By Nathalie Hardy | March 14, 2014 | News-Register
It’s with mixed feelings I write this column, announcing another life change for the Hardy family. I’m throwing in the towel on this whole reporter-mama business.
Don’t get me wrong. Being a fulltime reporter on the county beat, while raising two youngsters, can be done. Just not by me.
My husband and I worked over our budget. Bottom line, it’s just not penciling out for me to keep working, whether I want to or not.
It’s no secret: Journalism is a field you enter because you love the work more than the money.
Plus, if you haven’t priced daycare lately, for two full-day kids, it rivals a mortgage payment.
Who can argue with that, though? If I can’t be with them during the day, I want the best in the business keeping my boys’ minds busy and hearts happy. We were lucky to have that with our providers, Creative Kidz.
Then there are associated costs that can’t be measured. For me, one of those was being out of alignment with my core values.
In addition to dreaming about being a reporter, I always pictured myself as the kind of mom who was home after school. I imagined being able to walk my kids home, stopping to point things out along the way as we debriefed about the day.
With my job, my boss is as flexible as possible. But that flexibility is a two-way street.
I am often up way too late, or way too early, juggling calls and interviews while packing sandwiches and throwing the boys treats’ down the stairs or over the backseat in the car to keep them quiet. And all for just one, more, minute!
After nearly two years of doing my best at both, it turns out I’m not doing either one well enough to meet my own standards. So it came time to make a choice.
Going over the budget made it an easier call. Still, it’s hard to realize what you thought you wanted maybe wasn’t the best fit in the end.
A friend recently expressed disappointment in my decision. Not everyone gets what they want, she pointed out. And feminists fought for us so we didn’t have to choose between career and family.
To her first point, I say: Life doesn’t always turn out the way you pictured it, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying to create the life you want. To the second, I say: Feminists fought for a woman’s right to chose, despite the consequences of disappointing someone.
And that’s what I am doing. I am choosing to come back home to be with my boys. I plan to meet my goal of being home with them as long as I can while meeting my goal of publishing a book or two.
I recognize the first will delay the latter, but recently I realized neither will happen as long as I keep trying to maintain balance at the expense of my health and sanity.
I found an exception to George Eliot’s saying, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
My boys are only going to be this age once. If I want to be a stay-at-home mom, writing in the margins, the time for that is now.
Life requires hard choices, and my decision to leave this post to be home with my boys was not made lightly.
Not quite two years ago, I embraced an opportunity to return to the newsroom, a place I loved, to work with people I adore in a job I’d dreamed of having since I was 10 years old.
Then came that awkward moment when my dream job morphed into more of a nightmare, as I tried to balance it with my new reality with two kids, no family nearby and a husband with an equally demanding but significantly higher paying job.
I reached my breaking point on a recent snow day, one of approximately five my kids figure to have in their lifetime. Some friends stopped by as I was trying to work on a breaking story with two cagey kids in the house.
Stories will always break on snow days. It’s the nature of the job.
As much as I wanted to be able to celebrate surprise snow days with my kids, I knew my boss also needed stories done well and on time.
I realized in that moment that I too often felt my biggest blessings were a burden. I had lost the little bit of balance I had left.
“But I always wanted to be a reporter,” I whined. I was crying, the kind where there’s snot and tears.
“So, you were literally living the dream, huh?” my friend said.
Well, when you put it like that, I guess I was. And it it was as clear as the ice on the eaves that my dreams had changed with the reality.
While I’ve loved most of my time back in the newsroom, I’m at peace with my decision.
I make no guarantees, though, that the aforementioned towels are going to be fluffed and folded once I resume my stay-at-home mom status. After all, I will have to leave some margins open for writing this column, which will continue running, in addition to keeping up on my long-neglected blog at www.nathaliesnotes.com and embarking on a book project.
Contact Nathalie Hardy at firstname.lastname@example.org.