“It ain’t ditch diggin’.”
That’s my all-time favorite quote about working as an anchor in television news. My all-time favorite co-anchor would say it every time we or another anchor would complain about something we had on our plates for the day.
I mean, honestly. What’s more annoying than hearing a well-compensated television news anchor complain about doing a job that 99.9% of the rest of the world population would consider to be a grade below breathing on the scale of simplicity? Not much.
It’s been six months since I left my job as a main anchor (and above joke aside, of course I know it is a truly important and wonderful job), but in the time I’ve been back in the land of the living and slipped into my new role as a stay-at-home mom, I’ve noticed some uncanny similarities between life in a newsroom, and life as a stay-at-home mom.
I like to think my 15 years in the most notoriously unpredictable career of them all—television news—has prepared me in some unexpected ways for staying home and taking care of barely keeping alive my two, almost three, young kids.
So here goes.
Everything I Know About Being a Mom I Learned in a Newsroom
Lesson #1: Someone is always screaming.
In a newsroom, it’s the fearless assignment desk manager who has found the new lead for your 5pm newscast, trying desperately to inform the newsroom that they got something good, yet amazingly—or rather, frustratingly—no one is listening.
At home? It’s you. Screaming at your kids to sit down/stay still/put away the Legos/not smear the wall with paint/make their beds/not walk in on you as you pee. Grab the Ricolas. You’re gonna be testing the limits of your vocal chords.
Lesson #2: There are voices living inside your head. Don’t even try to ignore them.
As an anchor, it’s your producer’s voice. In your IFB. Screaming, “GO WITH PROMPTER!!!!!” or, “NEXT STORY IS DEAD! SKIP TO 42! 42!!! 42 G-D IT!!!” Soothing Sounds of the Rainforest they are not.
At home? It’s your kid’s daily refrain of, “Mom! Can you come wipe my butt now?”
Technically, you can ignore the voices in either circumstance, but let’s be honest: You’d be a real idiot if you did.
Lesson #3: Rundowns don’t mean s***.
As a mom? Replace “rundowns” with “daily plans.” You want to get the kids to school on time at 9? You better werk, b****.
Every mom knows that a 9:00 call time means you get up at 6:30, jump out of bed and literally into your clothing for the day (I suggest leaving your pants at bedside for maximum get-ready speed), have DVR’d programming ready to rock as soon as they sit down for breakfast so they stay still, and pack those lunches the night before or risk sending them to school with a jar of peanut butter and pretzel sticks. Again.
And yes, despite your adherence to all of the above suggestions, you will still be late, you will have to change at least one kid’s shirt or pants, and will not come even close to consuming your desperately-needed coffee.
In a newsroom? Well, you know what that phrase means. What’s that saying about “the best-laid plans” again? Oh yeah.
The more you prepare for tonight’s show to be The Emmy Winner, the more likely you are veer into Live-Cows-Running-All-Over-the-Highway-live-shot territory in your A-block. Don’t fight it. Embrace the bovine absurdity.
Lesson #4: No one really cares what you think.
In Newsroom Life? My on-air reporter and anchor friends, this means us. You see all those people that are actually in the newsroom all day, hard at work, researching and stringing together those words that we so blithely spit out on set? They don’t care that your decency was offended by their accidental use of passive tense in one script. And they shouldn’t have to. Just make the necessary changes in your scripts and shut up.
In Mom life? Lesson #4 boils down to, your kids don’t care about you.
They love you, yes! They want to be around you, yes! But otherwise? Just show up and do the damn thing for them already.
You got up at 6:30pm and your butt has still, literally, not touched one sitting surface at 4:30pm? Sorry, lady. Get that mac and cheese ready.
You are about to bite into the first morsel of food you will taste all day, but your 2-year-old wants Bear and wants her NOW? Put down the sandwich and find the damn animal. (And no, I don’t mean that Bear; I mean the other one. The one you didn’t even know existed that’s jammed on the top shelf of her closet in the corner? That one.)
Put up, and shut up, lady.
Lesson #5: It’s damn hard work, but it’s the best kind of work there is.
In Newsroom Life? You know why so many people coo, “Oh man, that’s the coolest job!” when you tell them what you do? Because it is. And we are honored to do it (or in my case, to have done it).
There is no end to the need for truth and accountability in our world, and thank God there are people willing to put up with the horrible pay and Circadian-rhythm-wrecking shifts to do it.
In this day and age more than ever, we need journalists. Good ones. Ones who care. Ones who—as silly as some think it sounds—are willing to do the hard work that lots of people don’t have the guts for. Truly, thank a journalist today.
And in Mom life? Well, I don’t need to tell the other parents out there that spitup and exhaustion and a near-relinquishing of one’s own hobbies and prior identity is often the price you pay to have a tiny little person call you “Mom” or “Dad,” but it is. The sacrifices are big, but they’re worth it. Truly, thank your Mom today.