Nursing is meaningful, lucrative, stable, and full of variety. It can be frustrating and physically exhausting, but nurses are never "stuck" in their current jobs -- they can always find a different kind of nursing job somewhere else, in a heartbeat. There's enough variety for everyone to find their niche. And every day in hospital nursing is different, if that is what you choose to do. I returned to school for nursing b/c of the wonderful variety and incredible reward of working with vulnerable people day after day. Nurses KNOW that they "make a difference" in people's lives -- how many other fields can say the same thing??
Practical info, since you're a Dad and supporting a family (I'm in the Seattle area):
After interviewing for my first nursing position out of school, I was offered ALL FIVE positions either the same day or the day after the interview! Pay in the Seattle area for a new grad is about $21-$23/hr start (depending on where you work), +shift differentials. The shift differentials are approximately and extra $2.50/hr for second shift, $3/hr for night shift, and $4/hr extra for weekends. There are "double time" or "time and a half" bonuses for working holidays, double shifts, or coming in extra when they need you. You can work 8 or 12 hour shifts, any day of the week and any shift (ie. 1st, 2nd, 3rd). Experienced nurses that I work with make around $30/hr base. Local travel companies pay anywhere between $23-30/hr base, +all benefits, +a housing allowance (several nurses I know get an extra 2K a month housing allowance on TOP of their salaries). You need a year of experience as an RN before working for a travel company.
Several nurses I know also do extra work on the side. You can work as an "expert witness" for law firms, making around $100/hr. To do this, you need to have at least 2 years nursing experience and be certified as an "expert" nurse (additional coursework). You can also do technical writing on the side, also for good money.
Many nurses return to school for Mater's degrees -- Nurse practitioners, Clinical Nurse Specialists, and Nurse Anesthetists, among many other options. These are obviously personally and financially rewarding options for the RN. For example, Nurse Anesthetists make 100K a year! (lots of liability, though).