TV and the Mommy Track
By Rebecca Coates Nee
November 12th, 2001
Rebecca Coates Nee shares her struggle for parenthood and
asks if you can
have kids and a career in TV too.
Ive been on the mommy track for a few years now, but
my train keeps
derailing. Like so many women in broadcasting, I put off having
everything was just right the market, the shift, not
to mention the spouse.
But my definition of "just right" kept changing
with my channels. I thought
less about how I wanted my life to look and more about my
story for the day.
After all, who has time to create a family when youre
mornings, late nights or covering hostage standoffs? Id
get around to the
family part of my life later.
Although quite a few women in broadcasting do manage to have
marriages and pregnancies, a lot of us buy into the notion
that we have
"plenty of time." So we blindly chase our dreams
without any clear idea of
how we want them to play out.
Well, heres the real picture: The odds of a woman getting
significantly at 35 and dramatically at 40. How come no one
tells you that as
theyre busy pointing to every child-bearing celebrity
Even for those women in TV who do settle on a mate before
clock runs out, motherhood is still a complicated prospect.
They have to
wonder what getting pregnant will do to their job security.
managers love a good pregnancy during ratings some
new moms find out
theyve been given the Deborah Norville maternity leave
when they come back
to find a perkier anchor in their chair.
Ive spoken with and interviewed many moms and dads
who felt forced to choose
between their parental duties and their jobs in news. No one
ever said TV
stations were family friendly employers, but so many of us
leap into the
business without fully understanding what the sacrifices might
be. Try taking
an afternoon off for a soccer game or going to that preschool
youre on a daily deadline.
One former managing editor realized it was time to leave
TV after she
attempted to simultaneously nurse her infant and put together
special on the arrest of a serial killer. Another anchor left
when she decided both her job and toddlers were being shortchanged.
Id never suggest having children, getting married or
changing careers before
you feel ready, but will you recognize "ready" when
you are? What plan do you
have for your entire life? What are the 10 things that you
want most? How are
you going to combine your career goals with your personal
goals? Start with
the end in mind and then figure out what you have to do to
get there. Dont
let unrealistic expectations of yourself and others get in
your way no
matter how old you are now.
For me, at age 41, I am finally awaiting my first and only
already been born in China. Now my husband and I just
have to go and get
her. After more than a year of document filing, fingerprinting
notarizing, Im pregnant on paper but my
due date keeps changing.
Adoption is indeed an option for those of us who worked away
If youve had a successful career in TV news and children
too, please e-mail
Numerous single, professional women are also going that route.
But if you
dont want it to be your only choice, start looking at
the Big Picture of
your entire life now.
me at Rnee@transitions.tv
and tell me how youve done it! Ill be happy to
share your strategies in a future column.