Success and lack thereof

My daughter recently got a new job and I’m really thrilled for her. She was unemployed for over a year and managed to get a really, really good job—especially considering that she’s technically a high-school dropout.

Where I got to feeling a bit uncomfortable (and jealous and insecure) was when I found out tonight that she’s actually making more now than my husband did when he first moved down here. Needless to say, she’s making more than I ever have myself, and she’s only 23.

Where I’m deeply conflicted is that my husband has decided that neither she nor her boyfriend (who moved in with us a few months ago and earns considerably more than she does) should have to pay rent. Her boyfriend lived at home before moving in with us, where he also didn’t have to pay rent; though for whatever it’s worth, his family makes quite a bit more than we do. But hell, we’re even covering my daughter’s cell phone bill.

It was one thing to let her live here rent-free when she wasn’t working. But for god’s sake, she’s 23 and is now earning more than my husband did at age 40. Her boyfriend is 26 and has a similar lack of expenses. By their ages, we already had kids and had been supporting ourselves for a few years. My husband said he doesn’t want to charge them rent so they can save to move out on their own, but with her only expense being car insurance, she can easily pay a nominal amount of rent and still save up to move out at the same time.

To be honest, it feels like we’re being taken advantage of, and she expressed similar feelings, saying she feels guilty about how much she’s making since she’s not paying us anything. I wouldn’t expect them to share the expenses equally or anything, just to contribute something. My daughter and her boyfriend combined earn about the same as what my husband and I do, yet we’re shouldering all the expenses. They’re spending their money on food delivery nearly every day and expensive musical gear and computer stuff.

But beyond that, it leaves me with considerable feelings of insecurity about what I’ve achieved in my own life. If I have a college degree and am 46 years old, it makes me feel like a total loser that my 23-year-old daughter who only has a high school equivalency degree is doing much better than I ever have.

I don’t begrudge her any of her success or resent it in any way; I’m truly happy for her. At this point, she still intends to return to college in the future to become a doctor. My youngest son also wants to become a doctor. They’re both extremely bright (as is my middle son, whose motivation is still lacking) and they deserve to be as successful as they can be. I hope they achieve it.

But I also wonder if it’s already too late to turn things around for myself. On the one hand, I’m on disability for a progressive brain disease, so maybe I can’t ever achieve more than I have so far.

Yet on the other hand, maybe it’s not too late to still become more financially successful than I have been. I don’t think I want to do it in the writing field—at least not freelancing—which is tough because that’s all I’ve done for most of the past 20 years.

Starting over isn’t impossible, though, especially in the area where I live. Considering the fact that my daughter managed to get a good job despite not having the experience or education required, I should be able to do the same. Now that so many jobs are remote, that also works in my favor because I’ve done remote work for so long.

At the same time, I think about the last time I was looking for jobs and I didn’t have a lot of success. I don’t think I interview as well as I once did. But I also wasn’t going into it like I was starting over. Instead, I was interviewing for what were essentially entry-level jobs and describing myself to interviewers as a seasoned professional writer. I might have more luck if I present myself as making a career change.

I know that I’m capable of doing good work. But I also know that I have two big strikes against me: not understanding office politics at all and having severe sleep problems that make getting up at 6 am to commute to work nearly impossible. Last time I tried it, it only took 6 weeks for my health to collapse due to prolonged lack of sleep.

Can I change my body clock? Previous efforts over the years haven’t been very successful. Yet maybe I can still find a job that works with my natural body schedule. Freelance writing can’t be the only thing I can do.

But what if it turns out that I can’t do more than what I am? At least I’ll know that my kids are capable of doing better than I did. But I would also have to come to terms with the fact that for whatever reasons, I myself just didn’t have what it takes.


  1. skinnyhobbit says:

    In my culture where adult children live with parents until they marry, it’s expected that they pay their own bills and contribute to the household income eg by giving parents an allowance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Holly says:

      Yes, I think that’s similar to what I have in mind as far as calling it an allowance. By no means would I be expecting to receive enough to split the bills, just enough of a contribution to show they’re not abusing our generosity. Admittedly, I also believed they would be saving their money so my daughter could get a different car and they could move out, but based on the spending habits I see (regularly ordering food delivery and buying expensive toys) I’m not sure that’s happening.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. skinnyhobbit says:

        Yup, though tbh in my culture, often allowances are enough to split shared bills and some adult children become the main providers.

        I think you’re expecting fairness from them, and it doesn’t seem they’re planning to save and move…

        My twin pretty much does that (expensive toys, game micro transactions which add up), parents still pay for his bills… not being responsible.

        Expensive toys would be OK if they were financially independent, paying their living expenses and saving more than enough etc but it sure doesn’t look that way.

        I like nice things too but savings always come first to me and I invest a portion, pay all my bills etc etc then get nice things. (When I worked. Now I can’t so my savings literally are keeping me afloat during this pandemic)

        Liked by 1 person

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