Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

New Mom Reluctantly Uses Bathroom as Pumping Station

DEAR ABBY: I was a stay-at-home mom for many years and enrolled in college when my youngest entered kindergarten. I held various part-time (and later full-time) dead-end jobs to supplement my husband's income. It took 15 years, but I finally graduated with a B.A. in history, although I have since discovered there isn't much I can do with my degree.

After almost 30 years of marriage, my husband decided he wanted a divorce. I am now on my own and struggling to survive. I have no marketable skills, can't afford to attend school full-time because I must work in order to have benefits, and don't have the money to pay for more training without going into further debt. I don't know how I'll ever be self-supporting.

My current job pays $10 an hour, the benefits are good, but I don't really like my job or see myself ever earning a higher hourly wage. If it wasn't for alimony, I'd be even worse off, but that won't last forever. (I have three years left.)

I'm thankful that my kids are on their own and don't need my support, but they can't help me either. What options are there for someone in my situation? -- FRUSTRATED IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR FRUSTRATED: You are an educated, literate, mature college graduate. You could make some executive an excellent, competent personal assistant. Depending upon what the requirements are in your state, you might also be able to be a teacher's assistant in one of the schools.

Contact an employment agency and ask if it can give you a skill assessment. I am sure you could find a job where your attributes would be appreciated if you start looking.