Sunday, April 24, 2016

A New Chapter

I naively entered college expecting that I would meet my future husband there.  When I thought of my future, I saw myself married with a family.  Working, having a career was secondary.  Almost an afterthought.  But with each year of college and maturity, my viewpoint shifted.  Beginning with my sophomore year, I worked at one of the "Big 6" public accounting firms through the school's cooperative education program.  During my senior year, I was offered a full time position and my career as a CPA took off.  

I had two failed relationships during my time at college.  Neither one ended on a sour note and there was one that I attempted to keep alive long-distance after we graduated.  But a few years later, I realized that I couldn't have asked for a better outcome.  I not only spent my twenties "finding myself" but I had the freedom to climb the corporate ladder.  When Rich and I married, we both wanted children and at that point in my career, I never thought about not working.  Everyone I knew returned to work after having babies and while no one said it was easy, there's a lot in life that isn't simple.  You roll with it.  

And then Abigail died.  This was a huge turning point for me not only with respect to my views on life but with thoughts on my career.  Especially after I was asked when I would be returning to work.  How could I possibly give a crap about work when my baby had just died?  But I returned to work (much sooner than I was ready to) because I had to go through the motions.  I had to act like it was all okay.

My employer and I parted ways after the girls were born.  I secured a new position and returned to work when the girls were 15 months old, mainly for financial reasons.  For those of you who are regular, long-term readers, you know it hasn't been an easy road for me.  I know a lot of working moms say that we are responsible for making change but in the beginning, I encountered much opposition to that.  For example, working from home was frowned upon.  No one ever did it.  I remember requesting to work from home one day shortly after I had started.  We were extremely busy and the girls had a doctor's appointment.  I said, "Look, I can take an entire day off which will delay the movement of this work or I can work from home."  My argument won but honestly, it was an exhausting battle to wage, especially when I was already tired from caring for three little ones and from work itself.  A few years later, I was able to move to a four day workweek.  That helped, until the group changed and I ended up working 40+ hours in my 4 day workweek.  Nothing like working full time for 80% of your pay.

I have seen considerable change for the better in the area of work/life balance for working moms over the last 9 years.  (Although, from personal experience, it does seem like more effort is placed on hiring and retaining millennials than on work/life balance for working moms.)  My boss now is a perfect example of providing a supportive workplace.  You need to come in late or leave early?  No problem.  You need to work from home?  No problem.  Because he knows that I will get my work done.  But for me, that's still a balance issue.  I still have a ton of work and responsibility on my plate.  If I arrive to work at noon because I've brought Anna to a urology appointment, I still have 8+ hours worth of work to get done.  And then there's my commute of 2+ hours a day.

I am burnt out.

Rich and I began to map out our future several years ago when I was reporting to the worst possible boss in the world.  She said she welcomed flexibility and that she didn't care when I had to come in late/leave early but secretly she was counting days and noting times.  Plus, she was just pure evil.  Her master plan was to rid the group of everyone who had been there before her and replace those positions with under-experienced tax persons.  I was crying at work everyday and if you were to ask my friends and family whether Sarah is more likely to A. cry at work or B. tell the offender what she really thought (to word it nicely), they would all respond with B.  Yes, Sarah would definitely go with B.  But I couldn't.  Rich was out of work for awhile and we have a child with a medical disability.  All I could think about was health insurance.  I could have quit and we would have been okay for awhile but I know from experience that finding a job when you don't have one is not the best position to be in.

So why wasn't I looking for a new job?  I was burnt out even back then.  I was anxious, down on myself and my abilities, and I was experiencing chronic stomach issues.  And I hate to say this too, but my decision to stay was partly driven by money and my stubbornness.  I was not going to let this unstable person push me out the door.  I was waiting to collect a long-term bonus and she knew it.  Eventually, management of my group was found out (it was being run like a mini law firm) and, poof, they were gone.  

A few years ago, a former boss of mine (we are also friendly) told me that she may have an open position working with her.  Would I be interested if it did come to fruition?  As with any job, there were pros and cons to weigh, but what really stuck out to me was the thought that I wouldn't be able to give 100%.  I feared a new role because I didn't think my brain could handle learning something different.  I was too tired.  The whole idea of it actually seemed overwhelming to me.  She knew what I had been through and where I was coming from, but she thought I was crazy to have let them take my confidence away.

I can't help but wonder how my co-workers see me. Someone who could give more but doesn't?  I feel like I'm giving all I can.

A month ago, I resigned from my position as Tax Director.  April and May are very busy months for us at work and because I hold a great deal of responsibility, I gave them approximately two months notice.  They need time to figure what they're going to do when I'm gone and I'm in a position to give them that time versus a standard 2-3 weeks notice.  Admittedly, even though Rich and I have been planning this for years, it was somewhat scary at first.  But after a week or so, all I felt was relief.

I have a little over a month left at work and then I'll be home with the girls indefinitely, which was the goal in making this decision.  (So much to say on this, I can't even touch on it in this post.) I've been with the same company for almost 8 years now, which is the longest I've been anywhere.  Regardless of burnout, it feels like it's time to go.  I'm sure I'll do something else at some point.   Maybe tax, maybe not.  Right now, I'm excited to spend more time with my family.  I'm excited for the release of work responsibilities.  I'm excited for a future with unlimited possibilities.

45 comments:

Julia said...

Sarah, I am so glad you are finally able to do that! Wish you great times with the family and lots of new doors in your life.

D said...

Congratulations on being able to make that decision! As someone just starting out in tax (a little later in life than the average college student), I will miss your comments and advice for those in the field. But I will continue to enjoy your posts. Thank you for blogging your real life and honest thoughts rather than sponsored products and a persona that doesn't actually exist. Best of luck!

Angel said...

I've been reading for years (though never commenting) and I just wanted to say I am so very, very happy for you. You have seemed so beaten down and miserable about work for the entire time I've been reading. Obviously work is tough for most of us, but you just seemed like you were carrying such an exceptionally heavy burden on your soul. I'm glad everything finally worked out to give you a break. You deserve some time to enjoy your girls and yourself. Congratulations!

Englishrose said...

Good for you! It takes some getting used to but you need this and so does your family. Congratulations.

Margaret Petry said...

Yay, I am so excited for you! I've been reading for several years and I know how tired and stressed you've been. I only work part time, 16 hours a week, and I'm stressed... I can't imagine how hard your job and commute have been. I'm very happy you get to be with your family and lessen your stress.

yettie said...

I feel you and I applaud your courage in making the move.

Tracey's Life said...

Sarah, I am happy to read that you were able to make this decision and that you are comfortable with it. What I used to tell other people when I was in HR, is that all it is a decision that is best for you now. You have skills and we live in a world where you are free to change that decision down the road if it is best for you and your family. Enjoy your time with your family and decompress and enjoy life :)

Farah said...

Oh yay! I am so happy for you. I cannot wait to see how this new journey unfolds for your family.

Michele said...

Yay Sarah! So happy for you and for your family.

I loved the paragraph where you mentioned apprehension at switching jobs. I'm really in that place right now. I've been here for 18(!!!!!!) years, and people always ask me about going someplace else. Yes, I feel too tired, and I don't have the confidence I used to have.

So glad you and Rich were on the same page and able to move forward together. Looking forward to seeing your new adventures!

Teej said...

Yayyyyy! I am so happy to hear this for you.

Colleen said...

Congratulations! Longtime reader, very occasional commenter here. I know how much you and your family have wanted this, and I think it's fantastic. I hope the transition goes smoothly!

JEN said...

" I feared a new role because I didn't think my brain could handle learning something different. I was too tired."

Yep. Completely there. Please keep us posted! Excited for you and your family.

erinlaughs said...

Good for you! This is such great news for you and your family.

Last fall my work situation changed a bit and I was able to not only get my kids on the bus in the morning, but get them off in the afternoon and work my remaining hours from home. It made such a huge difference in our family life. Work/life balance is tricky and hard to find definitely.

Erin said...

I've been reading for years but haven't commented - I'm so glad you are able to make this change! I've always been a full-time working mom but my commute is 15 minutes and my work is pretty flexible. Really can't imagine the strain of the responsibilities you held and your commute. Best wishes for the future!

DaddyBites said...

Good for you Sarah!

Kim

Lisa H. said...

Congratulations on the big change! I'm a long time reader, too, and it sounds like you've been unhappy at work for a while. I know the grass is always greener, but just by nixing your 2 hour+ commute you'll be coming out ahead--not to mention all of the extra time with your sweet girls and husband! Looking forward to reading more!

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Congratulations on the resignation and on the new chapter of your life.

I took a sabbatical two years ago for four months and LOVED it! yours is not the same but I am still excited for you.

Theresa said...

Oh my goodness! I am so excited for you! I often read your posts and amazed by all you do. I cannot wait to read all about your new chapter, experiences, and adventures. Your family is incredibly lucky to have you and all you do for them! Congrats and Best Wishes!!

Christine said...

Congratulations, Sarah! I'm a longtime reader and so happy for you. Wishing you the best in your new chapter! :)

sraines21 said...

I also have been reading your blog for awhile but this is my first time commenting. I'm so happy for you and your new chapter with your family. Congratulations!

Bargerboys said...

I can feel your relief! So glad you are able to make this work! I will look for you all at the giant playground at Stony Creek this summer :)

Sarah said...

Thank you!! I loved reading all your supportive comments!

Cathy said...

Sarah, as a long time reader, I often thought "when is she going to quit". Congratulations for regaining your life.

Ali said...

I never comment but your post really inspired me. I'm really happy for you!! It must be such a relief. Can't wait until your last commuter train ride. You blog is my favorite. No ick factor that a lot of blogs get when they become popular and the 'voice' changes and ads roll in. Enjoy your time with your family!

Melanie said...

So happy to read this! Enjoy your time, replenish your soul, soak up the time with your girls ❤️❤️

Katie said...

Good for you! I've often wondered when you were going to make a change and am glad that you did!

erniebufflo.com said...

Best wishes in your new chapter!

Jennifer said...

Proud of you!!!

Bria Coder said...

I have been reading for a few years now but haven't ever commented. I just want to say I am so happy for you! I could feel your dislike and anxiety about work through words and I'm so glad you are in a position to enjoy just being a mom!!
I've always wanted to tell how beautiful your girls are!(in a total non creeper way!) I have 4 kids (3 boys and 1 girl) My oldest is just a couple of months older than your girls. I like reading your posts because my little girl had a twin sister (miscarried) and its fun to catch just a little glimpse of what life would've been like:)

Melissa said...

Yeah Sarah! So happy for you and your family in this new chapter of your lives. I have three kids as well and made a similar decision last year to resign and be home with the kids. I have not regretted it would once.

Megan said...

This is awesome news, Sarah! I'm so happy for you.

Jenna said...

I am so happy for you! I know your family is excited too!

MCox said...

I'm just curious...if you care to respond, and I know it's none of my business, but how will you handle the drop in income?

Sarah said...

Congrats!!! So excited for you (and very jealous! Lol)!!

Baby Detective Agency said...

Congrats! I've been hoping that you'd be able to do this for years! I was always impressed that you had as much energy as you did after that awful commute (to make dresses, etc). I get why you did it as long as you did, but still, hooray for changes now! I'll bet the girls are excited too!

Sarah said...

Bria - I want to reach out and give you a cyber hug which totally sounds creepy but you know what I mean. I feel the same way when I see families who have an older sibling and then triplets. Thank you for the nice comment.

MCox - I'd be curious too. We planned for years. We had financial goals that we needed to meet before we could do this. We've been living off of less than we were bringing in and saving for retirement/college - driving old cars (Rich's car is 12 years old), not buying expensive clothes, shoes, bags. etc.

DaddyBites said...

Sarah, that's great to hear about living more frugally. I think we all want to do it, but love our daily "crutches" of shopping.

It's amazing what some people have accomplished by living frugally, saving ridiculous amounts of money. I read the Frugalwoods blog and I continue to be amazed.

For me, we already live on one income. My husband can't work due to health issues. So I'll work until I'm 80. We have one 13-yr old car which we'll until the bitter end. We do live in a nice area (in Toronto) so our house has appreciated very nicely and our mortgage is almost paid off.

I can't wait to see how your blog/writing changes in a month!

Kim

Amanda said...

Congrats to you! Until very recently I was also working under a boss who was trying to get rid of anyone who was there longer than her. I was the last woman standing, if you will, but she finally succeeded in her mission. It was 2 weeks after I returned from maternity leave after having my twins that I was told that my position was eliminated. I was lucky enough to secure a new (better) position within a week, but think it's awful and evil for another woman in business to try and tear me down. What is it with some women in the workplace? Could it really be just about their own insecurities? So much for empowerment and support from other women. It's incredibly frustrating. Glad you were able to stay at home with your girls.

lesley said...

Congratulations! I am so happy for you, it's been a long haul. I stepped away from a 20 year nursing position last august, what a relief from all the stress. I do 'something else' now, part time. Change was necessary, the girls will be so thrilled to have you home.

BreezieGirl said...

Congratulations! I'm so happy for you and that you are able to make this change.

Tracie said...

Sarah, I'm relieved for you too, even though we haven't met. Just think how great you are going to feel the first blizzard you have and you are NOT on the train. I think you will really appreciate every minute at home with the girls because you waited so long. Whew. Bet you can't wait for June!
Best wishes, Tracie

Just the Tip said...

As a long time reader (2 girls with SB variations) I am ecstatic to read this. You deserve this break and you will figure out the rest later!

Cassidy Archie said...

I have been reading your blog for a long time, I remember when I first started reading your girls were very little and one of your early posts was about how hard it is to find balance and how you wished you could spend more time at home. So congrats on making that goal happen!! I hope you get some rest and enjoy your time away from work!!

TanyaMom23 said...

Oh Sarah, I am so happy for you! I am just giddy and smiling while typing this... I can feel the weight that has been lifted from you. I can only imagine how thrilled your girls must be too!

I work 3 days a week, as nurse in OB/Gyn. I love my job, I look forward going to work (especially now that all 3 kids are in school all day). I love the patients and my co-workers. I have a 4 minute commute, as I live 1 mile from work. I have fantastic benefits, inexpensive and amazing health insurance and a competitive pay... and it is still SO HARD TO BE A WORKING MOM! And yes, it's hard to be an at home mom too. I have been and have loved being both.

I am just so thrilled for you, as I have been able to sense through your words that this is something you've been working towards and praying for. I hope you enjoy every crazy second of packing lunches, doing laundry when the girls are at school (I just love being able to do laundry in a quiet house), shuttling kids around, volunteering at school, every field trip and dance/gymnastics performance... all of it! How wonderful that you won't have to be stressing out about juggling school conferences and doctors appointments on your 1 hour train ride. I could go on and on, it's just going to be such a positive life change for all of you!

What will Grammy do? It sounds like she really loves and is passionate about being so involved with the girls day-to-day.

Anyways, I wish you the best and I will be praying for a smooth transition for all of you! Congrats and happy mother's day!

- Tanya (mom to 10yo Jackson and 6yo identical twins, Ava and Emma!

randi said...

I've been reading your blog for a long time now....I am so happy for you and definitely feel relief from your post! Enjoy the time you will get with your girls. You're right; they are only little for a short time!

I've been dealing with the same struggle...going on 8 years. I will hopefully be able to make the same move soon.

Congrats!