Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why I Left One of the Best Jobs in the Country

For 5.5 years, I worked at a one of the best jobs in the country. No, for real. Fortune Magazine has ranked this company as one of the Top 100 Employers to Work for at least for the past 10 years straight.

I took this job straight of grad school and enjoyed (nearly) every single minute of it. The culture there is great. The flexibility offered to me as I became a mother to first one, then two kids was beyond compare. My coworkers were wonderful, and I've never known a better manager. But, a couple years ago something started nagging me.

The first tug came when we decided to look for preschool for Spark (who was then 2 years ago). For a brief weekend, we considered me keeping him home instead of looking for preschool. But, after research and prayer and heart decisions, we decided on a great preschool for him.

The second tug came when I realized that I needed to write more, and not just technical documents. But, I dismissed these tugs in favor of financial security at one of the best jobs in the country.

After we had Flower, I reduced my work hours and started working about 50% of my time from home so that I could be with her. Soon, it became obvious that working from home with an increasingly mobile baby was adding more stress to my life. Buzz had taken on some additional responsibility at his job. Our lives were getting more and more hectic. I'm a reader and researcher, so I researched this issue.

My findings? Frenetic paces are expected these days. Two income families pay more for daycare, housekeeping, and convenience foods than the second income typically provides. A lot of folks with adult kids who had two-income families used daycare, preschools, nanny care and NOW regret those decisions. They wish they had taken life more slowly and enjoyed the path more. More and more kids are being diagnosed with learning disabilities and attention disabilities; studies link this to group care and hurried lives and insufficient cuddle/bonding time with parents.

Our typical day had become harried. I was getting crankier because I have "stuff" in me to write, but I'm not writing it because there is no time. I wanted more time with my kids and not divided time where I am sitting at a computer trying to fix typos in my documents and appease a needy 11-month old. I wanted to read Spark four bedtime stories and not worry that it was getting so late that I'd surely get behind if I didn't clean up the kitchen RIGHT NOW. I hated feeling rushed in the evenings, spending Saturdays catching up, and dreading the 5:00 bell on Sunday night. I had proven that I could do "it"--whatever "it" is goes something like "be a full-time working mom with a happy marriage and relatively clean home, homecooked meals, healthy kids," and do it all again tomorrow. I had done it; we were doing it. But, I didn't like where we were going. I felt a desire to slow the pace down to concentrate more on this all-important thing called family.

So, Buzz and I saw a financial advisor. We figured it would be impossible to maintain our current lifestyle AND knock off several grand a year. Surprisingly, when the advisor showed us a couple areas we could tweak, the difference turned out to be very little financially. (We haven't noticed the "tweaked" changes.)

Here I am, just two months after my final day at work. The view couldn't be better:


Kelly said...

Great post. I definitely feel all those tugs on a regular basis.

What are you doing to make time for your writing? That's the one thing really nagging at me lately. When's a mama supposed to write?!?

Martia said...

Mamas write when they should be sleeping. At least that's my experience. I'm steadily working on my schedule, carving out some time. The biggest trouble for me is that I am the type of worker who needs a fairly long stretch (1.5 to 2 hours) to feel focused and productive. With the kids around, I'm lucky to get 20 minutes at a time. :-)

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