When your country’s economy is crashing down around you, excuse me, the world’s economy is crashing down around you, and millions are losing their jobs, it seems a strange time to quit your own job. (Insane, really.) Trust me, this was not an easy decision. Not only was I giving up a great career, one that I had worked extremely hard at developing, but our plans for financial prosperity would be put on hold at the very least. Yet being in the paradise of Buzios, and watching the locals happily pull fish from the sea or the shop girls joke with each other over a café com leite, gave me a different perspective. Life is very long, and very short. The years ahead would be a distance memory near the end of my life, and fifty years from now, what would I regret? Would it be missing a few years of work? Or would it be missing time with my daughter? I continued to come back to the latter.
I wasn’t the only one making this type of decision. I knew of others at my company and in my department who were either begging for “packages” (for those of you that aren’t familiar, it is the term for the lump of money and benefits you get when you get laid off) or just flat out resigned due to pressures on marriages, families and sanity. However, these people were famous in their field, who could go off and write a book or start their own company, and probably had millions stashed away for a rainy day. I did not. Don’t get me wrong, we were making good money and had money put aside, but it would go fast. (And fast it did, as I had a difficult time adjusting away from the lifestyle I had grown accustomed to in the previous few years…)
I could have also asked for a personal leave of absence. This would have given me some time to figure things out and see if the full-time mother thing was really what I wanted. But we were going through rounds of head-cuts. Brutal ones. I had to participate in two lay-offs in the previous two years, but the ones that were about to take place were based on numbers handed down from our new parent company, and had nothing to do with efficiency or productivity. So my headcount still being on the books meant that someone else would be cut, even though I knew I would probably never return. I couldn’t live with that.
So I had two options. I could come clean and quit. Or I could hold out, hoping to be laid off, maybe doing a bad job to quicken the process.
I knew the second option wouldn’t work for me. I couldn’t live with that either. So, my first day of work back, I went into the office and let them know I couldn’t stay.
I first met with the woman who brought me into the global research group. She was someone I respected immensely. She also had children, three children, but had chosen a different path. She had a live-in nanny, and claimed that her children would need her later in their childhood, so she worked like a dog trying to secure a future in which she could be with them (and still live in comfort).
I was totally honest with her. I simply told her that I couldn’t be great at my job and be a great mother at the same time, and I couldn’t stand doing a half-assed job at each. I cried. I didn’t expect to, but I couldn’t help myself. All the pressure the past year, and then the anxiety over quitting, came flooding out of my system in tears. She asked me to stay on for awhile to transition
Then I told my boss. The meeting went much smoother in terms of emotions, though I half-faked a couple tears because I learned from my last meeting that softened up the blow a bit.
I stayed for another month and a half to help with the merger and to transition people into my roles. I got to do fun things like orchestrate the laying off of my friends. I continued to receive signs that I had made the right choice. Things got really tough, and I was glad I had resigned, because there were moment that, had I not, I would have left the building screaming never to return. But instead, I left on my terms.
So in the middle of February I had my last day. There was a last day party, which my daughter attended. And I started my new adventure as a full-time mom…