Saying goodbye to the working world

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

I can vividly remember a day, nine years ago today, that was filled with tears, last-minute snuggles and through-the-roof anxiety.

It felt different the second time around for me; it proved even more challenging than the last.

It wasn’t just the typical, unrelenting exhaustion that I was dealing with this time. I was consumed by much more than the normal baby-separation blues.

My final day of maternity leave, after my daughter’s birth, was one that will be forever burned into my memory.

It came only a few short days after receiving my beautiful baby girl’s rare genetic disorder diagnosis. After learning this news, how was I supposed to EVER leave her side again?

I had only spoken to our Genetics doctor by phone at that point. He had explained my daughter’s chromosomal deletion with great kindness.

He was very patient and compassionate as I asked a plethora of questions through uncontrollable sobs.

Until the day arrived for our face-to-face office visit, I drove myself crazy turning to Google for more answers.

I desperately scoured the internet for information on her Chromosome 1q43q44 deletion. I did not like what I found. There were very few articles on this rare condition, and each one of them was bleak.

How could this really be happening?

Somehow, with energy drink in hand, I returned to my job and survived those first few days back at work.

With an abundance of caffeine in my system, and what felt like an enormous boulder sitting on my shoulders, I pushed through.

It took all that I had, but I managed to put on a smile and a brave face. I focused, as much as possible, on my work. I settled back in as well as could be expected.

For a moment, I believed that I COULD do it; working away from home was feasible. That confidence was fleeting. Everything changed after I left work early on a Tuesday to meet my husband for our in-person Genetics consultation.

I clearly remember walking into my boss’s office the following morning. Everything was different now. I was so nervous and had a giant lump in my throat.

My boss was the best you could ever ask for. Not only as a Director, but as a human being. He was fair and kind. My co-workers were also like family. I loved my job in Human Resources.

The work was fast-paced and serving our employees was gratifying.

However, after learning all that I needed to do to ensure my daughter would live her best life possible, my decision was clear.

I couldn’t bear the thought of not being at home, for every single moment of her life. My husband was completely supportive.

My Mom was proud of my resolution. That was all the reassurance I needed.

Once the words, “I’m sorry, but I have to resign”, came out of my mouth, the weight of the world quickly left me.

I felt free. I could breathe.

There would be intense financial stress and major lifestyle changes to come, but none of that mattered.

I worked on for another month and I cried when I walked out the door of that life for the last time. My new life and my new purpose were waiting for me.

Is this the right choice for every parent? Of course not. Would the extra income have been extremely helpful along the way? Absolutely.

Every situation is different. Every family is unique. In my case, my whole heart was at home, and I just had to be there.

We were given a diagnosis and with it, we were handed great uncertainty. Already having a son diagnosed with ASD, this was what I had to do.

There was no question. As scary as it was, it led to a whole new beginning, and with it came a fresh new lease on life.

For all the therapies, sicknesses, specialist appointments, school events, transitioning my son to online homeschool, etc., I have fortunately been able to be present.

For all the precious little moments with my children, I’ve had a front row seat. For the memories we continue to make, I am grateful. They are priceless. I don’t want to miss a single thing.

I gave up a considerable piece of my identity and a comfortable paycheck, but I have gained so much more.

Nine years later, looking back, I’d do it all over again.

All the stresses and financial strains have been worth it, to be where we are today.

My selfhood has changed; I love being a stay-at-home Mom. I also get to be an advocate, a special needs parenting blog writer, and an organizer of meaningful community events.

It’s not easy…there is no sick time, no vacation allowance, and no annual monetary bonus in this job.

It can be quite lonely, overwhelming and isolating at times, but the peace of mind outweighs all of that, insurmountably.

This is who I was meant to be. Saying goodbye to the working world was not a decision to be taken lightly.

I’m thankful that I did…The ending of that world gave way to something bigger.

Closing that chapter ultimately gave way to a most wonderful new world.

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