My breaking point arrived the day I agreed one too many times to cover a shift for my co-workers, knowing the disaster it would create at home. I immediately regretted the decision, knowing at the same time why I had made the choice to say yes.
I made the choice because I care so deeply. I care about being a spouse and mother. But I also care about being dependable, helpful, and a great employee and co-worker. I care about being a friend, a professional, and about contributing to the community.
But I must prioritize.
I don't fit well into part-time positions. Part-time positions in our society seem viewed with the impression that you are uncommitted, lackadaisical, and uninterested in mental or professional growth. They are entry-level, designed this way, and only leave room for promotion if changing to full-time. I struggle. I fought to prove that, even in this role I couldn't progress from if maintaining part-time hours, I could still contribute. I could still be a useful and integral part of the team. But I was losing the fight.
I had been working and being a stay at home mother, half and half, for a year. I no longer felt I was succeeding at either, and in that moment, I realized with clarity that it was a juggling act I no longer chose to sustain.
My boss mentioned that my resignation letter had been extremely brief. She and her supervisor met with me and offered numerous options to adjust my schedule, location, hours and days to allow me to continue working the position I had held with them for a year. But I had made up my mind; I was done. I was done with the juggle, the frustration, the guilt and the hassle. I was done letting down my son, done watching my husband function through exhaustion and done feeling like I was the opposite of a team player at work, partially involved and unavailable for the hours that needed coverage. I enjoy feeling accomplished, contributing and experiencing growth, change, and progress. But my chosen home life didn't allow me to pursue any of that in my workplace and my work life was negatively affecting my family life on a daily basis.
Sacrificing my family life for the modicum of "professional life" my part-time entry level position was offering me was no longer worth the trade off.
I took the time to write out a full explanation for my boss, to replace the brief note I had originally given. I would love to hear your experiences with these decisions in your own life if you care to share in the comments.
The fault for my resignation rested solely on my shoulders, no one else. I had continued my pattern of always trying to solve problems on my own first before reaching out for help. In doing so, I had let the situation go too far and too long to repair.
But in my defense, I had learned early in my variety of employment situations to keep motherhood as separate from my work life as possible. I had picked up at previous positions that motherhood did not mix well with being considered a dependable employee. I had overheard the comments as a mother called out one too many times when her child was sick. I had listened to complaints when an employee could not help cover in a last minute situation because her child needed to be picked up from daycare or had a function to attend. The lesson was repeated over and over in a variety of contexts. Motherhood and work life were to be kept separate.
When my two co-workers who shared my same role at work asked for a change to their schedule due to a second job for one and a new school semester for the other, I refrained from saying that I couldn't move from the mid-day times I was working to cover the late afternoon and evening times that were now needed. Their reasons were work and school, mine were that I now had to drive in rush hour traffic, increasing my four and half hours gone to five and a half, making pumping a necessity for my nursing child. My reasons were that now my husband had to take the children to their evening activities instead of getting to nap before his night shift that he was working as a cyber security analyst. What changed is that now instead of a rest from caring for the children for a few hours before going into work, my husband now had to get my oldest ready for soccer, prepare and feed the baby a bottle, drive them to and from soccer, and get back home just in time to eat, change and go to work. Work and school conflicts seemed more acceptable than that I didn't want to pump, that I wanted to take my oldest to her sports, that my baby fought and got frustrated drinking from a bottle and that I wanted my husband to have some time for himself away from the children before work.
That day as I answered a phone call while on my way to work, and said yes, I could cover a longer shift than planned, I immediately felt sickening frustration at the chain of events this decision created. I called my husband to let him know I would be working later, knowing his reaction before I said it, hearing him realize that he would now have to carry out all the evening duties for our family before going into his own job that night. It was time to stop.
I turned in my resignation letter later that week, finished out two weeks with the company and never looked back.
My home life is more precious than any career path. If priorities must be chosen, I know which way the balance will tip every time. A boss can quickly replace me, my husband and children cannot.
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Thank you for considering my words and perhaps sharing your own below.