I quit my job today. Not my full time job … Just my per diem job. But, I quit nonetheless.
Initially, when I took on the position, I was yearning for more in my career. I wanted to keep one hand in direct practice while my full-time employment kept me busy with other tasks. And the position allowed me to dust the cobwebs off and remember my strengths as a clinician. It was rewarding, and even a little fun and exciting in the beginning.
What I could not have predicted was that within a year of taking on that position, my husband would lose his job. I could not have anticipated that a job that started off as a little something extra in my life would quickly and unexpectedly become a necessity for a short time. And although I was thankful that this job existed in our lives and we were not left scrambling (isn’t it funny how everything has a way of working out?), everything that I thought and felt about this job changed.
Initially, I felt relieved that I could use the position to help take care of my family’s needs. There were many, many years that my husband worked overtime or side jobs to support us. I felt proud to be his partner, his teammate, ready and willing to do my part now. It was my turn. And so, in the beginning, I beamed with pride as I went to work. I could brush off the mom-guilt that I was leaving my family some nights and weekends because my kids were with their dad who loves them and is just as capable of taking care of their needs. And I wanted to take care of my family in this way. And I wanted my husband to see how much I love him and stand by him during the hard times. And I wanted my sons to see that a woman can take care of her family in non-traditional ways. I thought I was so progressive.
Eventually, I began to feel that the weight of the world was on my shoulders. Although my husband was working again, we had not negotiated any changes to how the household chores would get done, or the meals would get cooked, etc. And, so I continued to do what I had always done, while now working more. But over time, my husband started doing more. I would come home from work and find that the house had been cleaned, or the laundry was all done, or the homework was done, or dinner was cooked, or the kids had had baths, or that he had done the grocery shopping. It was a huge relief. And while it worked wonders for my anxiety and my love for him, I did not feel better. In fact, day-in and day-out, I felt worse.
I quickly began to hate going to my per diem job. It felt like the straw that would just my break my proverbial camel’s back. I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the changes in our lives throughout the prior year, and the only thing that made me feel good as I made sense of it all, was spending quality time with my family. It did not matter that I did not work at the other job all that often, even one day a month became too much. So, some days, just the thought of leaving my family on a Saturday afternoon and going to my second job would send me into tears. It began to feel like the walls were closing in on me … As if the weight of the world on my shoulders did not crush me, the walls surely would.
My husband begged me for months to quit. But, it felt irresponsible. It felt like I was letting my family down. It felt like I had failed at being a modern-day woman. But, regardless of how progressive I thought that I was, or wanted to be, it turns out that I may be a traditionalist at heart. Even though the house was getting cleaned, the meals were getting cooked, the kids were well cared for, at my core, I yearned to be the one to do those things.
And, so, I marched myself into work, and I handed in my resignation. It was time to take care of myself and my family in the way that made the most sense for us. And I immediately felt empowered. I felt hopeful. I felt braver than I have in a long time. Quitting my job was right with my soul.
Maybe I am a traditionalist at heart, but I still believe every woman has to do what is in her heart … what is right with her soul. And that is pretty damn progressive.
So, my friends, do not allow society, or the media, or the “times,” or stereotypes to tell you who you are or what you should be doing. Instead, go out into this world and be wholly (and bravely) who you are. Do what your heart desires, whether that is to go to work more, to stay home more, or to find a perfect balance. And, if you find yourself in conflict between what your heart desires and where you need to be right now, be at peace with the knowledge that it is not forever. We are women. We are mothers. We are blazing trails in every direction.