Reporter's Notebook: Journalist moms make it work
Jurors are not the only ones making motherly arrangements during George Zimmerman trial
I have a confession: I love my job.
Here's another one: I love my daughter.
Sometimes those two facts can come into conflict when the profession you enjoy takes you away from the little one you adore.
While in Sanford for gavel to gavel coverage of The George Zimmerman trial I sneak in iPhone Face Time chats with my toddler, the technology giving me a live window into her wonderful world of park play, nursery rhyme sing along songs and bursts of unbridled laughter.
I thought that was pretty clever, until I met Barbara Garcia-Schmitt. She shared this family picture above with us. The network coordinating producer for ABC News finding an innovative solution to the work-life balance conundrum by bringing her baby to the coverage.
Barbara's back story is about as cool as it gets. She met her husband while covering the BP oil spill. Joshua Schmitt's company, Saltgrass Marine Services, supplies oil companies with clean up boats. Falling in love is great, but this romance involved logistics. Barbara was based in New York and Schmitt's family-run company is headquartered in Gulfport, MS. Barbara decided to follow her heart and ABC News was gracious enough to support her move to Gulfport.
Then Harper came along, Joshua and Barbara's beautiful baby girl and that's what brings us back to Sanford. The two of us chatting at day's end in the courthouse's "media village" area; talking tips on how to soothe overnight teething pain when I learned about her unusual, inspirational and innovative situation. Her husband and Harper have temporarily moved to Sanford so she doesn't miss a moment--be it a moment of trial or with her daughter.
My first reaction? Nab a brief cell phone interview to share her story with you. It takes a mix of courage and tenacity to boldly pursue one's vision of happiness. That she's pulled it off with such grace I thought was as much a testament to her character as it was perhaps a signal of shifting societal standards. Here's a transcript of our conversation:
Christina: You find out you get this assignment, you are a new mom of a 10-month-old beautiful baby girl and what's the first thing that went through your mind?
Barbara: The first thing that came through my mind is not how am I going to cover this story but how am I going to cover this story with my daughter? I flew back and forth several times over the last 6-months to meet with the court, to meet with the local media here as we established ourselves here and on one of the trips I Googled 'day cares' and there happens to be a day care center right next door to the hotel. So every morning I wake up, I drop her off at day care and come here to work. I'm mom, I'm mom I'm in the morning and I'm professional Barbara here.
Christina: There are so many working women that I don't think would have even thought of that, what made you think to do that?
Barbara: There's no way I could be away, I've been here almost four weeks, there's no way I could be away from my daughter for that long, I can't even be away from her for four hours, that's hard enough. It's just easy and it's not in your face, it's very subtle and it's not a problem because my husband is here as well.
Christina: When I first heard you say that I was thinking about how much it has changed for working moms. You and I, in this generation I think, there's a better understanding of life balance or a better appreciation for that?
Barbara: 100 percent and I'm fortunate enough to work for the best bosses in America because I went to the them years ago and said I need a better work life balance and they rolled out the red carpet and let me establish myself in a way that I can contribute to them and have my life and this is a perfect example of doing just that.
Christina: Back in the day it was powerful pant suits and you never talk about anything that's family because there was such a, we were just breaking into markets, what does it speak to in terms of how much we've advanced maybe as women in the workplace?
Barbara: I think it is also more accepted amongst our male colleagues. I mean me ducking away to pump for ten minutes isn't a big deal I'm just like 'guys I need some privacy' they know what I am doing in there. I think that the culture and the media has evolved. I mean we've seen examples of television working moms beginning with Murphy Brown who was like the mother of all mothers for a professional like you. We are lucky that we have had role models along the way who have allowed us to be ourselves.