Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… (or why I quit my job)

I e-mailed my (former) boss yesterday, and included the line “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.”

She fired back with “Ha ha. How I miss that expression.”

Which kind of answers the question: why did I quit work?

When “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa” becomes such a familiar part of your lexicon that your boss recognizes it even as a written interjection, it’s probably time for a change.

I quit my job last month. Four weeks ago to the day. I tendered my resignation several months before that, for many complicated reasons. Not least of all because those “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” moments had become a habitual part of my day.

I went back to work when Sylvia was 1 year and 5 days old. My first day, I was so busy I didn’t even know I had a daughter. I knew she was in good hands, being cared for by a trusted friend, but beyond that I didn’t have time to spare her another thought until 5 p.m. I probably could have lived with that, but my job didn’t always end at 5. In the coming months, my weekly hours crept up from 35 to 40, to 50, some weeks 55 or more. It demanded all my energy and focus, even when I was away from the office.

Then there was my body.

I went back to work weighing less than when I got pregnant. I was wearing clothes I hadn’t worn in two years, I was feeling strong and fast. I ran a 16-km road race, then… that was it. The days got shorter while the workdays got longer. Travis went away to work, and all my free time to exercise evaporated in less time than it took to call the babysitter and say “I’m going to be late tonight…” And before I knew it I was rotating my closet again, shuffling my fitted wear to the spare room and breaking out the clothes I hadn’t hoped to see til I was pregnant again.

Then, there was an election. I worked late, too late. And the work I produced? Well it wasn’t worth it. If I was going to be away from home, I wanted it to be worth my while. And that particular night, driving home in the driving rain, I knew it wasn’t.

Finally, three months of single parenting was enough. Travis was working away, and while I had a brief taste of it last winter, the extended separation was hard on all of us.

Any single reason wouldn’t have been enough to make me leave, but all together they added up to good timing. By quitting my job, I could lose the permanent lockjaw (my physical manifestation of stress), spend more time with Sylvia, get fit and keep the family together. Was there even another option?

It probably doesn’t make the most sense financially, but for now at least it’s working for us.

There’s another question I get mostly from other moms wrestling with a lot of the same questions, or colleagues who know just how insidious the reporting business is. That is, was it hard to leave?

For all the same reasons above, it was easy to leave work, but it was hard to leave behind my colleagues. I’m still constantly on the lookout for news (coming soon, a post on how NOT to crash a funeral in a strange town), ear tuned to the radio and mentally editing everything I read… but those are habits I’ve learned to live with. And when my fingers get itchy for telling stories there are places to do that. The job was easy to abandon. The journalism – not so much.

Other factors people have wondered about: My $80k degree, my “lack of contribution to the household,” my need to keep busy…

The degree wasn’t a big deal. I don’t feel I’ve squandered my education at all. I’ve resigned from one job, not entirely from the workforce.

I am still contributing to the household. I am taking in a bit of freelance work, and I’ve eliminated the cost of childcare from the budget.

I am keeping busy. Between freelance contracts and my own projects (Spoiler alert: it’s not a novel) I am hardly sitting around eating cheesies all day. (That would be counter-intuitive, seeing as my health was among my four major reasons for leaving work… give me a little more credit).

Whew, that was a lot of words about quitting my job. So how are things with you?


7 responses to “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… (or why I quit my job)

  1. I left journalism ten years ago. The urge to edit never goes away. That’s why blogs exist. 🙂

  2. Um, if someone tries to argue that a financial contribution is the only real contribution you can make to your family, I think they need to pull their head out of their… I think it’s awesome that you have quit your job. It clearly wasn’t a rash decision. You figured out your personal and family values, how much $$ you need to live according to those values, the best scenario for your individual family… you rock lady 😉

    And besides, you’re still staying involved, and can jump back into the workplace whenever you darn well please!

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