This article originally appeared on Women’s Wednesdays speaker Janice Jones’ blog in 2007, entitled:
I’VE ALWAYS BEEN FOND OF FRESH AIR.
Last year, I left a 14 year career in television- to get some fresh air.
I am now a stay-at-home mom.
A write-at-home mom?
I don’t mind “good wife” either.
Why did I leave?
One January day, I admitted to myself that I no longer liked my job.
In fact, the normal stresses of being a broadcast meteorologist now seemed unbearable.
But, specifically, I could not think of what was really wrong. What needed to be fixed? Why was I unhappy?
That’s when I admitted it. I WAS unhappy. As soon as I admitted it, it got worse.
I bemoaned the weather conferences I had annually attended and considered the highlight of my year. The visiting children’s school classes, the public speaking engagements, even severe weather became dreaded events, not the “icing on my cake” that I had always considered them. It was all too much for me.
I prayed for the weather to be quiet, for no one to invite me to host their event. I wanted rest, anonymity, uneventfulness.
I began to robotically attend to my daily job of forecasting the weather, drawing maps and presenting my work on TV for 3 minutes every night- 4 times a night.
I was not having fun.
For 14 years, I had been passionate about my work. There was nothing else I was meant to do. The challenges, changes, high-energy, action, stress, deadlines, public-scrutiny….kept me going.
A few months earlier, I had suffered a miscarriage. And now, when I needed to be distracted, I was stopping to think.
I thought about how little I saw my prized-possessions, my husband and son, at the same time.
I thought about how I was tired, frustrated, grouchy or down-right mean to my son during “my shift”.
I would arrive home at 12:30am and force myself to bed by 1am. The tap-tapping of little fingers would begin just 5 hours later. I tried every stall tactic there is: pleading, yelling, sending the dog in to play, television, books, ziplocks of cereal…anything that would buy me a few more minutes of sleep. Although I badly longed for play and quality time with my cherished son, I just wasn’t feeling it at 6am.
Out of bed I’d go…down to make breakfast, which he always wanted not now, but 2 minutes ago.
“I’m hungry, I’m hungry… I don’t want that, I want this. Please eat Troupe. Please hurry Troupe. Please get dressed Troupe. Here, sit and watch TV, Troupe, while I shower.”
On a typical day, I’d race Troupe off to preschool so I could go talk to other school kids about the weather. I’d leave the house at 9 a.m., dressed, in full makeup and hair fixed to last through the 11pm newscast that night.
That day, there’d be no lunch at home, no dinner at home, no bed-time stories, no catch up time with my husband. In fact, most days, I hadn’t seen him since lunch the day before. My son, I would not see again until the 6 a.m. tapping began the next morning.
Here and there, Troupe and I would sneak in a coloring session, a round of trains, a puzzle, a Gymboree class or trip to the museum. Then I’d race home, hit the shower, ready myself for work and set off for another round of winter forecasting and live TV into the late night hours.
I felt completely over-extended and with a family life out of control. So, it felt good to try to control my husband’s “shift.” The hours I was away at work “Dad” would become mom, playmate, chef, dog-sitter, house-cleaner and all the things I’d been that morning. And he was doing all this after coming home from a full day at work beginning at 2am. Not to mention, sans the motherly instinct.
What was my response to this? I admonished dad for not playing ball with him more often, not teaching him to ride his tricycle, letting him eat cereal on the couch or disciplining him the wrong way.
I couldn’t do it anymore. I shared my feelings with my husband and a weight lifted from his shoulders. He wanted me around more too, as a wife, a friend, a mom. We wanted life to be as it had been in our “Keeping Up With The Joneses” program, except we didn’t want it squished into a 3 hour photo-shoot. Going on shoots with him had been the best quality time we’d had in months.
We talked, cried, yelled, panicked, planned and agreed. I wanted to be at home more and that meant quitting my full-time career.
It’s been 6 months since I left work.
My husband tells me nearly every day how happy he is to “have me around”.
We eat dinner together every night. We go roller skating, take the dogs on hikes and have family “Go-Fish” nights.
I’ve been reading constantly and taking Troupe on road trips. Donald gets to go for 3 hour bike rides. Troupe is taming his training wheels and has a pretty decent handicap at disc golf.
Still to this day, Troupe sometimes sneaks into my room before the dawn’s light and lies down with his blanket on the floor at the foot of my bed, wanting to be near me, but fearing to wake me up too early. That’s when I happily climb out of bed, scoop him up and pile him under the blankets with me. We cuddle, we read, we play superheroes, eat cereal (on dad’s side of the bed) or just watch cartoons (we switch over to see Daddy on the news every few minutes). It’s quality time I would not give up for a job on the ‘Today Show.’
There is a small window of time for cuddling my son unabashedly, for making up funny hill-billy dances to “The Berenstain Bears” theme song, for laughing hysterically during foamy teeth-brushing. Before I know it, I’ll be tap-tapping Troupe’s arm and telling him “Hurry up Troupe, or you’ll be late for class.”
I left my soaring career in broadcast television before the window closed.
I have always been fond of fresh air.