Monday, July 7, 2014

3 Reasons I Quit My Job before Baby

As we all do time to time when filling space with strangers, a woman at the store asks me a question. But today, my answer is anything but routine.

“So, what do you do?”
A profound silence passes before I eek out, “Nothing."

This is my first day not working since I chose indefinite maternity leave. And little did that woman know, that her innocent question just threw me head-first into reflection, self-judgement and panic. 

For so many years, my identity has revolved around my career. A career for which I have worked long hours, taken every (unpaid) opportunity, and managed to cultivate an Excel spreadsheet about a mile wide full of pertinent contacts. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, it's also a career in the spotlight. From feature reporting on TV, to my most recent stint as a morning radio host, I got used to finally being somebody. And now, at my prime, where my face is on a gosh-darn bus, I am walking away.

The woman seems to notice my sudden silence and consternated look. 

"Um...well, what did you do before you got pregnant?" she fumbles. 

My fight-or-flight eases up a bit as I recall the time - three or so months ago - when I made the decision to quit. Amid a gaggle of reasons, I just had this feeling that there was no other (better) choice. So, without much reluctance, I bid one of my favorite jobs "adieu" and as of today, have embarked on a journey to figure out how I'll be, think and feel as a new mom, and how working will fit into family life.

So what were the reasons? Why leave a 10-year career of winning awards and ladder-climbing in the media, when that call from L.A. could be just around the corner?

  1. I don't want to be forced back to work.
    “There's nothing worse than being forced back to work on day 90, kicking and screaming,” says one of my husband's friends, who recounts his wife's traumatic experience of being thrown back into the sizzling pan of the workplace – its demands bringing her to a boiling point days later when she quit. Not only did she, like many women, say it's devastating to leave their babies, but just going from zero to 60 – and by that I mean the full performance most employers expect from new moms – is just rough. In my case, the radio station told me that after maternity leave (which I shouldn't take too much of, because “people forget about you after three months,” as one consultant informed me), I needed to return on a full-time basis. I personally know SO many strong women who can handle full-time, full-steam-ahead work – using what little power they have left after all the sleep deprivation and breast-pumping in the supply closet. But just knowing how hard pregnancy has been on me, I feel like I would need some flexibility upon return; some definite compassion. Not to mention, in a country that has literally the worst maternity leave in the world, don't you think some empathy, some flexibility, is the very least an employer could offer upon your return? So, leaving work was  the only way I figured I can return on my terms; when I'm ready to give 100 percent.
  2. I'm in a good place.
    Who knows where my career will go after motherhood?
    I feel good about the place my husband and I are at in our lives. Our relationship is rock solid, we have our priorities literally on paper (we'll talk budgeting in an upcoming blog), and he is incredibly supportive of me taking time to do what every mammal does after birth...focus solely on baby. (We already had the “will you resent me if I'm not working” conversation – which, by the way, ended in a resounding, “no” as he, like most men, are just grateful you're carrying on their lineage.) And you've gotta trust your gut; I just FEEL taking my time to come back is the right decision. When I was just a few months pregnant, I felt inspired to get certified as a yoga instructor; a process that involves exploring yourself from the inside out, which allowed me to figure out the difference between true happiness, and ego-driven desires. And though a career in the media definitely makes me happy, I do not need it in the next few months to serve as fuel for my ego. I know that if I'm meant to succeed in the field – especially in a town that knows I've earned my stripes – I will find something again when the time is right.
  3. A baby marks not only the transition into motherhood, but into the rest of your life.
    Who knows what doors will open for me, or how my passions will change after becoming a mom? I have already started a business, and have been teaching yoga pretty regularly from my magical at-home studio. I love it! I love working from home and also, having the freedom to move at my own pace for once in my life. I'm also excited about the possibilities in a media career after I've had some precious time to myself and with my family. I'll be a new person with new priorities and a renewed ambition. 

Especially today, where I'm making my husband pancakes and cleaning the house like a mad woman, I've noticed that I'm one of those people (Virgo? Tiger?) whose worth is largely defined by what I'm doing. And as stark as the transition may be from doing career work to doing what's best for my family, I am grateful for this time to finally define my worth based on who I am. And that, I now realize, is not nothing, after all.


  1. This made me cry a little! Good for you!

  2. I love this. I've been learning in the past few years that we change in ways we never knew we would. I'm so excited for you and your new journey. Xoxo. You're amazing and beautiful.

  3. Amanda I am so proud of you!!! Can't wait to meet your lil one!! What an inspiration you are!! Hugs Aunt Carrie

  4. Reallt beautiful, Amanda, and wise. All good things!

  5. Congratulations Amanda! You will be successful no matter what you do or where you go. If you make the decision to return to media, it won't be long until you are on a billboard or bus again. You seem happy and that is what matters most!

  6. I am just beaming, my friends. Thank you so much for taking the time to read, and to give me some encouragement! You don't know how much your words and friendship means to me. LOVE!!!

  7. Oh Mama. This is your story and you shape it and write it how you want. I faced the same decision when my 2nd child was about to enter this world. Was i really going to give up a blooming career in Pediatric Physical Therapy?! My passion had always been baking and pastries so I baked from home and built a really great business while being the best mom & wife I could be. Last August I walked away from a head pastry chef position that I loved, to be a lunch lady. It meant I could spend the most time possible with my 4yr old surprise baby. All those other things were just earlier chapters. That baby girl I chose over work turns 18 next week. My life has been a journey that I wouldnt change. So go feed your soul and be the best wife, mom, and yogi as you can be. Look back fondly with no regrets. Blessed to have called you friend "once upon a time" :) much love girlie

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