Friday, 4/30/10, was my last day of work in corporate America. I escaped the “working mom hamster wheel” during a time when jobs are scarce and the economy is in the tank. I took a huge risk and I don’t have any idea how things will turn out. I have my foot on the pedal, my arms braced on the wheel and a lump in my throat as I headed quickly and almost blindly towards my goal. My decision to leave my job wasn’t money-based. Our family income will drop by 60%, but I have other plans than making money. I have other values than how to amass more things.
I have been working since I was thirteen. I grew up going to parochial school, acutely aware how much money my family did not have compared to my class mates. Early on, I worked cleaning houses and baby-sitting, so I could buy school books, a prom dress, and a car, things many of my friends took for granted. After struggling a few years to put myself through college, I joined the U.S. Army for the G.I. Bill and the Army College Fund.
In 1992, I finally graduated cum laude and like so many women in my generation, started climbing the career ladder. However, China changed everything. In 2004, after years of infertility, “that small, quiet voice”, lead my husband and me on a journey to parenthood. We began the long arduous process of adopting a baby girl from China. In February 2006, we traveled in Guangzhou, China with nine other families to pick up our daughters. In April 2010, after 15 months of waiting, we adopted our second daughter through a domestic relative adoption.
Over the past year, I have come to the realization that I have not placed “first things first in my life,” to quote Stephen R. Covey.
My family has taken a distant second place to my career. This fact really came into focus when I had accomplished over 90% of my professional goals but none of my family goals for 2009.
You may say, “Are you crazy, quitting your job in this economy?” Maybe you are right. However, I have realized that I could have more money or more time, but not both, so I have chosen “time.”