Woman is torn between career and motherhood

Dear Amy: I’m a happily married woman with a great career, and I’m the breadwinner in our home. My husband does artwork for commissions, which makes him very little money. I’m happy with our arrangement.

The problem is that I cannot decide whether I want to have children.

My husband wants kids, but says he’ll support my decision either way.

If we had them, my husband would be a stay-at-home dad while I returned to work. I think I’d be very happy with that.

On some days, I want nothing more than to have a child with my husband. Other days, I dread the thought of it and worry that I will spend too much time working when I have them. I have always been ambitious career-wise, and changing that would devastate me. I love working and I don’t want to stop.

I’m nearly 30, and I have so many family members asking me when they can start planning a baby shower. I’ve also had plenty of people tell me that I am selfish for having such a big career when my mom is anxious for a grandchild.

Amy, I’m terrified of making the wrong decision. How do I make this choice? Also, and tell me honestly, am I selfish for loving my career so much and not wanting to give it up to have children?

— Undecided

Dear Undecided: I fail to see how it is "selfish" for you to want to live your own best life, doing work you love and are committed to.

This question of whether you owe it to the world to have children is rarely, if ever, asked of men.

Men and women have traditionally been pigeonholed into specific roles that are constricting and sometimes feel inauthentic. As society shifts away from this gender-based domestic binary, men are increasingly stepping up in terms of committing to living their own best lives, including being homemakers and at-home parents.

Please, do not even entertain the ridiculous notion that you are somehow beholden, and that one of your functions is to provide family members with a reason to host a baby shower.

If you have a job that can fully support a household, as well as a wonderful husband who wants children and wants to commit to being a full-time parent, then — halleluiah — you’ve got the primary pieces in place.

Every working parent finds both joy and additional stresses as they juggle their commitments. It was ever-thus. But having a willing and happy partner at home will allow you to continue to rock it at work.

You have several years to make this choice. I assure you, you won’t make "the wrong decision," because there is no wrong decision. There is only life in its infinite complication.

Dear Amy: We live in a suburb on a typical 50-foot lot.

We enjoy gardening and have substantial plantings in which we invest much time, energy and expense.

However, our neighbor’s kids and their friends use their adjoining yards for soccer and other ball-related games.

They especially like to use our garage as a backstop for their balls (we have seen it, heard it, and have the damage to prove it).

Many times their ball damages our plants, and always without acknowledgment or apology.

We recently approached the parents about it; they claim the problem is our fault because our plants (in large containers) are situated at the edge of our driveway (on our property).

Amy, we have been here over 30 years and these neighbors are relative newcomers. We don’t want to be difficult, but what should we do?

— Negative Neighbor

Dear Neighbor: You should deal with the children directly when they smash soccer balls into your garage or planters. Presumably their parents also have a garage they can use as a backstop. Simply tell them, "Hey, guys, you’re going to have to play facing a different direction. I don’t like it when you smash the ball into my garage and plants."

In short, I’m suggesting that you need to get comfortable being the, "Kids, get off my lawn" guy. It sounds as if their folks should invest in a portable backstop.

Dear Amy: I can’t believe you didn’t come down harder on "Caught in the Middle," the ridiculous parents who put up with their 20-year-old daughter shacking up with her boyfriend in their house.

You all need to get real.

— Disgusted

Dear Disgusted: These parents had delivered an ultimatum; their daughter had chosen to move out. Seems real enough to me.