If you would have asked me if leaving a long-term job is wise years ago, I would have screamed “no” from the mountaintops. For a long time, I believed there was honor in remaining at a job for years. Longevity looked great on my resume, but my perception has changed now that I’ve reached my first full year of motherhood.
This year has been eye opening in ways online birth courses and maternity books could not have prepared me for. My job understands I am a mother before I am an employee, but the bad news is that I’m noticing a pattern—one that makes me feel that a change is long overdue.
The Logistical Challenges Weigh on Me
First, I live in an area that is a one-hour commute to my job—two hours daily. Truthfully, it’s common for people to live at least 30 minutes away from their jobs where I live in Georgia, but I had no idea how much of a burden it would become after giving birth. The final straw came when I had to work late one night but figured I still had more than enough time to pick up my son from daycare. What I didn’t anticipate was sitting in accident traffic for nearly two hours.
Luckily, I was able to get in contact with my son’s grandfather so he could be picked up, but the experience filled me with dread. There have also been times when my son’s daycare called because he got sick in the middle of the day and I had to leave work to get him. In those instances, the daycare usually gives parents a 30-minute window for child pick-ups, but it’s impossible for me to do that. My worst fear is that my son could become terribly ill while at daycare and I’m unable to get him within a short time frame.
But It’s Still Hard to Leave
Aside from the logistical side of deciding to become more present for my family, the other truth is that I’ve been grappling with the idea of leaving my current position for years. Each time I worked up the nerve to finally do so, I either talked myself out of it or a situation came up that required me to stay put a little longer. Even now, I feel like I may be looking for a reason to justify why I’ve stayed so long. There are several obvious reasons why I should stay.
I have sick/personal and vacation time off, which has come in handy as I’ve navigated my first year of motherhood. In addition, I’ve been steadily contributing to my retirement fund for the past eight years and have built a positive rapport with my supervisor and coworkers.
Choosing Growth for Myself
Being able to be in a position where I’m not far away from my family and one that allows me to pursue my goals full time is what makes sense for me now. I’m grateful I do have a stable job, but I also know there is not any room for growth. This means I would remain in the same position with less than a dollar’s worth of a raise each year the business remains open. So I’m less afraid to walk away from a job I’ve grown in and have now outgrown.
I’m grateful I have a stable job, but I also know there is not any room for growth.
Aside from my personal ambition and desire to be closer to my family, I’m no longer willing to accept that for myself anymore. I know I deserve more, especially after eight years, and I’m finally confident enough to ask for it, even if this means I have to walk through uncharted territory to get to something that aligns with the space I’m in. If I can be patient enough to learn from a role I was never interested in, I can be patient enough to work for the career as well as the life I truly want.
Also, I work in the same building as my mom. Shocking, right? Ironically, my older sister worked with our mom for about the same amount of time before she began pursuing her career as a pharmacist and starting her own family unit. Our paths may not necessarily mirror each other’s, but I feel confident it’s time for me to forge my own career path.
That’s not to say that it isn’t a hard decision to leave my job—because it is. My employer and coworkers have become familiar faces, not to mention I’ve carpooled with my mom the entire time we’ve worked together. She’s the person who convinced my boss to hire me full time at the age of 23. That is something I’ll always be grateful for and a part of me is terrified to leave.
Although we have drawn necessary boundaries at work and are able to function as colleagues, my mom has helped me become acclimated in an industry I knew nothing about. I went from working in retail to working on projects in the legal industry. Having her guide me in this area of my life has been nothing short of miraculous, yet I know I can’t stay under her shadow forever.
Realizing What’s Best for My Family Right Now
I always joke that I’ve never been fearless, just stubborn enough to forge ahead with my decisions. However, I don’t feel as if I’m being stubborn about choosing my family. I’m a mom whose collective desires, perceptions, and long-term goals have changed, and that’s OK.
As much as I know where I stand in my life, deciding to leave a long-term job to be more available for family is not always financially feasible for everyone. It’s easy to tell someone to drop everything and pursue their heart’s desires, but realistically, there are obligations when you have a family; it’s not just about you anymore. So in preparing to leave my job, I’ve tried to make sure I’m in a position to do so with intention. This has looked like polishing my resume, applying for positions that offer flexibility, budgeting, and saving.
Motherhood is full of changes. Many of us miss aspects of our prior selves, but who’s to say we can’t find joy in who we become over the years? Becoming a mother put certain priorities in focus for me, and I’m excited to pursue something new.