10 years ago, I was forced into a life (that I would later embrace) beyond my choosing. For a long time I blamed others, I stewed in injustice, wallowed in self-pity and allowed myself to make bad decisions because I was only worth bad results. Whether we make a choice or have it made for us; each decision and reaction we make has it's flipside.
For the better part of 10 years I've worked alone. I often lied to myself and said it was because I wanted to be around the kids, be at home, be a father who was actively involved in the life of his family. While that's partially true, I stayed home because I was angry and afraid. I was angry at myself — for my choices, my lack of self-control, my indecision — and at others for giving up quickly, for acting childish. I was afraid of trusting anyone, of being rejected, of having to start over. While being at home did ultimately allow me more time and flexibity with my kids — it's been a burden on my self-esteem and our financial stability.
In life even (what we perceive as) a good decision can have negative consequences. Everything we do is a sacrifice for something else. The flexibility of being at home, setting my own hours — being able to spend time with the kids (drive them to school, help out in a pinch on a moments notice), have lunch with them when they're home, etc — also meant that I was (am) never paid consistently, keeping us from being able finanically do many many things. It meant that I constantly felt (feel) unable to provide for my family — unsuccessful, stressed (about money and completely projects, getting new clients), and pathetic. But, if I had a full time job, with a steady paycheck, I'd be unable to help make dinner, grocery shop, drive the kids to school, see the kids every now and then during summers (or when they were in preschool to just do lunch with them). Neither choice is more right than the other; just different sacrifices.
Ultimately though, it isn't the immediate sacrfices that matter, but the potential long term rewards (that sometimes, we don't even see fulfilled). It matters to my kids that I was and am a father who is around, who put life above work, who could be at home with them when they were sick. My stress and my self-esteem aren't things that matter to them.
Stop worrying about making the right decisions based on the pressures of what is acceptable or normal or popular — make decisions that make the most sense for you and your family and your life and own it, accept it and do it the best that you possibly can.