I resigned from my job yesterday. Yep – Justice Kennedy and I both.
My boss didn’t see it coming, and neither did I. I mean, I’d been grappling with this decision for a long time, but, I think, deep down, I didn’t know the grappling was real. Deep down I knew I could continue to succeed at the impossible – being pretty much a full-time stay at home mom (with some help) AND working – living and dying by the deadlines, relying on some extreme efficiencies I’d built over the years with my spreadsheet-related OCD tendencies…
But I was wrong. It was growing increasingly challenging, juggling all of this… There became this sense that my house of cards was dangerously close to tumbling, and this feeling never left me. And although it didn’t tumble (and maybe never would have), my mind was flooded by some sudden realizations that can only be grossly oversimplified as, “In every free moment, I work. This is no way to live. I’ll never be able to get these years back.” And my energy had dried up. It was as though Simon Cowell were in my head, “Christine – I’m sorry, but you’ve reached the end of the line.”
So last Wednesday all was right in my world full of many things that are so not right. And by Thursday, the aforementioned realizations washed over me, and I made the agonizing decision to resign in July. But then, on Monday, I decided that, “No, I will actually be resigning on Wednesday (two days later) over lunch.”
I call it an agonizing decision because, in many ways, it was. And, as I continue to process it, it still is. Not because I think I made the wrong decision, rather because life is complicated, dontchaknow? I have so many strong memories associated with this job…
I started auditing my current employer nearly ten years ago. This company was my biggest audit client, and they were so tough and complicated that previous auditors had run for the hills. I’d frequently come home crying over how challenging the work was. The economy was horrible at the time. I thought surely my employer would see how stupid I was and fire me.
But a little over two years later I received an unexpected phone call from this client (specifically, my now boss). “How would you like to come work for us?” She asked. I was shocked, and I eventually told her, “Yes – I would be interested in coming to work for you.” But, by then, a partner at my audit firm as well as the president of this company had decided it would be in the company’s best interest to interview a few other candidates. “I want someone who’s 28. Or maybe even 30,” the president said. I was only 25.
So I went through an extensive interview process, competed against people five to ten years my senior, and somehow still landed the job. The job came with a huge raise, and, for a while, my salary was nearly double Mark’s, and, trivial as it may sound, I was proud of this, and Mark had no problem with it either, calling me his “sugar mama,” finding ways to spend what he made and what I made. (This obviously isn’t the case any longer – although my resignation will require a lifestyle adjustment, we aren’t giving up two thirds of our income.) But, from day one, I had this sense that I was an underdog and thus needed to prove myself – prove to them that they got it right when they took a chance on me and that I was worth every dime that they were paying me and maybe even more.
And prove myself I did. I learned the ins and outs of a strange niche industry and developed efficiencies and created systems from scratch… I worked late nights, dreamt complex Excel formulas… I built solid relationships with my boss and the presidents and vice presidents of our various subsidiaries. I formed lasting friendships. It was a great job with a great company – I pictured staying with this company forever, and I think they pictured me there too.
And then Matthew died, and, although most people were supportive, some very important people hurt me in some big ways, and I didn’t think these relationships could ever be repaired. However, much to my surprise, everything did become repaired again.
They became the most perfect employer, allowing me more flexibility than I ever could have imagined once Joel and Fredrik came along. Had they not been so great, I would have quit a long time ago. I constantly thought, “This job isn’t replaceable – I’ll be sorry if I somehow let it go.” And this has been the prevailing thought that’s kept me going over the past several months.
When I returned to work after Matthew died, I worked with my office light off and my door closed. I thought this would only last a few weeks or months maybe. But months and years ticked by, and the light never did come back on. While there is certainly light in my life now, I think this is sort of a metaphor for my job situation… For some reason, or for a myriad of reasons, I don’t feel as though I ever quite regained my footing, professionally speaking, which I think has also been part of my deciding to let go as well.
I’m excited about the decision, overall, but it doesn’t mean I’m not struggling. I took immense pride in my career, and it, as well as this company, has been a huge part of who I am. I’m thrilled to be with my two living boys full-time, but it will be a major adjustment in so many ways, so I’m also terrified.
Although I’ve been home with them for months, I’ve always had help, and there will come a day in the very near future when I won’t have as much (or maybe any) help. Also, in some ways, I feel like I’m leaving behind something I’m good at for something I’m horrible at, as I often don’t feel super confident as a mother, especially a stay at home mother… Additionally, I feel, at least on some level, that I’ve failed. I pictured being able to “do it all,” and I’ve long believed I should be able to “do it all,” but I’ve since come to realize that I can’t do it all, at least not at the same time, and certainly not happily.
But I am trying to stay focused on the positives, because there are many. I’ll now be able to devote my full energy and attention to the boys in the most formative years of their lives. I’ll have more time to take the boys places without worrying that I should be working instead. I won’t have to hire (and also fire!) nannies. I’ll have more time for myself in the evenings instead of spending every free second of my time doing accounting. And who knows what other opportunities might come my way now that I’ve freed myself of this huge load.
Telling my boss went relatively smoothly. (Though I ugly cried the entire time – like through the whole lunch, into a salad that I barely ate.) She was extremely supportive of my decision, and there’s a chance I’ll continue working like five hours per month as a consultant (if they can’t figure out my spreadsheets!)… We’ll see.
Since resigning I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted from me, but I’ve also remained sporadically weepy about it, even though, again, I know it is the right decision.
Another fun tidbit… On my way home from lunch, through tears, I noticed a message flash across my dashboard, “Coolant low. Turn off vehicle immediately!” This was super stressful, because I’d just merged onto the highway, and the next exit was about a mile away, in a sketchy area, and my vehicle wouldn’t accelerate, and it started to get noticeably hot, and I imagined that it might blow up or catch on fire or something… So as soon as I got to the exit ramp I turned the vehicle off and abandoned ship and stumbled down a steep, grassy ravine, crossed a deserted gravel parking lot, and headed over to the only business in eyeshot – a bar that was closed.
I sat outside and called Mark, who called a tow truck, and also came to get me. Because I was already in tears, this situation that should have elicited tears kind of snapped me out of my tears. Kind of like a how in math a negative times a negative equals a positive, a tearful situation times a tearful situation equals a hilarious situation. SOMETIMES. But in this case, my logic held true – I pretty much threw my arms up and chuckled, “Slap my ass and call me Sally – the irony!!! My vehicle is about to blow up in the very moment I cease being able to afford it anyway!”
But the vehicle is under warranty, so perhaps I can keep it after all.