Tonya Bina: Motherhood, journalism: True labors of love
Ryan Summerlin July 18, 2014
I was a month into my job as editor at the Sky-Hi when, having just learned I had a baby and was working full-time, someone said smugly and with a hint of judgment, “You’re really living the American dream!”
It resonated with me in an uncomfortable way.
I value the opportunities for women and work, but the dream varies among us. Not everyone who chooses to work full-time in the first year of having a baby is putting selfish career goals before family. For many, it’s about putting family first, rejecting that strong desire to stay home with child and choosing instead to help provide for family.
The “American dream” in my family — ironically because the person who made the statement was a local doctor — included medical bills we’d been struggling to pay off.
What bothered me about the statement was how simplistic it was about a very complex and difficult decision working mothers everywhere make.
Working mothers work for serious reasons — from needing to keep a job to pay bills, to the fulfillment of self in order to be a better mom at home; and non-working mothers stay at home for serious reasons as well.
Whatever the reasons, there is always sacrifice at the end of the decision.
I took the job as editor aware the timing was not ideal. But I committed.
And when I did, I found myself caring for not one, but two babies: The other being this newspaper.
Now it’s time to spend more time with my own.
Motherhood and being editor has been rewarding, exhilarating and stressful all in one. And exhausting.
I was a reporter at this newspaper for a decade, so I knew what I was getting into.
In the time since I took the position, we’ve covered a shooting investigation in Hot Sulphur Springs, a pedestrian death outside of Grand Lake on the Fourth of July, wildfires, possible breaches of open meeting laws, embezzlement at the county building department, a perceived secret fire district election, the release of the Moffat Project final EIS, our first-ever Transparency Project, and the unseating of a longtime sheriff.
On the softer side, I hope you enjoyed learning more about doing business in Grand from business owners themselves. I hope you enjoyed our weekly tributes to nonprofits. I hope you like our nod to the past each week, and I hope you enjoyed the at-times quirkier side of news, as well as countless stories and photos of life in Grand.
The transition to the new editor has been smooth. My colleague Debbie calls it “out with the old, in with the old.” My former editor and mentor Drew Munro, who was news editor before five-years editor, has chosen to return.
The community newspaper, no doubt, is in good hands under Drew, a passionate newsman who approaches every subject with common sense, a wealth of knowledge and fairness.
As I cleaned out my desk drawer yesterday, I took a long look at the contents of a folder I have. I’ve been adding to the folder consistently for most of my career. Every time someone wrote nice feedback or a thank you about something I had written, I placed it in this folder. The folder is now bulging with letters, cards, and printed emails. Through the years, when the job got tough — as any journalist would tell you it does — the kudos folder served as a reminder of why we do this work: because it touches lives.
I want to thank you the readers for your loyalty to the Sky-Hi and for keeping me in check. My past editors and mentors Patrick Brower, Harry Williamson, Autumn Phillips and Drew Munro each instilled in me a passion for journalism and belief in myself. And no editor is anything without a talented newsroom. I think readers sometimes underestimate the hard work and dedication it takes to produce a newspaper. Byron Hetzler and Hank Shell are professionals this community is fortunate to have. And thank you to all Sky-Hi contributors who make this newspaper and its publications better.
Mostly, I appreciate all of you in the community who returned my phone calls and trusted me with your stories. Please know, I always tried to treat information and your words with the utmost care.