My career started out in a crazy, hectic newsroom. I was far from being a mom, but I knew I wanted to have children eventually. It was always in the back of my mind, the pesky question of how I’d balance motherhood with the ten-hour days that came with the territory. After all, news jobs required a devotion to the product like nothing else, and my coworkers took that to heart: I worked with a news manager who came to work on the day his wife gave birth—to twins—because we were in the middle of a sweeps period. My phone rang in the middle of the night and my pager went off at all hours. How could I have a child with these kinds of demands? I didn’t see how I could be the parent I wanted to be with so much of my time consumed by my job. And so, after a few years, it was time for a change.
I moved on to become a PR rep for a major hub airport. Along with the job, I got yet another pager and a cell phone, and they were “baptized by fire” when the tragic events of 9/11 unfolded. From there, I dealt with bomb threats, lockdowns, planes veering off of runways, blizzards, and internal scandals: all with the accompanying reporter calls and after-hours demands. I spoke with reporters on my cell phone while I was at the dog park, in my midwife’s office, and from other odd locations…like the ladies’ room.
Somehow my husband and I managed to have a baby in the midst of the nuttiness, and after a brutally short, 6-week maternity leave, I limped back to work, desperately missing my son and struggling with guilt. I pumped milk at my desk while gazing at photos of my son and sometimes cried out of sheer frustration. I wanted to be home more than anything, but as the primary breadwinner, our family depended upon my paychecks.
During my tenure with the airport I realized I didn’t really want to be the top dog, the go-to spokesperson. My child and husband and our family time were my top priorities, and while I still needed to bring home the bacon, I didn’t have to do it flying at mach five with my hair on fire. As I approached my sixth year in crisis management, I began to interview with other prospective employers, making it clear in the early stages of the interviews that I needed flexible hours. After a few disappointments (like turning down my dream job after it became clear they expected me to work nights and weekends), I responded to an ad for a publicist’s position with an independent publisher and was asked to interview. The vibe was low-key and the atmosphere was peaceful, people had their dogs with them at work, and I quickly got excited about the prospect of promoting something I truly believed in.