Thursday, March 24, 2011

Well, Now I've Done It

In a rare "moment of clarity"--yes, I'm aware that for me these don't happen too often--I realized I had to leave my job.

I was returning from travel in Washington, D.C. where we had finished holding an annual meeting. I happened to have a huge part in the planning of it this year, so it was particularly anxiety-producing. All I could see was what went "wrong." Even if the wrongs were transparent to everyone else. But I digress.

So, it was really stressful and a lot of hard work. All of this was happening while concurrently at work I was in various stages of proposal development, trying to build a robust social media strategy and presence, and coordinating a whole bunch of this and that. And by "coordinating" I mean shivving a bunch of really smart and busy people to do X, Y, and Z by such-and-such a date. Herding cats, really. Oh and I didn't mention the content I needed to find time to write. There's more, but you get the idea.

I work at a nonprofit, ultimately funded by the Feds. Over the past three years, my take-home pay has gone down as my on-paper hours have been cut. My level of responsibility has gone up, and I've been doing a job at a level or so more than where I'm at for about two years. And then getting 75% of that, even though I'm often working full-time.

But all that wasn't what really did it. My kids need more parental time and attention due to a few factors I don't really want to go into here. It has been very, very difficult for my husband and I to juggle our hectic and pressure-filled jobs while being able to meet our kids' needs.

He, however gets paid about 3X more than I do.

So I was driving home from the airport, and put in a call home to let my husband know I was on my way. It was roughly 6pm. When he answered, he sounded exhausted. It was Friday, his day to work from home and be there for the kids when they got off the bus. Even though they get home at 3:30, he still has work to do until 5 or 6 or whenever his work for the day is done.

"I'm sorry we won't be here when you get home," he said, "but the kids are starving, and I have absolutely no bandwidth to cook for them. We're going to Friendly's."

I assured him it was OK. I was going to go home, grab a glass a wine, and soak in my tub anyway.

We said goodbye. But something was nagging at me. I thought about how when I travel (several times a year, more than he does) how much slack he picks up. And how much he does, generally. And all the things that my kids have been needing from me, as well as things I don't have the time or energy to be properly "on top of." And how his job has often taken back-seat to mine, even though, salary-wise, he is really the breadwinner.

It suddenly became clear: I cannot do this anymore. It is just not worth it.

If my compensation was better, I probably would have held out longer. More money buys things like tutors and relaxing vacations. But I wasn't making enough for these benefits anyway.

So, I gave my notice and I'll be working until June when the kids get out of school. I know that this will be hard. My kids can be a handful. I don't relish the thought of being on a tight budget.

But my family is so worth it. And that's ultimately what matters most.


  1. Congratulations! It's scary to step out in a new direction, but it sounds like it's the right choice for you.

  2. Good luck, it sounds like the right thing to do.

  3. Thanks for the support folks. It's scary. Even though I am 100% sure this is the "right" decision, there are the money worries, and concerns about what could happen in the future...

    I have confidence, though, that I will find a way to bring in some income that does not compromise the space I've created. Ultimately, I am pretty optimistic. Maybe that makes me slightly crazy.

  4. I have no doubt you'll make this work for you - and be happier with it, Suzanne. :) If you like, I can send any freelancing or writing-from-home opps your direction? While I don't have kids, it was really stressful when I first left the corporate world, but it was one of the best decisions of my life. You're an amazing person, so things will work out because you will make them do so. *Hugs*

  5. Since I work at the same company, all of this sounds really familiar....If my kids were the age that yours are, I may be thinking of making the same decision. You are a great mom and a great worker Suzanne, and I think that you are making a responsible decision that will benefit your family for years to come. EDC will still be there years from now to accept you back with open arms if you have room for them in the future. In the meantime though, I look forward to hearing more about your writing!