The Decision to Leave My Career

By: Shonnelle Cummins

Decision Home

My decision to leave my career was not easy but the best decision I made. I left my career with the Government to raise my three year old son and two-year old daughter. I also have a 17 year-old Junior in High School that I want to spend as much time with before he graduates and leaves home to start his own journey in life. Being a wife and mother to our three children are my most important responsibilities. I enjoyed living life with family while working outside the home, but something was missing. My life was out of balance, out of order, and becoming overwhelming.

After serving my country for 15 years as an Army Soldier then Government Civilian, I recognized my lack of service to the people I loved most. Like everyone else, my life had changed drastically over those 15 years but my priorities not as much. Fifteen years ago I was serving in the U.S. Army in Giebelstadt, Germany as a single Soldier while my 2 year-old son was in the U.S. with my mother.  After a three-year tour in Germany, two deployments to Iraq, and two changes of duty stations, my son and I were finally reunited in 2006. Two years later, my husband and I married after a seven-year friendship. By 2012, our family had grown by four feet due to the birth of our two youngest children.  My life had significantly changed from the single-parent Soldier separated from my young son to being married with three children and a great career. Although my life had changed, the “mission-first” mindset I obtained while serving in the Army stayed with me through every life change.

My mindset changed in 2014. I realized that my “secure Government job” was not fulfilling and I had had enough. After eight years, I was tired of receiving new first- and second- line supervisors ever summer. I did not enjoy earning the trust of new leadership just in time for them to move to their next assignment for a promotion. I learned a lot and became the go-to person in my office with “institutional knowledge.” I am grateful for the opportunity to have served with great Army Soldiers and Officers of all ranks and Army Civilians; but I soon realized that if I wanted a change, I would have to do something. I thought maybe a change of scenery would satisfy my need for change so I began looking for other career opportunities. With no success, I got frustrated and had reached the end of my rope. I had to do something and soon.

Trying to figure out my next move, I knew I wanted to do something I loved and not what I was good at – something more rewarding. I often thought “to get what I’ve never had, I must do what I’ve never done.”  In my heart, I wanted to be home with my two young children to experience what I had missed with my oldest son. I desired to make memories with my children that are not easily forgotten and thought how fast time had already passed; and I didn’t want to miss another moment. That’s when I realized I wanted to be home.

The thought of leaving my “good Government job” to be home with my children sounded crazy and that’s how I knew it would be my next move. This outside-of-the-box thought surprisingly resonated within my inner-most desire to be home with my children. Since I am a creature of habit and not much of a risk-taker, it was difficult for me to wrap my mind around the fact that I would no longer work outside the home but I was happy to have come to a decision that made me smile every time I thought about it.

Being home with my children is an ultimate reward for me taking such a huge risk completely out of my comfort zone. Life isn’t the same and no two days are alike. This is completely different and what was missing from my life. In addition to the adjustment of being home all day with minimal adult interaction, I also had to adjust to an ever-changing schedule and my new two- and three-year old bosses. I am whole-heartedly pleased with my decision to leave my career for my family and my only regret is that I didn’t leave sooner.

My advice to a working mom considering staying home with her children is:

  1. If married, share your desire with your husband and get in agreement about you leaving your job. Don’t be upset if you are unable to leave your job right away. Timing is everything!
  2. Set a date and come up with a plan. Review the plan often to make sure you’re on track.
  3. Have a support system. Get to know your neighbors and make new friends because you never know when you will need help.
  4. Schedule time as often as you can to have time for yourself and by yourself. It is vitally important that you recharge your battery. You’d be surprised what 15 or 30 minutes alone can do for you at the end of a long day.
  5. Talk with other stay-at-home moms (SAHM), read articles, blogs, or websites for SAHMs. Each mom is different but you will find we all experience similar situations.