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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Working Swing Shift Is Pressured to Stay on the Job

DEAR ABBY: My hubby and I come from very different backgrounds. He grew up in a community where all the moms had to work. I grew up in one where most of the moms did not. Our marriage was perfect until we had a baby.

After our first child was born, my hubby made clear that it was unacceptable for me to leave my career or reduce my working hours. I never realized I would have the desire to be a stay-at-home mom or work part-time until I became a mom.

For the last several years, I have chosen to work swing shifts so I can be available for my children during the mornings. But this has taken such a toll on my health that I have had to get antidepressant prescriptions to cope with juggling all of this.

Recently, I told my husband I would like to work an earlier shift so my health can improve. Again he insists this is unacceptable because of the reduced pay I'd receive plus the high cost of child care.

He's a wonderful father to the children, and aside from this sole issue, we have no other problems. He makes me feel like a work mule, though, always trying to squeeze every last dollar out of me I can earn. I don't want a divorce. I do love him. I'm considering telling him my job is requiring me to switch shift times, which isn't true. Is it ever appropriate and acceptable to be dishonest to your spouse? -- WORK MULE MAMA

DEAR MAMA: Your husband's priorities appear to be out of whack, but I don't think you should lie to him. Repeat that the shift you are working is taking a toll on your health and that antidepressants aren't a cure for what's ailing you.

A husband is not supposed to be a dictator. As long as the two of you can make it financially, you should be able to set your own hours. Inform your doctor about everything you have told me and get off the medication. As much as you love your husband, you are not a "mule." If you continue on the path you're on, you will weaken your immune system and risk becoming seriously ill. How will you parent your children (or work) then?

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