The short of the situation is that I work for a friend's very small photography company. It consists of her, three additional photographers, and me. They take the pictures, and I do the rest. Without me, the business does not run. In many ways, it is the dream job - I get paid well for what I do, the hours are mostly flexible, the atmosphere is very casual, and I am also able to bring my infant son to work with me, rather than put him in daycare, since I work from her home.
However, this season has turned out to be far more stressful than I'd imagined. Taking my son to work is very convenient as far as avoiding daycare, but trying to do what needs to be done business-wise and taking care of him is like trying to write the next great American novel and run a nuclear reactor at the same time. They are two completely different full-time jobs.
Additionally, he's five months old and only getting more mobile and aware. It's simply not fair to him to take a nap, watch TV, or sit in his bouncy chair and watch me work. And, that's really all that he can do here, especially since I am occupied with work. It's also not fair to my boss to pay me for hours of less productive work when I'm stopping in the middle of a good stride to feed the little one.
All that said, daycare is not an option. My boyfriend would prefer that I stay at home, but I have issues with independence and my own income/contribution. However, I'm working myself past all of that, and now I'm struggling with how to tell my boss that I am quitting. I would, of course, never leave her hanging or without help, and I would stick around until she finds a good replacement who can take the reigns. I'm just not sure how she is going to handle the news, and I wonder how our friendship is going to be affected by my leaving. She neither has nor wants children, so I am not sure she can understand where I am coming from as a mother who wants more/better time with her growing child.
I am totally lost with how to approach it and what to say. --- Ready to Leave Libby
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Dear Ready to Leave Libby--
You sound extremely dedicated and I am sure your boss would be very flattered if she knew how concerned you were for the well being of the company and your friendship, but as a new mother, you need to do what you feel is best for you and your family. Many women struggle with juggling family life and their career, so you should not feel the least bit guilty for leaving your job -- as you know, sometimes you just can't do it all.
Since your boss is also a friend of yours, be honest with her. Let her know how you have been struggling with your decision to leave and how you feel like you are not able to give 100% of yourself to your craft or to your baby which made you realize you had to choose one or the other, at least for the time being. Even though she doesn't have children of her own, I am certain she will be supportive of your decision. Tell her exactly what you told me - that you will not leave her in the lurch - and hopefully you can work together to find a suitable replacement.
Feeling guilty isn't going to make the situation any better, so have faith that she will understand. If your friend doesn't understand your rationale, I hate to say it but you might want to reconsider your friendship with her altogether. I wish you luck Libby.