You all know the story of how I went to college at the University of Missouri (#1 journalism program in the country, whoohoo!) to become the next Katie Couric, right? And clearly that worked out really well for me.
One of my very best college friends had the same ambitions and actually did “make it.” Maybe not as the next Katie Couric, but as the one and only Julie Kroenig, morning anchor for WKRN in Nashville.
She’s now known as Julie Forbes, and I am GIDDY to announce she’s contributing here while working discover new, amazing versions of herself. I can’t wait for you all to get to know her, starting with her transition from the news desk to staying at home with her babies.
I never saw myself being a stay-at-home mom. In fact, two years ago, I would have been mortified by the thought.
Upon graduating college, I followed my dreams of becoming a news anchor with fervor. Move to a city I’d never heard of before? No problem. Get paid minimum wage? Sign me up. I followed my dream from one tiny city to the next, knowing that I had to get experience in small markets to keep climbing the ladder to the networks.
Along the way, I met and fell in love with my now-husband.
Jonathan and I moved to Nashville so he could complete his neurosurgical residency at Vanderbilt. I had to force myself to lay off the ambition accelerator because, well, love changes things… and he had a 7 year commitment to his residency program. I was okay with it; I was anchoring the morning show (4am-7am) at a network affiliate in a top 30 market. There were worse places a 25-year old could be.
By 29, we were married and I was pregnant.
If I thought it was tough waking up at 1:30 in the morning before, pregnancy kicked my ass. I can’t tell you how many times I took cat naps under the anchor desk during commercial breaks. My co-workers often found me asleep on the floor of the make-up room. Sometimes, I would get so light-headed, I couldn’t even read the Tel-E-Prompter.
Then, the baby was born, and I had to add his needs to my and my husband’s already crazy work schedules. We hired a part-time nanny to come in the mornings, but, after the nanny left, I was on my own until bedtime. Hiring a nanny for the evening wasn’t in the budget (news anchors don’t make as much as you probably think).
My husband couldn’t help because he was learning how to cut open peoples’ skulls and operate on their brains. He worked around the clock. Our support net was so thin that on more than one occasion, I had to bring my son into work with me in the middle of the night. Video proof here…
Before the baby was born, I’d get into bed around 4pm. Ha! Try telling a newborn to go to sleep at that hour. I was working all night and taking care of a baby all day. I felt like I was crawling from one period of sleep to the next. I needed toothpicks to keep my eyes open, and I’d constantly lose track of what I was saying (not good on a 3 hour live news show).
Then, I got pregnant again. That’s when I really learned what tired was.
One morning during the first trimester, I woke up, rolled over and looked at the clock. I blinked my eyes a few times. Then I rubbed them because I couldn’t possibly be reading the clock correctly. It said, 6:15am. 6:15am? I thought, that can’t be possible. It’s a weekday. And I don’t have the day off work. The panic set in. 6:15am! The show started more than 2 hours ago. I screamed, “Jonathan! How is it 6:15am?”, and ran to my phone.
The first thing I saw was a notification that I had never seen before; it said something along the lines of: Your alarm has been disabled after 30 minutes. My alarm had gone off for 30 minutes and my husband and I both slept right through it!
I checked my missed calls. 15 of them. Several calls each from the TV station, my co-anchor, our producers, and another number that looked really familiar, but I couldn’t place it. I called the TV station and blurted out, “I’m so sorry! I overslept!”
Our executive producer responded, “It’s okay. We’re glad you’re safe. There’s no point of you coming in now, try to get some sleep.” “Thank you, I’m sorry,” I told him. He said, “No problem, see you tomorrow. Oh, and you’ll want to go outside and let the police know you’re okay.”
The police!? That was the number I saw on my phone! (Any person in news knows the city’s non-emergency police number). I had never overslept in my six years at the station; they thought something had happened to me when I was walking to my car in the middle of the night.
I ran down the steps, out the front door (in my skimpy nightgown) to find half a dozen police officers, police cars and our station photographer sitting outside my house. Breathless, I told the officers, “I’m sorry. We overslept.”
One of them replied, “There’s no way. We’ve been banging on your door, pounding on your windows, ringing your doorbell and calling your phone for 30 minutes. No one could have slept through that.” I said, “You don’t understand. We’re both really tired.”
And then I fainted in the street.
After that, the station let me start working part-time. I still had to get up at 1:30am, but I could leave work at7am to take a nap while our nanny watched our son. It helped me get through the pregnancy.
Our daughter was born last March, and while I was on maternity leave, my husband completed his residency and took a job in Northern California. We moved here last summer, and I haven’t looked for work since.
People ask me all the time, “Do you miss it?” I think back to that morning I overslept, and I say, “Not enough.”
Sure, I miss it. I miss it when I pass a live truck and I wonder what story they’re covering. I miss it when I hear stories from my news friends about important stories they’re working on, famous people they interviewed or cool events they hosted. I miss it when I hear people talking about current news stories and I realize I’m no longer the one announcing the information. But, I don’t miss it enough.
Now, when I am with my kids, I feel like I’m really with them. I’m not online trying to keep up with the day’s current events. I’m not e-mailing with co-workers or sources. I’m not exhausted from working all night. My kids are now my first priority, as they should be.
This is the age where my kids actually want to hang out with me. I know there will come a time when they won’t want me around, and will wish I would go to work. And maybe then I will.
I’m not sure what it will be doing, but I like to think there are several amazing versions of me inside waiting to be discovered. I always remind myself that Julia Child was 37 when she took her first cooking class. I hope at the end of my life, I can say, “In my 20s, I was a news anchor. In my 30s, I was a mom. And in my 40s, I did X.” I’m not sure what it will be.
All I know is, for now, I’m signing off.
You can follow along with Julie as she navigates this new chapter of her life over on her Julie Forbes Facebook page. She’ll also be writing here about it, too, and I’m seriously so excited about that.
If you transitioned from a career you loved to staying at home with your kids, even if just temporarily, I’d love for you to share words of encouragement and wisdom with us!