As far as time, money, away times from home, etc...that's a pretty grim and discouraging picture you painted there. I know that this stuff comes with the territory but is it really that bad?
It can be. Just to give you an idea. When I was working for an airline in Northern Ontario, the pilots rotated 2 weeks on 2 weeks off. During that time "on" they flew til they're monthly limits. In fact at the end of the two weeks we were trying to schedule routes and times just so the pilots could stay legal. Even then we had to phone customers and tell them we couldn't fly up until the day or two while we hunted down the next pilot in the rotation. Money wise the captains flying the big boys $100,000/year and were hand bombing the cargo off. The captains of the single engines making 40,000ish? i think? anyways again hand bomb off, and deal with passengers. Oh and they guys just out of an aviation school or just got their CPL made (then) 9/hr working 40-60 hour work weeks, in the hanger hand bombing cargo on and off for a year before moving into the f/o seat on the single engine. Oh and last thing, 4-5 hour drive at 80-100kph just to goto wal-mart. Nearest big city 6 hours min.
If you asked any of those ground guys who moved up into the planes what they thought... Well I'm sure you'd get a lot of 4 letter words but they wouldn't change what they did.
But on the other hand, my PPL instructor got his instructors license when he was late 30's, put some time in instructing, something like 2 to 3 years, and then got his dream job of flying biz jets.
Or a girl I know got her CPL, then float, and then when to Northern Manitoba and worked for a float plane outfit. Her first year (spring to fall) she worked the dock loading Beavers with drums of fuel and luggage, and generally heavy crap, she got some flying time in. Second year she flew full time in the Beavers. Last year they asked her to come back and be their Chief Pilot.
Of course I have more stories of people I've known and meet during my time working in aviation, so if there is not enough motivation let me know.