People ask me all of the time if I miss being on TV. When they phrase it like that, I instantly think of the ego boosts: being on billboards, meeting celebrities, having people stop me in the grocery store to tell me how much they love our news. But, even with that fantasy in my mind, I never respond with, “Yes, I miss it!”
Because after that rose-colored daydream fades away, I instantly remember the early mornings, late nights, holidays at work and constant cutbacks.
I graduated first in my class from the top broadcast journalism school in the country. I moved to a place I had never heard of to get my start. I worked whatever shift they assigned me, bouncing around from one city to the next, all to reach my goal of being on the "Today" show.
Never in a million years did I picture myself being a stay-at-home-mom.
But, then life happens. Next thing you know, I’m the morning anchor at the ABC affiliate in Nashville, Tennessee. I am married, have a 1-year old at home, and am pregnant again.
As the morning anchor, I woke up at 1 a.m., was on the air at 4 a.m., worked a nine-hour day, and then came home to take care of my toddler son. My husband was in his neurosurgery residency at the time; he worked around the clock for not-a-lot of pay, so all of the child care duties fell on me. If I planned it perfectly, I could be asleep by 8 p.m. I’d get five hours of sleep and then I’d wake up to work another 19-hour day.
I was asleep during the first few weeks of pregnancy – you know, those days when everything makes you queasy, and you can't keep your eyes open – when my husband’s pager went off. He called the hospital back, nudged me, and groggily said, “Julie, the TV station called the hospital because they were worried about you when you didn’t come into work.”
I opened my eyes to see that it was 6 a.m. I had slept FIVE hours past my alarm clock. I grabbed my phone in a panic to see my husband and I had slept through numerous alarms and dozens of phone calls. I had missed calls from the TV station, my co-anchor, the producers and a telephone number that looked familiar, but I couldn’t place it.
My heart was racing as I called the TV station back. When our morning producer answered, I blurted out, “I’m so sorry, I overslept!” He responded with, “It’s okay. We’re just glad you’re alright.” As we were hanging up the phone he said, “Oh yeah, and you’ll want to go outside and let the police know you’re okay.”
The police? THAT was the familiar number I saw on my phone that I couldn’t place. (Any news employee knows the non-emergency police number.)
I had never overslept before, so my co-workers thought the worst when I didn’t show up. They sent the police to my house to check on me. I ran down the steps, and out the front door to see several police officers, a handful of police cars and the station’s live truck outside of my house. Standing in my nightgown in the middle of the street, I apologized to everyone who was there, explaining that I had just overslept.
One of the officers looked at me warily and said, “Are you sure everything is okay? There is no way you could have slept through all of us pounding on your windows, ringing the doorbell and calling your phone.”
“You don’t understand,” I said, still panting,“My husband and I are both so tired.” And, with that, I got light-headed and fainted in the street.
After my second child was born, I decided to quit working in TV news.
Four years and two more kids later, my husband and I are in a good place. He focuses on work, and I focus on our kids (and every once in a while, I get to sneak in some time to write for Otteroo).
And when people ask me if I miss being on TV, I think of that morning, and I respond with, “Not enough.”
Sure, I miss it. My job was unique and rewarding, and for 10 years I was living my childhood dream. But, I don’t miss it enough.
Now when I’m with my kids, I feel like I’m really with my kids. I'm not online trying to keep up with current events. I’m not responding to emails or updating my social media page. And, I’m not exhausted from working all night. I’m in the moment.
Right now, my kids actually want to hang out with me. I know there will come a time when they won’t want me around and they’ll wish I would go back to work. And, maybe then I will.
Nobody stops me in the grocery store anymore and tells me how much they love me, but my kids say it to me all the time. And, for me, that’s more than enough.