I wrote the words you’re about to read over seven months ago after making one of the biggest decisions I’ve made in my adult life. This blog has always been about me sharing parts of my story with those who were interested enough to read. Quitting my job was a big deal for me this year, impacting both my personal growth and motherhood journey. It only feels right that as we end 2021 I take time to share these words, one of the biggest life changes 2021 brought.
On April 12, 2021 I made one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I resigned from my job of almost six years, trading my life of working outside the home for life as a stay at home mom. The decision to quit my job was not something I took lightly, it was multifaceted, with so many different things shifting in and around me.
As a mom working outside the home, I found myself growing weary of trying to “balance” work and family. As I progressed in my career, work demanded more of my energy. Oftentimes I felt as if I wasn’t giving my best in either home or work. On top of that, I also wasn’t caring for myself well. As time went on, the work environment became more stressful and I saw the passion for the work I was doing slowly begin to fade. I loved the people I worked with and the relationships I had built, but the work was no longer enjoyable. However, I had no idea what I desired to do next.
As I was going through the motions at work, I was also learning more about myself and the way I viewed myself was starting to change. It all began when I learned about the Enneagram. I remember sitting around my kitchen table with friends as they talked about their numbers. I was clueless and had no idea what they were talking about. I took a free assessment online (which I know now is not always the best way to determine your type) and I came to the conclusion that I was a 2 or maybe a 6. Who knows. I didn’t really pursue it much more, but the topic always seemed to work it’s way into my conversations with friends. I marveled at how my friends had words to articulate certain things about their personality so I eventually decided to read The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgram Cron and Suzanne Stabile and I also started listening to their podcasts, Typology and The Enneagram Journey. Through those sources, I realized that I actually identify more with Type 9, the peacemaker.
I hated what I learned about Type 9. Asleep to their own desires. Going along to get along. Conflict avoidant. Maybe I disliked what I read so much because I knew all those things to be true about myself and I could identify how those personality traits and core motivations kept me stuck, chained to unrealistic expectations and simply coasting through life. That led me down a path to really trying to identify what I wanted, what I cared about, what I needed.
Through therapy, self-reflection, prayer, and many conversations with friends I realized that I was only staying in my job because it was comfortable. I didn’t want to rock the boat, disrupt my “peace,” or cause conflict for others so I just stayed, ultimately falling asleep to my own desires. Those negative thoughts kept me in a place I didn’t want to be for far too long.
In hindsight, the thought of being a stay at home mom always loomed in the back of my mind. That thought slowly worked its way to the surface after having kids and even more as we began to navigate life in a pandemic, but for some reason I never thought not working was accessible to me. I thought I had to live my life a certain way, follow a formula. Go to college. Get a job. Get married. Buy a house. Build a family. Get more degrees. Get a better job. Be happy.
Living life with those expectations was exhausting. Trying to “balance” work and family seemed impossible. The scale was never balanced. It would inevitably tip one way or another. Even with creating good rhythms at home and boundaries between work and home life, I never felt at peace or settled. I always felt like I was striving for something. Something invisible and unattainable. It was tiring, mentally and physically.
After I had my daughter in 2019, I seriously started to consider how I could really make both realities, mom life and work life actually work. No matter what scenario I imagined, a new, more flexible job, working closer to home, working remote, part-time work, none seemed to really feel “right.” Deep down I knew what I really wanted, but I continued to suppress it. Yet, God was faithful all the while. He continued to speak to me in so many ways. So many moments over the last two years began to confirm that I needed to be honest with what I wanted and make a decision.
My own desires, my truth, began to spill out more and more in conversations with friends and in my own writing. The pandemic itself gave me the opportunity to be home with my kids and get a small taste of what the life I dreamed of could be like. In more ways than one, I say that time at home together woke me up to my own desires.
Earlier this year, I studied the book of Esther with friends and the big decision she faced to save her people spoke loud and clear to me. There were countless sermons, podcasts listened to, and posts read that spoke of taking steps and trusting God even when things were uncertain. The wise counsel of friends who knew me well spurred me closer to my next step. My husband affirmed my desire and showed me what was possible. My kids were excited about being home with me. My own growing discomfort at work propelled me even further. My own mental health became more important to me. I knew that I had to take a step into unknown territory to experience what God had waiting for me on the other side of my decision.
At the beginning of April I finally decided that I wanted to quit my job. I figured I would resign in May with a three week notice because it was a natural transition period that would allow me to ease into stay at home life over the summer before my son started kindergarten. But sitting with the decision to resign for that long was absolute torture. I couldn’t look at or talk to my coworkers each day knowing I was holding on to this secret. It was causing too much stress. I needed to get it over with. So on April 12, filled with a mountain of different emotions, I resigned. It was the hardest, but best decision I have made in a long time. I wish I could tell you that after that day I felt lighter and more free, but the weeks following were a struggle. So much stress had built up that I battled anxiety and panic attacks for weeks after. As I got closer and closer to my last day of work, I struggled with thinking about what would be on the other side of this decision. The hardest part was not knowing what would come next.
I found myself worrying about what it would look like to re-enter the workforce. Will I find a job? Will I have the experience and connections I need for the next opportunity? What’s the timing of that? I had to remind myself that all of those things were not important at the moment. I hadn’t even stepped into the thing I was stepping into and I was already focused on the chapter beyond. I had to constantly remind myself to rest in the uncertainty. Focus on right now. To look forward with anticipation, but not speculation. I didn’t need to have anything else figured out. I had to take this transition in strides. As it comes. One step at a time.
Another challenge was overcoming the comments about my decision from others.
“You’ll be bored.”
“I give you 5 months. You’ll be ready to go back to work.”
“They’ll convince you to stay.”
I found myself letting those comments get in my head and discourage me, but my friends reminded me that I couldn’t let the words of others have power over me. I knew what God was calling me to do in this moment, even if others didn’t understand.
As of this month, it’s been about seven months since I made the leap and quit my job. I don’t regret it one bit. Sure, I’ve struggled to find my rhythm and have had many negative thoughts and emotions along the way, but it has been the best decision for me and my family. We’ve seen God provide new friends, opportunities for connection, and meet our needs financially. It’s been such a blessing to have more space to breathe and just be. I’ve learned so much about myself. Someone told me I was brave when I told them about my decision to quit. I never saw myself that way. But I now have evidence to prove to that I am capable of making hard decisions. I am capable of listening to my own desires and forging a new path forward for myself. I am much stronger than I knew. I’m carrying all that I’ve learned with me in 2022 and beyond.
There are a few people that really supported me over the last year as I wrestled with this decision to quit my job. I’d like to take time now to thank them, specifically.
Lasha – My friend, thank you for seeing me, giving me words to describe what I was feeling and offering me advice in only a way that you can. And for suggesting that I just need to quit. It was the confirmation I needed that day.
Jess and Dominique – Thanks for studying the book of Esther with me, listening to me and encouraging me to just take the next right step. You both model what it looks like to trust and follow Jesus.
KB, Kim, Paula, Rachael, and Gabrielle – Thank for living your lives the way you do. Each of you has shown me there’s no “right” way to do this thing called life. Thank you for listening to me, encouraging me, and giving me space to just be me. Your advice and life experience has helped me more than you know. Thank you for challenging me to have hard conversations and for encouraging me to try therapy. You all also model what it looks like to trust and follow Jesus.
Paula – Thanks for always having the conversation about being a stay at home mom with me and for always presenting that option. Thank you for ensuring me that I can do this and for reminding me that this time in my life is not just about the kids, but it’s about me too. Thanks for letting me know I don’t have to fit into a certain mold and that this time can be what I want and need it to be. And essentially saying “lower your expectations.” I need that reminder a lot.
Alyssia – Thank you for reminding me that the way the world asks us to show up as wives, moms, employees, and everything else is crazy and unrealistic and that I can choose different. Thank you for always listening to me and encouraging me. And thanks for being on this journey with me.
Meggan – Thank you for sharing your story with me and reminding me that a step of faith is just that, a step, and that God honors those steps and always knows the bigger picture.
Tommy – Thank you for believing in me and for always supporting me and loving me. Thank you for being by my side through all the ups and downs. For dealing with my emotions and for listening to me vent. Thank you for seeing things from my perspective and for challenging my perspective. Thank you for working hard and managing our finances in a way that even makes this decision possible.