I am having a tough night…. sitting here in a quiet house. It is past midnight. I have to be up in 4 hours to start my day in a classroom full of students.
Yet, sleep isn’t coming.
Instead, my mind is swimming through my former life. A life from which I walked away almost a decade ago.
I had agonized over that decision. I knew it was the correct one… but there is one emotion I work hard to avoid, always.
Tonight, though, there is a feeling washing over me. It covers me in a way that I know is temporary. I know I can shake this off. All I need is time and perspective.
Boy, do I have a lot to say about perspective, but that’s for later.
Sixteen years ago, I interviewed a woman I knew was someone different. She had a drive not seen in many. I wanted to hire her.
My bosses said no. She didn’t have enough experience to be at a network. She was not ready. I disagreed.
I won. They said it was on me if it didn’t work out. She started a couple of weeks later.
To say I was right is an understatement. This w oman was going places. She had her eyes on the prize and she wasn’t stopping.
I respected that part of her. I was her, just 10 years older. I had set so many goals in my career… and I had met them all. Well, all, except one.
Anyway, watching her, I understood her focus. I didn’t have the same style and I didn’t approach the climb the way she did, but I saw her.
The thing is, I had my first child a year after hiring her. My laser focus on the prize was blurring a bit. I kept feeling a tug when I looked at my baby girl. Two years later, I had my second. This was getting tough.
To stay on the track I was on meant sacrificing time with these beautiful beings. I knew that I had a limited amount of time with them in this life. If my husband and I did this right, they would leave us one day.
Wait! I can do this. I can do both.
For six years after having my first baby, I told myself this. Tears, a severe lack of sleep, hormones while pregnant and after having babies, breastfeeding, pumping in the bathroom, other people caring for and raising my kids…
All the while that goal was going out of focus.
I started putting my family in that picture I had always had of who I was going to be.
We are in New York. I am running the news division of NBC.
Holidays are missed. Big moments are shared through video. Others are coming through for my kids.
That last paragraph was already a reality where I was. There was no reason to believe it wouldn’t be worse in that world I had dreamed about for so long.
So, I walked away. I got off the train.
I weighed all the reasons I knew I wouldn’t regret it.
My kids will be gone in 18 years. Memories are being made and I wanted to be in them.
Plus, I had no doubt that I had exceeded my expectations on who I would be as a news broadcaster. I knew that, while I am far from perfect, I had rocked that career.
It was time to find something that would let me be a more present mom.
Don’t get me wrong. Others do that balance well. I just could not. I needed to give 100% to my job. I needed to give 100% to my family. I was never a balanced person. Neither part of my life was ever turned off.
Plus, this career was a 24 /365. The news and weather did not conveniently happen during a 40 hour work week. I had to walk away to find balance.
So, tonight, I found out the woman I hired 16 years ago has made it. She took that climb, did not get off the train… and made it.
I am happy for her. I am also feeling a little pleased with myself that I was right about her.
But, there is another emotion. Is it regret? I think it might be.
What I am learning is there is no true resolution for anything. At 20, you see the world one way. At 35, your eyes may want a different prize.
Then, one day, you could be days away from 50 and wonder, What if?
You can be absolutely sure about something and change your mind later, because your perspective changed.
There is that word again.
Perspective. More on that later.