There is an article making the rounds this afternoon about how women in my industry essentially have to choose between work or family. You can read the article here. It notes the crazy hours, the unpredictably of schedule, the pressures from management, etc. If you know anything about me, you can probably guess where I side on this article. To put it nicely, I think it’s b.s.
Let me introduce myself for those who don’t know me. I’m a college sports reporter at ESPN. I’m married with a 2-year-old son and a baby girl on the way. I currently travel between 30-40 weeks a year. My schedule is abnormal for most working parents. My job is stressful, unpredictable and requires a lot of time outside my travel schedule. But guess what, so do a lot of other jobs.
Three years ago when we decided to start a family, we had to make a decision. Do I want to continue working or stay at home? Honestly, it wasn’t really a question for us. I wanted to work. We just had to figure out how to make it work. It was extremely difficult. It required a LOT of help. It still requires a lot of help. My son went on 25+ flights before his first birthday. I’ve literally tossed him to my parents through the TSA security at DFW so I could hop on another flight. It requires a ton of support, both from our family, our crop of babysitters and my station. I’m also aware that I’m extremely lucky to work at a place that has been incredibly supportive throughout my pregnancies and career.
But the hard part isn’t the everyday logistics. It’s how do you handle missing out on your child’s life. I’m gone 3 days every week during football season. For some events I cover, I’m gone for a whole week. I know it will only get harder as my son starts playing sports and asks my why I’m not there. Before children I was used to giving 100% to my job. That’s not possible anymore. You can not give 100% to your job and 100% your family. There’s not enough of you. You will feel like you’re failing at both. At some point you just have to be ok with not being able to give all of yourself to both. Some days my work gets 90% and my family gets 10%. Some days it’s reversed.
Yes, things are definitely harder as a mom than it is for my husband. I manage the house, the schedules, the babysitters, the bills, the groceries, etc. I have to make sure there is someone to pick up my son from school if I’m not there. In a lot of families, this extra stress is put on the mom.
But again, this is my choice. My job comes with a lot more unusual pressures that others don’t. The travel. The on-air appearances. The unpredictability. All of that is noted in the article I mentioned above. I agree with all of those issues. But I wholeheartedly disagree with the notion that we are telling a whole generation of women in our industry that it’s almost impossible to do both. What about doctors? Entrepreneurs? They all have crazy schedules. Go follow Sara Blakely on Instagram. She’s invented Spanx out of her dorm room and is a mom of four kids all under the age of five. She travels all the time. It’s probably hard as heck. She probably misses out on a ton. But it’s her choice, and she makes it work.
This article started several conversations on social media with young women in my business saying they want to quit already because they don’t see how it’s possible to have their career and a family. I have several friends in my industry putting off starting a family because they’re afraid of how it will affect them. I hate that we are telling women that they can’t do both.
I’m not saying “I have it all”. I don’t. I miss A LOT. I’ve missed holidays with my family. I miss my son’s birthday every year because it falls during basketball tournaments. You might decided after having kids that it’s too hard, your don’t want to miss those moments. That’s fine. That’s your choice. But don’t tell women that it’s impossible in our career. We need mothers in this industry. They make better story-tellers and better interviewers. Now that I’m about to have a baby girl, I don’t want her to think she has to quit a job because it’s going to be really hard. Guess what- motherhood in general is really hard. You know what I find harder than managing my career? Being a stay-at-home mom. That’s the hardest job out there.