Have the guts to quit (I didn’t)

By  | September 23, 2016 |  Comments | Filed under: Feminism, Werking Mom

“Get a cleaning lady.” My last client was a banana blonde Miss Cleo, psychically peering into my internal struggle, of which I had mentioned nothing.

I laughed. “How did you know my house was a wreck?”

“You’re a mom and you work. That’s been my life for 19 years. I only had one baby, but I made sure I had that cleaning lady and put my husband on dinner duty at least once a week. You’ll burn out in a minute.”

I was charred. The ashes must have been all over my dress of a business casual length and neckline.

For the last year I’ve been leaning in. I’ve been carrying a bag without a sippy cup pouch and talking to people my own age. Doing Things. It’s been fabulous. Of course, even with burning at full tilt (broker life is 24/7/365/infinity) my income after childcare and shoes basically made my job a vanity project.

At first it was nice having a break from the kids. On a good day, when nothing started at a different time than normal and everyone’s body temperature was 98.6 degrees, we were fine. My husband took the first kid to school at 7:50 while I showered. I took the second one at 8:15 while he showered. We traded off taking the third baby to a third location at 8:45. We went to work at 9. I grinded. He grinded. (We ground?) We definitely ground.

On the way home, I texted clients at red lights and trudged through the pick-up process to get the kids. If I didn’t have contracts to drop off, I’d get a frozen pizza in the cold oven for the third time in a week by 6PM. My two-year-old sometimes fell asleep for the night on the way home. 10 pages of homework from three schools might or might not get done. Dad came in around 9PM. Wash. Drink. Repeat.

Of course, I missed Coffees With The Principal. I scooted into PTA meetings 5 minutes (12 minutes) late and only then if the planets aligned. The other moms, with their toned calves and neon athleisure were kind with pity.

Then there were the days when wrenches got thrown in. It was my morning to volunteer at School #2. Someone forgot a backpack. A head got cracked falling off a swing at school. A sour note would topple the harmony and I’d be in catch-up mode for days. If I had a meeting that went well past bed time, 24 hours might pass without a single snuggle.

But I had that capitalist trophy: A PAYCHECK. I wish I could tell you I put food on the table with it. Maybe you’d think I was real hero for enduring the rat race if my child needed medicine or shelter. Nah. I bought more clothes for work and some trinkets.

I knew I needed a change months ago. A few weeks ago, I said something about reducing my hours or leaving altogether. My bosses flattered me with lunch at Houston’s and an all-star review of my performance and so, I powered on.

In fact, here is a list of things I powered through in the last 12 months:

1. Having nannies live with us, one of whom had loud sex
2. The nanny who left our kids alone in the hot car
3. My kids’ lunch consisting of packaged snacks
4. Me being that mom who never knew what was going on in my kids’ schools
5. Picking my child up from daycare & finding she’d been in wet undies for who knows how long
6. That time the daycare denied my 2-year-old food, claiming they had to ration it
7. My kindergartener having to sit in a van for an hour every day after school just to get to daycare
8. Stress headaches
9. Panic attacks
10. Mean girls

Why didn’t I have the guts to quit? I was so afraid of being a “quitter” that instead of seeing the BIG RED YOU-SHOULD-QUIT flags, I cowered to my inner demon that said, “you’re tough, keep going”. It was also my ego. My job fed my ego like a little piggy as I watched my name climb higher and higher on the broker board. (Want to motivate a Type A? Make them log into a ranking system 45 times a day.)

Who was I serving?

And so it ended. There was a small battle over money and principles that escalated and I didn’t have the energy anymore.

And now, I breathe. (Also, I do like a year’s worth of laundry.)
UPDATE: And then I started a competitor company in late 2016 and got a scholarship to law school in 2019, where I enrolled part-time so I could do both!


I will miss casual Fridays. And industrial carpet.

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