My last day at my full-time job was full of emotion, trepidation, and a nervous sense of freedom. I can’t speak for other mothers but giving birth to my daughter last May and subsequently watching her grow over the last 10 months has been a life-changing experience.
Being a mother has also forced me to really think about what is important in my life right now and man there has never been an answer so simple and yet so difficult to think through. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t work.
I started moonlighting as a babysitter when I was 10 and still remember the day I turned 13 because I was so pumped to finally be old enough to work as a Counselor in Training (CIT). Does anyone remember those? Well it was a big deal in my world because the next step was Camp Counselor and that was the major leagues! Ah youth…
Since graduating from college, I have spent the last 8+ years of my life in the corporate world, with a career that has included demanding 80-100 hour work week jobs in investment banking, management consulting, and healthcare strategy. When I became pregnant, I had no intentions of leaving my job. The biggest question I had was day care or nanny?
Fast-forward 10 months and I realize how unprepared and perhaps naïve I was about how all of this would play out.
As my job continued to get more stressful, I began to notice that I wasn’t enjoying the work like I used to and was simultaneously drained by the time I got home to do my “second shift”. My husband is wonderful but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that working mothers still bear the majority of housework (this statement is supported by multiple research reports).
By the time I got home, I would log back-in to finish up a couple of things, get dinner ready, and then play with my daughter before feeding, bathing, and getting her ready for bed. I began to notice that I wasn’t as present mentally when I was with her. I was often mulling over my bad day at work or thinking about action items from a meeting I just left.
I also noticed that even though I didn’t have as much time to dedicate to Philly Baby Bump during the evenings or weekends, it never FELT like work. Sure, there are some tedious things about managing a website but I really love it all and it feels like I learn something new every day be it posting new content, sharing an article, or resolving a technical issue.
I hit a point where I knew what I needed to do but was afraid to take the next step. This isn’t about being a stay at home mom vs. working mom. This is about that moment when you know FEAR is holding you back (and little things like how the heck am I going to make money if I leave my job?!). But then a girlfriend of mine shared this link with me: https://youtu.be/lKSdmi_CwP8/.
I have often heard the same message throughout my life – to the point that it’s almost become a cliche. I mean who hasn’t right? You have a couple of cocktails, dream big for a little bit, and then go to bed and wake up for work the next day. But this time was different. Something clicked when I watched that video and I knew I needed to just JUMP and go for it.
So what does that mean? Well for me, it means stepping away from a traditional 9-5 job in an office 5 days a week to spend more time with my daughter and pursue something entrepreneurial. At this stage in my life, I don’t believe the corporate America construct is one where I can thrive, personally or professionally.
I will now be a stay-at-home mom that also works part-time from home. We will still keep our nanny while I figure out this period of transition (which means I have to figure things out quickly $$$) but I think it will probably evolve more into a part-time/mother’s helper role depending on what type of work I take on in the near future. Assuming she stays of course but that is a whole ‘nother discussion…
Professionally, I will focus my time on a couple of upcoming projects for Philly Baby Bump (more to come!) and building out a business idea that I have to help women like me: mothers who work but feel that the traditional 9-5 set up may not be for them and want to explore other options.
The fear is still strong and very present. Because really, how the heck am I going to make money?!
But if I have to do multiple lower-paying freelancing jobs that allow me to work from home, eat PB&J for dinner, and cut back significantly on all things good (including my beloved wine), it will still be worth it.
Even two weeks removed from my full-time job, I feel like I am really getting to know my daughter in a different way. While some would say that’s because I’m spending more time with her, I don’t think it’s that simple. I actually think it’s because I am more present when I am spending time with her.
Not having distractions from a job that I came to dislike has freed up so much mental space. Will it always be like this? Probably not, but for now I am enjoying getting to be with her as she takes her first steps and becomes a beautiful little person.
I really want to emphasize that making this move was not at all easy. I straddle the world of a business professional that has an MBA from a top school and has worked at some of the most prestigious corporations with a woman whose immigrant Kenyan mother tirelessly worked 2-3 jobs when she was growing up (including overnight and weekend shifts). My mother is such an incredible source of inspiration to me and I worry leaving corporate America may seem indulgent.
Because let’s be REAL:
Bills are REAL.
Student loan debt is REAL.
Leaving a high-profile job with a six-figure salary is REAL.
But for me, this is something I have to do. I NEED to do. If I don’t, I will regret it and I can’t live my life like that. Whether I fail or succeed, at least it’s my authentic journey.
Until then, it’s time for a lot of prayers and pb&j sandwiches!
Victoria, creator of Philly Baby Bump