It's working for Jane Black, Journalist
Motherhood was definitely my biggest challenge! It changed everything. My relationship with my work, with my husband, with myself. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland, where nothing was as it had once been or was supposed to be.
The person you were won’t disappear forever. She’ll be back, just different and stronger.
We love, love, love New York. But with a young child, we found that we couldn’t do the things we loved or wanted to do. We didn’t know if it was like hazing–and soon we’d graduate–or whether it would always be staying home a lot in a too-small apartment overrun with toys. We also had a lot of family in DC and by the time our daughter was 3-½ we decided more space, more family, less schlep was important. And we were right. Life here is so much easier and we have so much more support. What do we miss about New York? The food!
It is what I imagined–and what I fought for. As a journalist, especially as a freelance journalist, you are expected to have a niche. And food was, for many, too broad: Is your beat nutrition? Or recipes? Or agriculture? Or tech? For me, the most interesting stories come at the intersection of those boundaries: can tech really improve nutrition? How does the short-term VC mindset affect sustainable agriculture? I find stories that cross boundaries to be the most rewarding and enlightening, and the variety keeps me engaged.
I became a freelancer by accident. I was a very satisfied staff writer at the Washington Post, but my future husband was in New York and that’s where we wanted to be. The paper wouldn’t let me work remotely. (How ironic since we ended up moving back to DC!)
Still, going freelance forced me to stretch my wings a bit–try to do more than my beloved beat and news feature reporting and move into longer form. I’ve written 7,000 word stories on school lunch, Google experiment to help its workers eat more vegetables and more. It also taught me discipline, about what to work on and when to work (and when not to.) With a job, someone else is telling you when to turn on and off. Learning to push on stories that matter to me, and walking away when they didn’t, was the most valuable lesson I’ve learned. As a mom, you know you have to protect your time and yourself.
I love print but I was feeling constrained by the format. I wanted something where I could be more conversational, and frankly a place where I could weigh in as an expert rather than having to attribute every fact to someone else. I was intrigued by the intimacy of radio and podcasting.
I was introduced to Liz Dunn through my editor at the Wall Street Journal. She kept saying how much we had in common and, it turns out, we do. We’re both moms, food lovers, and never content with the “easy” story. We “cooked” up Pressure Cooker as a way to answer the questions all of our friends answer all the time–and to try to show how feeding kids isn’t really only about food. It’s about cultural pressures, geography, socioeconomics. It’s a really rich and tangled story to unravel.
It was! Liz and I were already at work on it when I heard that José was launching his media company. I reached out to talk to them about what they were working on and they agreed to produce Pressure Cooker. I’m also executive producing José’s new (amazing) podcast, Longer Tables with José Andrés.
I think the tagline of Pressure Cooker answers this question perfectly. It is: When did feeding kids become so complicated? And why do we so often feel like we’re failing at it?
It’s crazy right. Feeding kids is one of our most basic responsibilities and yet it’s so confusing and exhausting. We’re never sure we’re doing it “right” and we worry that if we don’t do it right, it will have all kinds of consequences. We want to show people where all that angst comes from and why so much of it is … overblown. I think there’s an appetite for that!
I’m pretty religious about doing yoga. I do it every other day for both body and mind. And I was already practicing at home during the pandemic so I didn’t have to make any changes to that routine, which was a relief.
The pandemic was hard for everyone but I always joke that my life was as about as pandemic ready as it could have been. My husband and I both worked at home already and were used to being together all the time. We cooked most of our meals…so not going out to dinner wasn’t a big change either. But like everyone I realized I was much more social than I thought I was. I missed my friends. I missed traveling and seeing new things. (I especially missed reporting; it’s just not the same over the phone or zoom.) If anything, the pandemic taught me not to put things off. Whether that’s a trip or just walking away from my computer to be with my daughter.
Motherhood was definitely my biggest challenge! It changed everything. My relationship with my work, with my husband, with myself. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland, where nothing was as it had once been or was supposed to be. I think I tried much too hard to get back to “normal,” to conquer this new life, rather than understanding that the change was the thing and allowing myself to ease into it.
See above. The change is the thing. Allow yourself to ease into it and don’t judge.
My husband. I challenge anyone to find a partnership as equal as ours. By pulling his weight, he has made sure that I can be a mom and have a career I’m proud of.
My mentor is my husband, Brent. He is a model journalist (and my free editor) and a model of how to live life. I try to mentor my daughter, Lucy.