It’s a conversation I’ve had often these past two weeks. “You’re leaving Deloitte Digital? Where are you off to?” “Nowhere yet,” I reply for the millionth time, “Taking some time to find a bit of balance.” The next response comes as almost multiple choice replies; A,”Oh you’re going to be missed so much. I can’t imagine what we’ll do without you. Best of luck.” B, “I’ve been thinking of the same thing but I just can’t find a way to make it happen.” C, “You’re so lucky.”

That last response, ‘C’, as happens with multiple choice replies, is the most common. This makes me bristle. See, I don’t believe in luck. I believe in a year of hard consideration, of watching carefully the health and status of a family, the financial and health benefit planning of boring reality and of jumping head first with a partner to the dark abyss of unknown.

I don’t want to hear I’m lucky. I’m not lucky. I’m sadly late with this action and hoping my family will not suffer the worse for it. I also have little support except the acceptance of a faithful spouse that “Things always work out,” which is more than luck, it’s asking fate to intervene.

It’s not all bad, though. I’m not throwing up the proverbial papers in disgust and running out the door shouting as I make my exit. To be honest, that’s not my style anyway. I’m more of a quiet overachiever, who will continue to work as hard as possible, even up until 4pm on the day I turn in my laptop. I care too much, I work too much, I can’t help myself. It’s for this reason, specifically, that it’s time to make a change. I remind myself that as I catch myself getting teary saying goodbye to familiar faces, friends, and teammates. I will miss them tomorrow. I will not miss the deadlines or commute or trying to balance a demanding corporate job and children and a new puppy. But the people, hell yes, I will miss them.

I won’t try to convey the intensity of all that is encompassed in “demanding corporate job, deadlines, and balance.” I leave that to someone who so eloquently stated my nearly exact experience in a book, “Mom’s on the Brink.” Please please read this and know that I endorse this completely. It’s my experience. I will share more, of course, as the fog of time lifts and my vision clears, but for now, I let someone so much more equipped at this retrospection to explain it in depth.

At the end of the day, the Job won and my Family lost. My Career was winning at a high price and my Family was losing. At the end of the day, every day, I couldn’t say no to One More Pull Request. To Helping This One More Item. It’s partly my fault, partly expectation of the machine, and partly our culture.

What I could change, what We could change, We chose to change. This is not luck, this is sacrifice.

We’re sacrificing not only financially, but our health benefits, now spending weekends finding options through Obama Care. Let’s not dive in to politics at this point but let me say that without this option, my family may have continued down a path of destruction simply because we couldn’t afford benefits on our own. It’s a seemingly small cost but it can cost lives so much quality.

What we’re sacrificing in money, we’re gaining in health. At least that’s our goal. The mental and emotional quality of having a family unit able to be mindfully present each night and each morning at breakfast, without rushing to another call or an early morning check in, we hope, sustains us. My mother said, multiple times, “You think your children need you when they are young. They do, but here’s the thing, they need you exponentially more when they hit Jr High. That’s when you need to be there. Always.”

With a sixth grader and a third grader, musician and athlete, we can’t afford any time away. Two commutes: two and a half hours a day each, sports, music, homework, playdates, and now, puppy. Something had to break and I’m sad to say it was nearly us.

These are the thoughts I remind myself as I sit with my team, feeling the pressure as I no longer am able to contribute. I sit with them, huddled in our “War room” as we look at work remaining to be done before a massive deadline Friday. I know I’m leaving them in a lurch. I feel so guilty of this. “You’re the only one who can do this job,” I’ve heard. It’s comforting because I know I’m appreciated and in a strange way, validated. It’s been tough, and all the bullets I’ve try to shield my other devs from, I now show in my hands, as I share with them the burden coming up on them.

I don’t make a big deal about my leaving. It takes some people by surprise. I’m not good at good-byes. I’m better at, “I’ll see you later,” because I don’t believe in endings. I tell myself this again, as I give out hugs and watch eyes and see, and feel, the emotion behind them. I turn away before they see me get teary. The sincerity of the well wishing starts to crack my resolve. But the family gaining from this decision, not a lucky one, but a difficult one, is waiting at home.

My most recent project team takes me out to dinner. We share war stories. We’ve bonded in the past few months in the way people who endure hard times always bond: Respectfully, with inside jokes, and a shared sense of worthiness. It’s odd how much I love these people, how much I’ve been frustrated by, angered by, thrilled by, and protected by these very people. I understand the words, “We were on the project {var} together,” as an almost war cry. No explanation is needed beyond that sentence. You’re bonded because you’ve been through something together.

It’s late and my team is just packing up. I know the minute I walk out the door, I can’t come back in. I’ve turned in my badge. There is some niggling as co-workers, or rather ex-coworkers, nudge me saying, “I’ll let you back in. Can you finish that Jira ticket if we assign it to you?”

The thing is I would. Which is why I’m leaving.

I smile, I nod, I feel both terrible and terribly frightened. I feel optimistic and finished. I couldn’t go another minute. I couldn’t go four more days to the finish line, I couldn’t go another step. I think of our brand new puppy, 9 weeks old, when he’s decided there’s no more walking. He sits, among whichever commotion is happening, and waits.

I’m nearly puppy-like in my need to be still now. The family needs me to be still now. I physically can not be part of this wheel. So I have to watch it as I walk out the door.

Hugs are given, more looking-away by me, more wiping of tears, more promising to be in touch, more possibly future work by contract. I know life gets in the way of the closest of friends, I know it will happen to many of us. I also know, life has a way of velcro-sticking those we need to remain in contact with and I know those people will continue to show themselves throughout my now and forever.

It’s at this moment as I’m about to close the locked door, without way of re-interane, on the place that’s nearly as comfortable as home now, that a friend comes running at me with the bottle of wine. “You can’t leave without a gift! You need this!” I laugh, look away again, and wipe the tears. “Of course! Thank you Uncle D!” It’s not an expensive bottle, it’s a $9.99 Costco buy, but the sentiment raises the value ten fold. I’m on the verge when the door closes behind me.

It wasn’t until I finally found myself in the bathroom, that I cry. I look at myself in disbelief. I am crying! At leaving a job! But I take a lesson from my mindfulness app and I go with it. I feel all the feelings. It’s so “Inside out” but it’s also good. I let myself feel the sadness, the frustration that it couldn’t keep working, the disjointed expectation, and I lay the hope of my career at this place at the foot of its grave for the last time. Women in Technology, I spoke so passionately about only a few months previously. “Too many woman are leaving the workforce because of work/life balance.”

Today, I am a statistic.

I drive in the rain, that long commute home, for the last time. I think of a quote that I heard on a podcast recently, “All one ever truly wants is to be missed.” I am thankful for being missed.

I tuck in my children and snuggle with the puppy without thinking of that late night call, or of checking email, or slack. I open that bottle of wine to celebrate, and sit to write my thoughts. It’s the first time in nearly four years I feel the freedom to write this down. The realization hits me like a wave, as I watch the puppy running in his sleep, as I hear my son’s heavy breathing, and my daughter and husband’s “nearly finished epic story-book” being read. I am thankful for this experience, for this day, for this time.

I will end with this, raising my proverbial glass, as only an optimistic could do: Here’s to tomorrow. Here’s to the next forever. Here’s to making the next generation not choose career or family. And, not at all least, here’s to you all, my friends, my teammates, my companions, my sanity, and of course, my family. Thank you for this experience. Thank you. Thank you.