A Reality Check On Balancing Work/Life

By Alicia Ybarbo

Life as a TV producer for the number-one morning television show has many upsides.  It’s a wildly creative job with extremely creative people.  I love it!  My career is like taking a continuing education course, because in the course of one week I can go from writing segments about the dangers of concussions in football to Martha Stewart making five healthy weeknight meals to celebrating the birthday of Nadya Suleman’s (remember the Octomom?) eight children.  The thought of jumping from one segment to the next really keeps me on my toes.

This week I’m part of a team that produces breaking news segments, so we can have them ready for the next morning’s show.  It requires me to be in the office later in the day, often working till the wee hours of the morning.  Since it’s basically the overnight shift I don’t get the chance to see my children before they’re off to school in the morning, but I am sometimes lucky enough to spend some time with them when they get home from school.

When my son came home from school yesterday I jumped at the chance to help him with his homework before I left for work.  Instead of it being the wonderfully blissful moment between mom and son over his 1st grade readers, it turned into pure frustration over his passiveness to read right after getting home from school. (Can you blame the kid?  He’s hungry.  He wants to see his toys and hang out.)  I left the house a little bruised that my picture perfect moment didn’t happen.

Later that evening I called home before bedtime to apologize to my son.  I told him I was sorry for getting upset before I left.  He apologized in return for being tired and not wanting to read to me.  It was the sweet mom/child connection that I was looking for.  I totally felt that hug over the phone lines.  Then he directed a question to me.  “Mommy,” he said, “What is your real job?”

“My real job?  I’m a television producer, sweetie.  You know where I work.”  “Oh,” he said, “I thought your real job was being a mommy?”

My first reaction was that of “ouch.”  Those words hurt… and not being home to give my munchkin a squeeze before bed felt like salt on an open wound.  When I shared with my husband and girlfriend what happened, they both had unique, positive perspectives.  My girlfriend felt that “kids can teach us a thing or two,” and that I am a mom first, and career woman second.  My husband said it was a very mature question and quite funny.

Sometimes, even during those tough work weeks, it takes a moment like this to be reminded of my real job as mommy-in-chief.  I love being a career woman, but I realized that a work/life reality check is needed every once in a while.  Leave it to my six-year-old son to deliver it to me.