BYH I just found out that there are 3 million more registered voters than there are people living in the US. I wonder...

When having a second child means adding a soul-sucking suburban commute

Carolyn Hax

Carolyn Hax


Carolyn Hax

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Q I’m really happy with my wonderful toddler son, husband, dream job, apartment, etc. My husband is really happy working for himself, and we both love our adorable, walkable community. We have flexible enough schedules that we get lots of time with our son. When he’s sleeping/napping, we have free time to chill or work on creative hobbies that are important to us. And we still also have time for friends and family.

After a lot of research and many, many “let’s game this out” discussions, we’ve come to the conclusion that we’d need to make really dramatic changes to afford another kid. We’d have to move far out, I’d need a higher paying job, my husband would need to give up his business. With working longer hours and a longer commute, I’d have a lot less time and energy to enjoy my kid(s) if I had another one. My husband is pretty sure we’d both be miserable with all we’d have to give up ... and he’s probably right.

I’m mid-30s, so we can’t just wait a few years.

While I have a deep emotional desire to have another kid, logically I don’t think it’s worth it — but I feel like such a spoiled brat because the “sacrifices” we’d make are things most people don’t even have in the first place. Most people drive everywhere and work long hours at jobs they feel so-so about, etc. That’s just life!

So I’m worried we’re going to regret that we didn’t just suck it up and grow up to have another kid.

Are we being too self-indulgent? — Time to Start Adulting?

A So that I’m clear: Your definition of “adulting” requires drudgery and comprises a long commute, a soul-sucking job, forfeited entrepreneurship, sacrificed kid time, driving over walking, and the dismissal of your main pleasures in life as the spoils of the spoiled?

And choosing otherwise is self-indulgent?

You need either to “game this out” sober next time, or see your rationalizations for what they are.

I should say, what they’re covering up.

“We’d be miserable” — that’s your husband talking.

“That’s just life”; “suck it up”; “grow up”; “most people”; “logically”; “spoiled brat” — that’s not you talking so much as it is an intensely self-negating assumed identity trying to talk for you.

And it’s not even doing that. Instead, it’s just co-opting what you imagine to be the voices of society at large, and using them to shout down what you really believe.

But aren’t ready or able to say.

You can’t make good decisions, though, until you admit — to yourself, and then to your husband — the truth you’re burying in all of these feints and excuses.

Is it that you want another child, logic and cramped apartments be damned?

Is it that you don’t want another child, and feel guilty for thinking that?

Is it that you resent the unyielding either-or of one city kid or two suburban ones?

Or [blank]?

Whatever it is, step away from self-negating hypotheticals and have the courage to speak in your own voice. That’s what it means to “adult.”


Q I snapped at a dear friend last week. I immediately apologized and have apologized again since, but she is still quite cool.

Here’s the context: I am renovating a house. As with every home renovation in the history of the world, it is taking longer, costing more and creating higher stress than I anticipated or even realized was humanly possible. Over dinner, my friend asked repeatedly for details even after I told her it was a sore spot, and she mentioned all the contractors I should have hired who would be doing a better job than the ones I have.

I snapped at her — I admit it — and told her the woulda/coulda/shoulda was not helpful. I did not make a scene or raise my voice; no hush fell over the restaurant, no one stopped and stared.

But I was out of line, and I apologized.

Is there anything I can do beyond apologizing? Is time the great healer? — Snapped

A Time is a remarkable healer, yes. However, it works only on people who are open to its effects, so if your friend wants to be huffy about this in perpetuity, then neither you nor time can stop her.

This hardly seems like the offense someone would carry to her grave, sure — but acting wounded at all is already cheeky on her part. Where’s her apology for butting in, judging, told-you-so-ing and showing utter disregard for the polite roadblock(s) you set out to discourage her?

Assuming your account is accurate and complete, your saying “the woulda/coulda/shoulda isn’t helpful” was perfectly appropriate — which leaves only your tone as the potential problem. An apology was all you owed in that case.

So, now you accept the next move is hers — and in the meantime, perhaps, you wonder how big is the rest of the issue-berg that would explain her unapologetic and outsize interest in, then enduring offense over, someone else’s house.

Email Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.


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