that whoever she lives with next won't be as easygoing, but would saying anything at this point be helpful or sound like bitterness?

Yikes. No. Don't "suggest" anything. Breaking up ends whatever say you had in her business.

I don't need to add this at all, MYOB is already a complete answer, but: Her roommate could be recovering from a neat-freak former roommate and thrilled to have a fellow slob across the hall. So your concern could be totally moot for all you know.

So that's two complete answers and here I am, still writing an answer. I guess I'm just mystified why you're so concerned for the next roommate, or your ex's relationship with the next roommate. Feels like the need for a last word/correction/dig more than anything else. Not good.

Just realized my question about a kid who played baseball for his dad’s approval from a chat a year ago showed up in your column in April. I decided to speak directly to mom about what my son told me when I ran in to her. I tried to report just facts, emphasizing that I knew I was retelling an 8yo’s version of events. I asked Mom if Kid liked baseball. She said, “Sometimes yes, sometimes no.” I told Mom that my 8 yo had come home very upset and reported that Kid “had to play baseball so his dad would like him.” I told her that I thought that “there was probably something lost in translation. But also as a parent, I would want to know my kid said that. That way, I would be the one to decide what to make of it.” I said the “it is information that I would want to know,” several more times nervously. She said, “it is good information to have. Thank you.” She looked so shocked, I don’t think the parents had any idea Kid was potentially thinking that about Dad. The next time I saw Dad he was especially friendly and I hoped that meant he appreciated my choice to speak up. I haven’t seen the kid playing baseball in the two seasons since. I am glad I spoke up. What one chatter said stuck out to me: what a weight for the kid to carry. As between a kid potentially carrying that weight and me overstepping, I decided I would rather chance overstepping. Thankfully, Mom and Dad seemed to care most about the kid and not as much about baseball!

This is fascinating, and great to hear, thank you. 

My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years, very happily. The problem is that our schedules have become so out of sync lately. We've both been working from home for a while now and while I've pretty much had to maintain a normal schedule my husband gets up around 1 PM and goes to bed around 4 or 5 AM. Because of this, we don't see each other as much as we used to when we both went off to work. We are only able to talk at dinner (which is his lunch) but he's working after dinner until well after I go to bed. I really miss him. I tried staying up later to see more of him but I need to be on-line for my job by 7:30 AM at the latest. Earlier is better since I have colleagues in Europe I need to communicate with. My husband says this is a chance of a lifetime for him to have the schedule that fits his bioclock but now it looks like we might be wfh for months more and I feel sad about our parallel lives. Our sex life has suffered (these days sex mainly happens when he comes to bed - so I have to wake up early or miss out entirely) and so has our emotional intimacy and I feel lonely. Is this just something I have to put up with until the pandemic is over?

Not without a real conversation. 

Unless: If you really think he's looking at this as a limited-time-only deal, where he's back on local business hours in September or January or next June or whatever, and if you think you can look at it emotionally as not personal and as a face-value chance for him to live his weird way just once in his life, and if you can adjust to it like couples do when they work shifts or deal with deployments, then let it be.

If that's too tall a stack of ifs, then, conversation: Say you understand his "chance of a lifetime" thinking, but it's not sitting right that he's so excited about this without any apparent struggle with not seeing you as much. While you -are- struggling. So you're feeling hurt right now on top of lonely. Then listen carefully to how he responds.

Last thing, just to think about for the future. If he really sees himself as a nocturnal creature who is grudgingly going through the motions of being a day person, then I think you can reasonably expect him to drift out sync with you more over time. On vacations, under stress, in retirement. People with circadian mismatches tend to be the best sports about it and put in their best efforts when the relationship is young. It's like so many other things that way--over time we tend to stop fighting our natures because the effort of daily life doesn't leave endless amounts in reserve.

That's why his answer to your admission of loneliness will be so important. If it's in his values and priorities to meet you halfway emotionally, especially when you make yourself vulnerable, then I think you'll feel less lonely, even if you stay out of sync for a bit.

In 2017 when my husband died, I found out how friends of many years suddenly avoid widows. I sold our home and moved in with an acquaintance who had a room for rent. I wanted to wait until I retired to buy a house in a resort location near my good friend who retired a few years ago. My landlady is not easy to live with – she’s sloppy, even when she cleans, I end up cleaning after her. Also, she constantly “borrows” my food (eggs, butter, milk) without asking and takes days to replace it. I’ve asked her to stop but she doesn’t. My company merged two groups last year and put extra work on those of us who were kept. Since the pandemic, my boss has been heavily relying on me since other people in the group are slacking off due to difficulties working from home. When I complain all I get is platitudes, phony awards, and speeches. Lately the only thing that cheers me up is the idea of just disappearing one Friday evening. I have more than enough money to retire and there’s a perfect house on the market in my retirement town. I plan to file my resignation late one Friday when I’m the last one on-line. I can pack up my car very early on Saturday, leave 2 months’ rent in lieu of a 60 day notice and just take off for my friend’s place. I’ll call my daughter on the way and tell her what I’ve done but leave no information for anyone else. My daughter isn't local to me and has anxiety-issues so I don’t think I should tell her ahead. Neither my boss nor my landlady has earned more consideration than I’m giving them. I’m so much looking forward to pulling this off. Is there any reason for not doing this?

Apparently not, but I don't see why you can't give regular notice. Why burn bridges for the sake of it?

Jump on that "perfect" house asap, though, if it's really what you want.

You wrote “Treat that attraction as a cue to seek more pleasure, just non-adulterously. Something tactile, maybe — a pet, a craft — or physical, like dance or yoga.” Well, I have a spouse who is incapable of having any physical intimacy, and dogs, and yoga classes. And all I have left is emptiness and resentment and a goal of not dumping care for my spouse on the kids. I have absolutely nothing to look forward to in my life. Dogs and yoga. Right.

Okay, so you need more. It's still smart to start small and non-disruptive to find out whether that's enough.

When you learn it isn't, then you figure out what the next-bigger step is, to see if that takes care of it. With each step there's a calculation of how much disruption you're ready to assume responsibility for in the effort to get what you need. 

In your case, you start with your "goal of not dumping care for my spouse on the kids." What other options do you have for that care, besides letting it devolve to your kids? Can you hire it out? Do you have to remain married to be the primary caregiver? Can your kids contribute more without having to bear all of the weight? Those are just the first three questions to ask in figuring out what is possible.

That's what any "emptiness and resentment" tells us to do: figure out what is possible. 


Our young adult son (25) has been living at home for a few months, and has lost his job because of cutbacks due to the Coronavirus. A relatively new relationship has also ended (not by his choice). He has a college degree, and his job hunting. At home, he's mostly uncommunicative, and we think depressed, but he's still exercising, eating (he prefers to do his own cooking), and occasionally sees a friend (social distancing, he says and we hope...). We've offered to help pay for counseling, suggesting that sometimes it's nice to have someone who listens and can help sort things out. Maybe he grunted when that offer was made. We obviously can't force him to do anything. He seems very unhappy. I guess we're just not sure how else to help (other than providing a safe place to be right now).

I'm sorry. This is such a common story right now--so many young adults are back with their parents, trying to regroup and relaunch.

"Very unhappy" is to be expected. It also isn't something you always can or necessarily have to fix. Were you ever just flat-out miserable at points on the road to where you are now? I was, and these times were terrible enough that I wouldn't relive them or wish them on anyone, but I can't deny how useful they were, either.

The exercising/eating/socializing do suggest he's not in such a dark place as to be a danger to himself, but don't take my word for it, and don't be shy about getting therapeutic guidance yourself. Counseling can be something you seek here and there as needed as questions arise, not an every-week commitment--or you can call NAMI's Helpline--800-950-6264, staffed from 10 am to 6 pm Eastern. 

Giving him a safe place to be is huge. That includes giving him space and being watchful for when he might need more help from you than just shelter.

My in-laws are lovely, helpful people who do LOADS of wonderful things for us. BUT (of course there’s a ‘but’), they have a massive problem with boundaries. Things in our home have been altered (some permanently) without asking, for example. When my husband or I bring up a grievance, they become defensive and suggest that we don’t appreciate any of the things they do. My husband agrees that this is an issue, but stalls at a solution. What can we do?

Hold your ground when they start getting defensive. "We appreciate X and Y. We do not appreciate it when you make changes to our home without asking first." That's a boundary, and crossing it means any resulting hard feelings are not your fault, they're the boundary-crossers' fault for crossing the boundary. They can howl all they want about how ungrateful you are or whatever; you will know that you said thank you for X and Y and objected only to Z, no matter how much they twist it to serve their own emotional ends.

That is the solution: believing this is true and letting the rest of the consequences follow from there, without trying to prevent them by backing down. Say no to whatever you need to say no to, and ride out the emotional storm. As unpleasantries go--and it will be unpleasant--it's still better than letting people walk all over you and wreck your house and blame you for it.

Unless you actually do prefer dealing with their intrusiveness to dealing with their defensiveness--we all make our deals, and I won't tell anyone which priority to choose.

Hi Carolyn, My husband and I are into our third round of fertility treatments, and I really, really am ready to be a parent. Husband is also very ready, but I don't think has the same emotional agony I'm feeling right now. It hurts to see a baby, even on TV. We have told no one (even family) that we are even trying because we don't want to deal with comments/advice. On a recent video chat with Husband's brother and SIL, we learned that they are expecting an unplanned baby. SIL seemed overwhelmed and maybe even tearful. This would be their fourth child. I want to float the idea of adoption to this couple. Of course I'm not expecting anything, but I feel that if they don't even know we're willing to parent this child, it can't ever be an option. (The couple has also adopted two of their own children, if that matters). My husband is strongly against asking. He says they are just overwhelmed right now, but will absolutely adapt and asking this would irreparably damage our relationship. The couple's concerns are much more 'will we be able to save enough for their college accounts?'/'will x,y kid have to share a room forever?' and not about needs or safety things. Am I too hormonal to see that this is an inappropriate question? Or is it OK to gently inquire if I'm absolutely fine with a no thanks?

I am so very sorry about your fertility struggles. 

Your husband is right about this, though. One bout of possible stress-sniffles over unexpected pregnancy news is so far from an indication that the child isn't wanted, that it would risk irreparable harm to the relationship to inquire. That the main concerns are financial pushes the question even more toward the taboo.

So yes, tell the hormones a hard no on this one. They're just doing their job, but they're not to be trusted.

Why 60 day’s rent? Do you have a written agreement? 30 is usual. But is there any reason you can’t give your employer 1 or 2 week’s notice of your intent to retire? Retiring and just quiting are viewed differently. And who knows, even if you have the money to retire, you may get bored in your new location, and may want to be able to list your current employer as a reference!

Sometimes, when people suggest that you don't appreciate the things they do for you, it can be useful to agree. "You're right, we don't appreciate it. Better stop altering our home!"

This brings me joy. Thank you.

Maybe moving would help you feel better about your job. Perhaps it’s the combo of crappy roommate plus job. Sounds like they value you. If you had your own sanctuary it might make your job more bearable and you’d still have some income to cover all those moving expenses, and maybe you can make a retirement decision in a happier/clearer state of mind. Just a thought. You know what’s best for you!

When I was living with my parents (not by choice) while unemployed (not by choice) and single (not by choice), they would have described me as uncommunicative too, and that's because every conversation turned into a thinly-veiled attempt to screen me for depression, and/or to "talk about it" in the hopes they could "make it better". What I wanted most at that time was to be unobserved - to be able to wake and sleep and eat and drink and shower and game and socialize without them keeping track of what I was doing and constantly monitoring me, even from a distance.

Aaaaaaa yes--an animal part of my brain was saying this but I didn't make the connection, much less find such a clear way to articulate it. Yes. Thank you.

I so feel for the husband. I am truly nocturnal. The only periods of my entire life where I have actually felt rested were a couple months of night shift work in college. People with “normal” biorhythms have no idea how hard it is. We’re forced to just suck it up for our entire education & working career. When we get a period where we can actually experience restful sleep, let us enjoy it. The chronic crappy sleep also affects our health (well studied). Imagine being told you need to go to bed at 10am and get up at 6pm. Always. Don’t fall asleep until 1pm? Too’re just irresponsible. This is the experience those of us with shifted sleep phases have our whole lives. Tell your husband you miss him...but have a little empathy too. Personally, I’ve been arranging my entire financial planning so I can retire the day I’m eligible and SLEEP.

Flippin' people off like that feels great, for about a day. Then, the thrill fades, and you realize you were a little hasty. You've been living with this landlady for three years, and now you have to do something drastic? Maybe your boss is in a tough spot too, with the merging of two departments. Call your daughter on the way? Seems like you are looking for some drama, maybe due to the shutdown, but if you give everyone the proper notice you won't regret it later. You want to teach everyone a lesson to not mistreat you, but don't give them a reason to think of you as a jerk anyway. Give the proper notice, let them miss you rather than glad to be rid of you.

For the OP who's undergoing IVF--I really feel for you, as someone who just had her 3rd failed round of IVF this week. I strongly encourage you to talk to someone like a best friend or family member. IVF and infertility really stinks. Talking to a friend, even if s/he hasn't gone through it themselves, has helped me immensely. I'm not suggesting tell everyone, but people who are close to you who you believe will be supportive (for example, my SIL knows I am trying, my parents do not). You'd be pleasantly surprised at how supportive people can be! Also, a plug for talking to a therapist if you're not already. Again, IVF sucks. My therapist has helped me pick up the pieces many times and get back on the IVF horse. Best wishes to you.

You won't tell your family you are going through infertility treatments because you do not want comments or advice. Your instinct to tell someone who is overwhelmed by a pregnancy is to ask them to give the baby up to you for adoption. Isn't this just the kind of comments and advice you are desperately trying to avoid yourself. Not sharing struggles mean family and friends cannot support you. Maybe this mom would have avoided this reaction in front of you knowing you were going through infertility treatments.

The letter writer has had a run of bad years and a plan to get out of it. She has earned the right to make the cleanest of breaks and go retire to her happy place with her friend. Plus her quitting will become office LEGEND.

Noooo, no no. The "cleanest of breaks" is by the book. Two weeks' notice at work, 30 days to landlady (but leaving on the day OP chooses--no reason to stay all 30). Then no one has anything on you, which allows what others have referred to--ability to return if life takes a turn that way. 

I am all for a grand exit if that's what the circumstances demand--e.g., great opportunity but have to leave tomorrow!--but these circumstances are ideal for respectful tying of loose ends.

Dear Carolyn: My first baby was born in March and I started my maternity leave right around the time my company moved to all-remote work. My leave should end in a week and a half, but between the challenges of trying to catch up with the new format and the fact that we don't have a sitter lined up (it would have been my mom for the first few months, but she battled COVID-19 in May and is still on the mend), we have decided that I'm going to take the plunge and become a full-time parent. I am planning to put in my two-weeks notice tomorrow (Friday). And yet...something is making me feel very anxious about the whole thing. It's not that I will miss my job. I am not a "live to work" person, and my job's main benefit is the paycheck and the fact that it keeps me busy. It's more that I feel that I'm about to surrender a lot of control to my husband, on whom I will now depend financially. I know that generations of spouses have done this. But I also know that it has led to many women getting stranded in untenable situations. I love my husband. He makes enough money to support us. I trust him. But people fall out of love all the time. I don't have a safety net in the form of wealthy parents, and I would like to think I will work again someday, when the pandemic is over and my kid/kids is in school. Why am I struggling so hard to take a leap of faith that so many other families do easily?

Other people aren't you. You have valid concerns. And a lot of people who made the change "easily" are the ones who keenly felt the erosion of their financial and professional standing. It's not a minor concern.

I think you're smart to have an eye on what comes next. There may be--and please please please let there be--a long stretch of time between when the pandemic ends and when your child is in school. Keep your mind open to what you might want to do when school or child care make that possible, and also think about a financial arrangement now that gives you some of your own money. Awkward to start the conversation for sure, but I wonder how he would feel about going abruptly no-income himself, on purpose, working for the family indefinitely for no pay, while you supported everyone financially. The power often follows the money when healthy couples share power equally. Good talk to have.

My partner and I have fallen into the phase of quarantine where we grate on each other a lot of the time. Our apartment is just too small and cramped to house two people 24 hours a day. My partner was saying that he missed our positive interactions, which were all getting replaced by crabby bump-intos during the course of the workday and making our lunches. So we are trying a new thing where we dedicate an hour each day to positive quality time, being near each other on purpose and relaxing together in some way, watching a tv show, playing a game. My partner is really enjoying it and says that it's helping him feel closer to me, but for me it's still too much togetherness. If I just bumped into you in the kitchen twenty minutes ago while desperately trying to wrap up a work task, I'm not exactly dying to see you now that the hour has struck 8 o'clock. But I feel like a jerk for this!! An hour a day isn't really asking a lot, and it's not his fault that we are so oversaturated with quality time right now. How do both of our needs get met?

Can you add an hour a day, mirror image, where you have certain valued spaces to yourselves, no risk of interruption or bumps-into? 

Quality alone time and quality together time enhance each other. 

I’ve been sharing an apartment with my stepsister, “Jenna” for the past two years but now I’m moving 1.5 hours away and really looking forward to being on my own. Jenna is nice but spoiled and helpless and always looking for me to bail her out or figure things out for her. She attached herself to my friend group and is devastated if we so much as have coffee without her. Now she’s talking about moving to the same city as me even though I’ve made it clear I don’t need a roommate and my studio apt. will not have room for one. Her dad has promised to give her enough money to live on her own and my mom says there’s nothing I can do about it so I shouldn’t say anything. I’ve already told Jenna I’ll be busy with my new job and won’t have much time for her but I’m sure she’ll be blowing up my phone wanting to meet up, wanting help with some issue, wanting wanting wanting. If I ignore her, she’ll whine to my mom who will message me, point out my stepdad paid her portion of my college tuition and I SHOULD BE NICE and help Jenna out. Is there any way out of this?

Yes. Have the relationship with Jenna that you want, on your terms, and take the lumps from everyone for it. Don't be available for and responsive to every phone blowup, and let her whine to your mom, and let your mom message you, and hold your line wherever you want to hold it.


I "chose" a career path in a very niche field with limited job opportunities and a lot of people vying for those few spots. (Quotations marks around "chose" because I sort of just fell into it via a series of decisions without every really aiming for it.) Basically, every time I feel that it's time to move on to a new position, I have to uproot my life to a new location for a job. While I do enjoy certain things about working in my field, I am by no means passionate about it. I floundered a bit after my undergraduate degree, had some great experiences while I had no idea what to do with the rest of my life, then floundered a bit more as I went through two graduate programs. At this point in my life (approaching 40), I've accepted that I'm just not going to find a job that I'm really excited about, and that's okay. I try to fill my non-work life with things that make me happy. But I can no longer take the stress of knowing the next job search will be so arduous and ultimately is likely to force me to start over somewhere else...yet again. That was exciting in my 20s. It's not anymore. I started a new job a few months ago, moving from the east to the west coast. It's a beautiful part of the country and I convinced myself that I was up for the adventure. Turns out I wasn't. I desperately want to go back to my previous city -- where, for the first time since growing up, I felt at home. I have friends there, it was easy to visit other friends and family along the east coast, I was happy and comfortable. But there are no jobs for me in my "chosen" field. I desperately want to go back. Soon. I don't want to get comfortable here. The job is good and the pay is decent, but it's nothing special. I've devised this fantasy in my head that I can just quit my job here, go back east and find something low stress (even a couple part time jobs), and rethink my future in terms of career. Maybe seek out some sort of certificate program that can build on my current skills and lead me to a field with more job availability. This would mean a very significant pay cut, at least in the short term and the only reason I can even consider it is because I'd be living with my partner who could cover most living expenses. (His move with me to the west coast was delayed due to pandemic-related hiring freezes; he's still in a house with all my things and working the same east coast job. I don't want to ask him to follow through with uprooting his life along with me when I'm so unhappy here so we're both kind of in limbo. We've been able to see each other only once through all of this and I also desperately miss him.) I've always been focused on advancing my career and staying in the field that has also brought me significant student loan debt (just 3 more years to go on that though). After all the time an money I've invested into my career, I feel foolish thinking about abandoning it. And if I jump ship now, there's obviously no way to know if it will end up being the right choice. Maybe I'll end up in some miserable job with terrible pay and never really figure things out. Maybe it will take me months and months to find any work at all. Maybe I'm just depressed and looking for something external to fix that (rest assured, I am in therapy). Bottom line is, I want out. I want to go home. The longer I'm here, the more I'm convinced of that and the more miserable I become. For once in my life, I want to prioritize my happiness over chasing jobs across the country just because that's what I'm "supposed to do." I have enough savings & support that I could get by for a (little) while on less pay (or even no pay). Should I take the risk?

I read this whole thing this morning and will not reread it so as not to create more dead air than I usually do when I answer a question.

With that said: I can't recall one reason -not- to move back to where you'd rather be. There's a money risk, yes? So that's valid, but you don't seem to want this career anyway, so the retraining-while-making-wages-at-whatever sounds like a pragmatic answer to that.

The idea that having paid steep tuition for the honor of being in the wrong career means you have to stay in the wrong career never made sense to me. The way I see it, you have two choices: Spend a lot of money and a lot of time on something you don't want, or spend a lot of money on something you don't want but use the time on something you do want. As long as paying your loans isn't dependent on working in your field, there's nothing to hold you there.

I'll grant this is all easy for me to say, not staring down a second cross-country move in as many months, plus a pay cut, in a pandemic. 

But still. 

You sound pretty young, which is NOT snark. If you learn to set and hold boundaries now, it will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. Family can be a hard place to start, but it is so worth it. I wish I had learned those skills when I was young instead of middle-aged, but I'm thankful to have learned them even so late. It's perfectly possible to set firm boundaries and be a good, nice stepsister and daughter. They might try to pull you back into old ways, because that's what they're used to, but you are actually not doing them any favors by giving in. It would be a kindness (though she won't think so) to let Jenna learn other coping methods when she needs help and other ways to soothe her anxiety. It would be a kindness to your mom to take her out of the role of mediator by figuring out a polite response to guilt trips and repeating it over and over, kindly and firmly, until she figures out that it's a waste of her time and Jenna is doing just fine using her new coping skills--which might only mean that she finds another fix-it person for her, but be that as it may, that won't be you any more.

Here's why you're angsty. Yes, you love and trust your husband. Now. You don't know what he's going to do in the future. This is always true whether you work or not, but it's far more difficult to leave a spouse if you don't have your own means and financial independence. (Maybe save up $20/week somewhere?) You've got cold feet because if you step out of the workforce for even one second, you'll be overlooked by the literal hundreds of other already-employed candidates who do not need refreshers on anything. I'm sorry, but I get literally hundreds of job applicants, and if you're not currently employed, your chances are reduced. You've got cold feet because for all this talk of equality, he makes the money now. All of it. You may not consider it really yours. Every man I know who has a SAH wife cannot resist making a comment about this arrangement when the wife uses their money in an unapproved way. It's like living at home with your parents again. You're scared because now that you're the SAHP, your workload may go up because, hey, you're at home now and he works. Those are your roles so he may think he's off laundry duty.

Oh wow - if you have reservations do not do this! The next two years will be the worst job market of our lifetimes and I graduated college into the 2008 recession! Your husband could lose his job, I don't believe anyone who thinks their industry is secure. Freaking hospitals (nothing more essential than that!) are cutting salaries by 20% and laying off staff. Tell your job the pandemic has disrupted child care plans and start working again with either a sitter or a work-during-nap time schedule and see how you feel then. Working from home with an infant is not great but it's easier than with a toddler (ask me how I know) and it's way easier than having no income. Listen to your reservations - signed, someone whose SAHM Aunt was left by long-time husband at age 40 and whose father became disabled and unable to work at 50. Thank god my mother kept her job.

Can Cold Feet call her manager and talk frankly about options besides "quit or stay full time"? They might appreciate having her part-time, for X hours/week, she gets to stay working/engaged, still care for child...I realize these are less than ideal times to care for a kid and work from home, but worth a conversation.

Before you put in your two weeks' notice, see if it's possible to take a period of leave, even if unpaid. Even if you are planning to be a full-time parent long term, right this exact moment you are genuinely in a situation where your child care fell through because of COVID-19! Some employers have provisions for that. Also, see if your jurisdiction has some kind of unemployment benefits or similar for people who can't work during COVID-19 because of child care issues. This would give you a bit of a safety net during the transitional period, and you can always formally resign later.

This is in no way mandatory - but if you can set up a standing date with Jenna it might help. Maybe brunch every other weekend, something like that. Then when Jenna/ complains you can say - that doesn't work, but look forward to seeing you saturday. It might even help her calm down if she knows when she'll see you next.

Your anger with everyone may be a symptom of depression. It wouldn't hurt to consult your doctor before any drastic steps, to make sure.

Consider taking FMLA for a year if you are unsure. If you don't like being a SAHM, you will be able to go back to work.

Ah. Hope it applies with her employer, because it's ideal. Thanks.

I'm leaving 60 days rent because that's how much notice she asked for when I moved in. I will honor that because she's a widow too but I do not want to answer a lot of nosey questions, I don't want her knowing where I'm going or anything. Luckily I never gave her the name of the town I'l be moving to. As for giving notice - where's the fun in that? I was looking to see if there was a solid reason not to do this, something I hadn't considered but being "careful" or "respectful" doesn't cut it. Why did my husband and I save, invest, and build all of that wealth if I can't just this once use it to do something a little bit crazy?

Careful, I can happily discard with you as the road-wind blows through your hair.

Respectful, nope. Sorry to be a buzzkill. Saving and investing is so you can retire to your perfect house in the perfect part of the world. No need to flip anyone off on the way there.

FMLA is a maximum of 12 weeks. It's possible that your employer will give you more leave, but if so it's not FMLA and will have its own rules and restrictions that are different from FMLA.

Many employers are obligated to provide additional time off under (federal law) FFCRA, in some cases where employees need additional time off to care for children who don't have daycare due to coronavirus stuff. The law is in effect through year-end. Ask HR what other leave options might be available. Employers know that it's hard now for anyone with children at home, especially ones with wee tiny humans in the household.

I wonder if this mom has discussed with her employer at all her concerns regarding returning to work without childcare. Is it possible to return on a part-time basis? How are they handling other parents with young children? All parents, and I would assume all employers, have had to figure these things out over the last few months (mine did, and has been very understanding). FWIW, I left my job when my daughter was 8 months old (military spouse, so no real choice) and decided to try staying home. While I missed the paycheck, I REALLY missed the autonomy. Depends on the job, but imo, working is easier than staying home. I lasted six months. Definitely think hard about leaving a job right now.

I suggest that before you do anything else, is to talk to a career counselor. They may do some testing and then give you guidance. I went through that at my local community college for free because I lived in their county. I found it helpful and I have had a number of moves where the only person I knew was my new boss.

Great idea, thanks.

I ended up a SAHM. It’s really draining. I wasn’t really intending for this to be the path, but it made the most sense. My husband has never held it over me, he still does his share of household maintenance, I don’t have to justify my spending (there is a household budget, of course). But it’s really draining. My husband is doing the WFH thing now. Monday-Friday are still distinct, my days are literally all alike. If you want your job, figure out how to keep it. Don’t dive in the deep end if you aren’t sure it’s what you want.

I've linked to an interactive online tool to help workers determine if they qualify for paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave to cover time away from work for reasons related to the coronavirus. The tool guides workers through a series of questions to help them determine if the paid leave provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) apply to their employer. If the provisions do apply, the tool helps them learn whether they qualify for either paid sick leave or extended family and medical leave under that law. 

You guys really are the best. Thank you.

I guess the best reason is "Why be a glassbowl when you don't have to be?" Aren't there enough glassbowls in the world?

Today's last word. 

Thanks, have a great couple of weeks (I'm off July 3), and hope to see you here on July 10.

Or should I have just ended the chat without telling anyone, for fun.

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Carolyn Hax
Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997 as a weekly feature for The Washington Post, accompanied by the work of "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis. The column has since gone daily and into syndication, where it appears in over 200 newspapers. Carolyn joined The Post in 1992 as a copy editor in Style, and became a news editor before turning to writing full-time. She is the author of "Tell Me About It" (Miramax, 2001), and the host of a live online discussion on Fridays at noon on She lives in New England with her husband and their three boys.
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