When I was a young girl my mother would sit by my bedside every night, and after saying prayers she would tell me, “Gretchen, you can be anything you want to be.” Those words inspired me to achieve, yet I also knew from an early age that I always wanted to be a Mom. I grew up believing I could do them both--the so-called “having it all”—a successful career and a family.
When I gave birth to my first child, Kaia, I had a demanding job at CBS News. I still believed I could do both roles because I was an incredibly organized person and I had a supportive husband. And then life threw me a curve.
Toward the end of my maternity leave, Kaia was diagnosed with infantile hemangioma, a benign but terrifying growth near her eye that required aggressive treatment. Suddenly everything changed. The next year was a breakneck routine of going to work and then racing Kaia to doctors’ appointments in between.
For me the question about having it all is a phony concept. In life we make choices and try to achieve balance. That’s true for every woman I know, whether she works full-time in the home or outside of the home.
I guess that’s when I discovered one big secret of having it all—that it helps to have an involved spouse. My husband Casey and I were a team, and he was a rock. During the weekends when I was doing the CBS Morning Show, he took over and I never had to worry. Thanks to Casey, we got through Kaia’s crisis, and I actually flourished in those years at CBS because of his support.
That teamwork is essential, but let’s be real. In most families the bulk of parental responsibility falls on women. I’m always hearing mothers complain about that. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that some of it is our fault. We try to control things and can get critical when our husbands don’t measure up to whatever standards we create. So if we want equality in parenting, we have to give up control and let Dads be Dads. I’m a reformed perfectionist, so I’ve had to work on that one. But it’s wonderful to see Casey with the kids, even if he might not care as much how they’re dressed or what they eat on a given day.
Today my life is busier than ever, with two children who have very full schedules.
Weekends are crazy—between sporting events and church and a long list of chores. I figured out long ago that there’s no point in feeling guilty if I can’t do it all.
I do what I can, and when work prevents me from being at one of my kid’s events, I am comforted by the knowledge that they are getting the benefit of having a strong, professional Mom as their role model.
I want to pass on to my children a living example of what it means to follow your dreams and be a fulfilled human being. I’ve always said that being a Mom was my most important role, but it’s not my only role.
For me the question about having it all is a phony concept. In life we make choices and try to achieve balance.
That’s true for every woman I know, whether she works full-time in the home or outside of the home.
We have families, we have careers, we have church and community involvements. We’re busy!
The way I deal with it is to give 100 percent in the moment. When I’m doing my show on Fox News, I’m 100 percent present. When I’m with my family, I give 100 percent to them. I don’t fool myself that I’m a Super Woman. I just try to be myself.
I hope that someday when they’re grown, my children will look back and say that I was a person who embraced all facets of life and gave them an example of what they too could achieve.
By the way, even though I was lucky to have my Mom at home when I was growing up, she is a shining example today of career achievement. At seventy-four she works full-time running the family business and supervising more than one hundred employees. Through her incredible life, Mom has provided me with a model of a woman having it all.