The Well Magazine Summer 2012 - Page 22

Living Well How quitting my job set me free By Rhonda J. Smith Rhonda J. Smith was on the fast track. A tenured professor, wife and mother, she seemed to have it all together, but she was falling apart. t was just one thought, fleeting. This flapped then floated in my mind a while, but I let it fly away. Maybe it was my answer but flew in the face of conventional wisdom: You should quit your job. Stay home with the kids. You will be satisfied. Your stress will go away. But I couldn’t do this. I had worked 14 years, went to school for six and had career goals I had yet to meet. As a tenured college instructor I wanted to publish in academic journals, present papers at more conferences, implement a new academic program, develop new courses, teach online and train colleagues. I joined committees, wrote plans and attended conferences to help me meet these goals. All this became less attractive with late night baby feedings and soothing through sicknesses and my daily travel crisscrossing town. I had to rise early every morning to take my baby to my only reliable sitter across town, come back past my house to work, past my house to pick him up and then go home. The travel itself wearied and worried me, giving me only twilight time with my toddler who wanted to discover bugs and leaves as soon as we got out the car each evening. My pants suit and coming darkness didn’t matter to him. The Well Magazine / Summer 2012 I planned for me to be a stay-at-home mom about 10 years into our marriage, after we had saved considerably. My health required that we make this decision four years early. Immediately I was relieved. Though I had two more semesters in sight, I knew there would be an end, an end that I could live with. My colleagues thought I was crazy. “Since you have tenure and are the senior most person in your department, why don’t you take a one year He summoned me to sit on the ground so leave so you can have a job if you decide we could go in search of nature. All he to come back?” I was not willing to return needed was a few minutes, but I longed to a classroom where I had to teach basic for so much more. skills (academic and otherwise) before My pants suits and darkness blinded me instructing public speaking skills, crissand I no longer wanted to see. My sight crossing town, connecting with my huswas headed the way of my band and child briefly during WE HAVE TO GET other senses, all dull or numb, the week and cramming in IN A POSITION TO time on weekends and all the turned off from the stress of wrestling with my reality. I while knowing that I should HEAR WHAT needed to get away. be doing something differGOD—NOT One evening an 18 wheeler ent, something better for my swerved into my lane about to OURSELVES, OUR spiritual, physical, emotional hit me; I kept driving, thinking FRIENDS AND and familial health. I must this collision would be my have told a half dozen colOTHER SOCIETAL escape, that my struggle would leagues no because that was be no more, but in an instant I ADVISERS, not what my husband and I knew that nothing else would INCLUDING THE sensed the Lord wanted me be no more. I slammed on my MEDIA —IS TELING to do. We were not willing to brakes [HX\وX\\\H[[]HۛHXTY \[]Y[[]\\H]]\ۙXY]^HH[[Y][YKH\\Y[XYH[YH^\[KHܚYY[[Yܙ[]܈[YYH]\H[Y\\܈[H^H^H܋Y^H܈YX\YHYH[XXH][[H\\و^H\ؘ[ \\ˈ]\H[YHH\ˈ[ۛHY[XYK8'\H[H]\Z[X'H8'H۸&]Y^HY\H\XH[[Hۛ8'HHZY 8'H۸&][H\]YHX]][]HY[HX\[[[HYHXYH'H]\\Y\ۈHY^KHۙ]HYYX\Y[ۘH]HH[Y\]Z]^H؈܈H[]H]Z]ۈYH[H^YX\[HH]Z]^H؈H[]\HXXH[ۋHY]HYHYX]Y^H\ۈ[