I quit my job on Monday.
It was the right decision, but it didn’t make it an easy one.
I’ve been working from home, teaching University level English courses online, for the last three and a half years.
Since the day I started, I’ve had two babies, a grand total of four little men.
And I’ve kept plugging away at my work, at times teaching up to 4 classes in an 8 week term (usually 2). While some online professors have an easy (or easier) job, teaching English online is brutal. The University I worked for has a one-week turn around policy for grading papers. On the “off” weeks, I was giving copious notes on outlines and thesis statements. Add in answering hundreds of emails, grading discussion boards (on top of papers), and dealing with plagiarism on nearly every paper, let’s just say I didn’t have a lot of down time as a WAHM.
I felt like I was handling it all pretty well though…until last year, and especially last fall after Benji got his ASD diagnosis.
We added therapy to our weekly schedule and suddenly I was spending hours per week at the Autism Center, driving, scrambling to find babysitters, or on the phone with the insurance company.
The stress was overwhelming. It even started affecting my health, both physically and mentally.
I’d thought about quitting in December but still I wavered: I was so fortunate to be a mom who can work from home when there are so many women who are dying to be in my position. Didn’t I owe it to them to keep the “dream” alive, the dream that says, “Yes, 21st century modern woman: You may not be able to have the whole pie, but you can have a little slice of whatever you are determined to put on your plate!”
But here’s the conversation that put a knife in that “dream” and sealed my decision to quit.
I had just finished grading for B term and told my 8 year old twins, “Guess what, boys? No more papers! I’m all done!”
“Yea!” They cheered. “Now you can spend time with us!”
That was it. I knew I needed a change. I had been praying a lot, asking God to give me truth about the reality of my life, and here’s what He revealed:
I wasn’t being the mom or wife I wanted or needed to be.
I wasn’t even being a nice person.
I didn’t even like myself.
I was a mean person who was strung out, exhausted, and who yelled all the time. Plus if I graded just one more paper about “The Road Less Traveled,” I might just lose my mind (or what was left of it).
And as fortunate as I was to be working from home, it just wasn’t worth it anymore.
I can’t do it all. In fact, I didn’t want to do it all any more. I’m kind of over it.
Yet, knowing myself, it feels weird to admit that.
I’ve eagerly been in school and/or working since my twins were 7 months old (they are 8.5 now).
I invested years of my life into my Masters degree and into teaching, both on campus and online. And I was a darn-good professor too.
But the truth is, I need to invest my life where my love is.
I love English, and I love helping students become better writers, but it’s hard to keep loving something that doesn’t love you back. And honestly, as much as I tried to be a personable, relateable, likeable, genuine, caring online professor, the thousands of students I’ve taught aren’t going to remember my name next week, much less 20 years from now.
I am a blip on their life-radar, and let’s be real: I will easily be replaced at the University I worked for.
But my kids only get one mom. I am not a blip to them; I am their whole world. And I need to move them back into the center of my world. I know this the right decision.
But not all good decisions are easy. Can I be really honest? I got a lot of warm fuzzies telling people that I taught at a University. I felt validated by raised eyebrows and the impressed tone of voice. It made me feel like I was more than “just a mom,” like I was an intelligent human being who was making a difference in the world.
So, as much as I am saying “Good riddance” to the horrific stress of being a WAHM, it comes with a bit of mourning too, a saying “goodbye” to that prideful little corner of my heart (not to mention the lost income. God will provide, right?).
But I’m ready to say “hello” to lots of Good Things too:
more “come in” and less “go away”
more “now” and less “later”
more self-care instead of self-denial
more energy and less exhaustion
more kindness and less irritation
more patience and less yelling
And more love, much more Love. Being “just a mom” may wound my pride, but making the choice to be the mom that I want and need to be is the best decision I’ve made in a long time.
Did you quit your job to be more available to your kids (special needs or not)?
Was it a hard decision? Why or why not? (or both)
Share your story below!
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