Julie Lyles Carr: So How Did You Make the Decision to Stay Home With the Kids?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So How Did You Make the Decision to Stay Home With the Kids?

The afternoon was so hot that the pavement sent up apparitions of opaque waves, scintillating wafts of heat blurring the brick of the building just beyond the gruesome scene in front of me. I shifted in my spike heels, a trickle of sweat running down the inside of my satin maternity blouse and I knew. I knew it was time to let my life take another course.

It had not been my intention to enter the world of radio and television news, and yet through a series of connected events, I began paying my dues while still in college, manning a mic after a radio manager who attended the same Human Communication class took a liking to my speaking voice. After an audition, I was hired, learning to run a sound board and modulate my voice to a smooth yet interesting cadence (I hoped). I ultimately was invited to join a morning team at a competing radio station and from there was asked to come in for an on-camera audition with a CBS television affiliate. And so the girl who had initially planned to become a psychologist and help people solve their problems ultimately found herself commissioned in the world of news to simply reveal problems.

When Mike and I married, I was working crazy hours, still hosting the radio morning show and then hitting the television studio, going from early, early in the morning until night. For quite a while, it worked. Mike himself was finishing up classes and was working for a state representative and those commitments kept him on the run. We would meet in passing, swapping stories, a meal, trying to figure out if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean or dirty.

I ultimately decided that it was time for me to leave the radio morning show. I adored the comradery of the show, the back and forth jesting between myself and my fellow hosts. But two of us had been asked to come start a syndicated program in a new little thing called satellite and it would have necessitated a move away from Mike while he finished up course work. I wasn't willing to be away from him and so I decided it was an opportune time to focus completely on television.

And so it continued, life becoming a blur of live shots and studio sets, editing deadlines and controversial stories. Stress was a way of life. Viewers who loved my clothes, my voice, my hair occasionally called the studio. Viewers who hated my clothes, my voice, my hair occasionally called as well. There wasn't a lot of time to consider if I liked my career or not. There was always the next deadline to meet.

Then there was the ski trip to Utah.

I was tired when we headed to Utah to hit the slopes. We skied. I slept. We skied some more. I slept some more. I thought I was just exhausted from the crazy schedule we had been keeping. I thought it was the altitude. That was part of it.

And then there was my condition.

My maternal condition.

Toward the end of our ski vacation, the date on the calendar hit me like a bolt. It was the end of March? When had it become the end of March? And if it was the end of March, then when was my last cycle?

I purchased a little stick.

And it seemed to indicate that I was gestating.

Gestating another human being.

Michael stalked the pharmacist at the local drug store. We bought more tests, all to watch them turn positive as well.

We were going to be parents.

And for many weeks, that was the only part of the equation we had figured out.

Until that hot day. That hot day I stood in the sun, in heels and a satin maternity blouse.

Because on that hot day, as I stood surveying yet another horrific crime scene, as I struggled to make my emotions bow to the demands of my professionalism, as I surveyed the cruelty of one human toward another, I just knew. I knew I didn't want my baby to have to experience those things through my eyes while I carried her.

And within a week, I had tendered my resignation.

I stayed on with the affiliate for a while longer, writing copy, producing the noon news. I stayed in the studio, giving a few news updates. I gave Michael some time to adjust to the fact that I was transitioning from Jane Pauley to Betty Crocker.

It was not an easy adjustment for him to make.

But when 1 of 8 was born, when we took her home to a little nursery decorated in little bunnies, when I could tear up over her little face and when I stopped looking at the world in three-second edits, television seemed like a small box indeed.

Because through her, the world seemed infinitely large and new.

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