Women have long been told that they can ‘have it all’ and ‘do it all’ – meaning a successful career, a nurturing relationship, a thriving family, a fulfilled life. But is that actually possible? Dr. Laura Schlessinger, bestselling author and host of The Dr. Laura Program on SiriusXM, says not so fast.
On Friday’s show, Megyn opened up about her own experience trying to devote equal attention to her career and marriage and parenting, and how, in time, she realized it wasn’t working out as she expected. She and Dr. Laura discussed why it is so important to be present in your children’s lives and why that might mean dialing it back in other areas.
Megyn’s Experience Trying to ‘Do It All’
“I was one of those women who was sold a bill of goods by my generation and led to believe you can do it all,” Megyn said. As she explained, she had a “thriving career” that included a new primetime show, The Kelly File, on Fox News. She had two kids at home and another on the way and knew that the schedule was “going to be very disruptive.” Even so, “I took it because I was ambitious,” she recalled. “It was a big raise, it was more power, and I lasted three years before I said, ‘Holy – what am I doing?'”
As someone who had listened to and read Dr. Laura’s work for some time, Megyn was aware of her parenting philosophy. “You had a gift early on in your life of just understanding you have to be there if you have children,” she said to Dr. Laura. “You have to raise them. You owe that to them. Don’t bother having them unless you’re prepared to do it.”
Megyn admitted that she feels “a little bad now” because she finds herself in a better position than many to take a step back from her career and focus on her family. “I’ve made my money, and now I’ve sort of established a name, I can make other choices to be with them more,” she said. “I don’t want to look at the women out there who are single moms working so hard and say, ‘You, too, must do that,’ but I’ve heard you and I’ve read enough of your books to know you do say – even to those moms – there are solutions that can get you more time with your kids.” Yes, “even you working the double job with a deadbeat dad,” she added.
Finding a Way
To this point, Dr. Laura shared a story of a woman in her late-twenties who came to one of her events. She had a baby, the father was out of the picture, and she got incensed when Dr. Laura suggested that she spend as much time with her child as possible. “I said, ‘It’s just not good for your kid not to be loved all day – find a way,'” she recalled.
The woman stormed out of the room, but she took the advice to heart. “I got a letter from her about six months ago,” Dr. Laura said. “When she finished being angry, she realized it was because she was being defensive.” The woman wrote to tell her she came up with a solution that allowed her to earn a living while caring for her child. “In the Valley, there are a million tall businesses with lots of offices. She made cupcakes and doughnuts and stuff like that and brought her kid with her everywhere,” Dr. Laura explained. “So, the baby was with her all day, and she made good money doing that.”
The moral of the story: “She found a way,” Dr. Laura said.
The Importance of Child Rearing
In Dr. Laura’s opinion, good things happen “when people are willing to realize that their babies need them.” And it’s not just during the newborn phase. “Their brains are still forming for the first five years,” she said. “Do you want their brains to make connections about love, and safety, and contentment, and enthusiasm, and everything else with somebody else, with hired help?”
Megyn admitted that it took experiencing this first hand to truly believe it. “In my case, I had to live it and learn it for myself,” she said. “I had believed the narrative that I could do it all, that I could staff it up.” Even though Megyn’s husband was a writer who was able to be home with their children, she eventually came to realize that she needed to be there, too. “My children did have a parent as a primary caregiver while I was at work, but it wasn’t good enough for me,” she explained. “I knew they needed their mom. I also needed them.”
While not everyone knew where she was coming from, she knew she had to make a change. “I remember somebody saying, ‘But you’re in such a powerful position. Why would you ever leave,'” Megyn recalled. “And I just kind of laughed. If you don’t understand, I can’t explain it to you. I’m not going to miss their childhoods.”
How Dr. Laura Balanced Work and Motherhood
Dr. Laura built and maintained her successful radio career and wrote her bestselling books while raising her son. To make sure she was fully present for both, her work schedule revolved around her son’s schedule. “I would work at night on radio,” she explained. “He didn’t even know I worked.”
At one point, she thought she might even have to turn down a promotion. “I heard a rumor that I was going to be put in ‘drive time,’ which in radio is considered the big deal,” she shared. “I went home and cried because I knew if they offered me that, I’d have to say no because that means I would not be picking my kid up from school, and then I wouldn’t be there for dinner, and I wouldn’t be there to put him to sleep.” Fortunately, that job offer didn’t come. “They never offered me the job, but I wouldn’t have taken it,” she said. “I stayed mid-day, and drove him to school and picked him up.”
As broadcast continued to evolve, Dr. Laura eventually ended up on satellite radio. “I heard that they were starting to do something on what they call ‘satellite,’ where you got to pee now and then, but you sat in a room all day and took interviews off the satellite,” she quipped. “So, I did that when he was at school, and he didn’t even know his mother was working. Most of the time he was growing up he had no clue who his mother was.”
When Megyn inquired as to how Dr. Laura knew this was the right decision, she said it simply always seemed “logical” to her. “I wanted to be there for him, nurture him, comfort him, challenge him, have fun with him,” she concluded. “It just never occurred to me to do anything but that.”
You can check out Megyn’s entire interview with Dr. Laura by tuning in to episode 250 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.