Becky Beaupre Gillespie
I had always planned to be a newspaper reporter. Even as a child, I was focused on this goal — writing for my school newspapers and, as a teen, earning regular paychecks freelancing for my local weekly. I even once convinced my high school physics teacher to let me ditch class to cover a protest rally. It was an easy sell: Everyone around me knew that journalism was the only thing I’d ever wanted to do. A year later, I was a freshman at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.
When I was pregnant with my oldest of two daughters, I was working on an investigative series on “Failing Teachers” for the Chicago Sun-Times. It came out the week after I gave birth. I thought I had everything: a perfect job, a perfect new family. I was so happy. But, when I went back to work part time after a long maternity leave, everything fell apart. I couldn’t bury myself in big projects working only two days a week. But despite my limited time in the office, I was always missing things at home, too. I was crushed the day my baby took her first steps while I was in the newsroom, filling in for an assistant city editor. I felt like I was failing at work and at home. Unable to find a better solution, I quit my job.
Five years and another daughter later, I was ready to reinvent myself. But how? I’d never once considered a career outside newspapers. All those years of determination, hard work and education had seemingly prepared me for only one thing. I was convinced that I didn’t know how to do anything except be a reporter. Impulsively, I decided to shake things up by pursuing something completely outside my comfort zone: I launched a small network marketing business selling skin care products. It wasn’t my passion, but it did get me thinking — and talking to other people in my network. I reconnected with an old journalism school classmate, Hollee Schwartz Temple. She was a mom who had left a prestigious law firm so she could teach law school and spend more time with her two sons. We were both reeling from the shock that motherhood had changed the big dreams we’d always nurtured.
We decided to write a book. We conducted a nationwide survey of nearly 1,000 working moms; my background in investigative data analysis came in handy here. We read every study and book we could find and spent hours interviewing more than 100 working moms and experts. We launched a blog and began writing a column on work/life balance for the ABA Journal, a national lawyer’s magazine. We landed an agent and then a book deal. Along the way, we worked our networks and built an ever-growing expertise. We hit various roadblocks along the way, but pushed each other to keep going. Our work was fueled by passion and sheer determination. It taught me that it is crucial to pursue work that we love.
By the time Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood was published in April 2011, I’d built a whole new, non-newspaper career simply by taking one small step after another. On Mother’s Day 2011, as Hollee and I were sitting in the Green Room at 30 Rockefeller Center preparing for an appearance on MSNBC Live, we looked back at how far we’d come since admitting to each other that we felt “stuck.” We’d created new dreams and new paths — and we were loving every second.
Now, I have a business speaking to companies, conferences and groups about work/life issues, perfectionism and motherhood. I’m starting a second book, and I write regularly for the ABA Journal and Crain’s Chicago Business. Most important, I am able to weave all of it around motherhood.
Turns out, there was more to me than being a newspaper reporter. Who knew?
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