Monday, July 28, 2014

I'm baaaaaaaaaack

Well, I've made it through my "90 day probation period" at my new job, so I guess I can officially blog about being back to work.

This year has come full circle for me.  Four days before my 30th birthday, I left my career in the TV news business, thinking I would never return.  Forty-seven days before my 31st birthday, I am back.  This past year has been a whirlwind.  I learned a lot about myself.  The things I thought I wanted in life, ended up different than I had envisioned and the things I had run away from were exactly what I needed. 

Clarification:  This blog is not a comparison between a working mother and a stay at home mom.  This is how it felt (for me) to leave the one thing in my life I had built completely on my own, my career.

Last summer I felt liberated.  I walked away from a job I felt stuck in.  I felt the company I was working for saw no future in me.  I had been working every single weekend for over two years.  I had missed out on life with family and friends, for a job that only saw me as a number...a number they were constantly trying to reduce.  Leaving WBRE wasn't a hard decision.  I was ready for more time with my family and more time for myself. I had sacrificed so much for my career, and Mike's new job offered me the chance to break free.  So I did.

The first few months were great!  I was enjoying all my time with the boys.  I was attending events I was never able to go to.  I was seeing my friends and family on a regular basis.  I had so much free time on my hands I didn't know what to do with myself.  The boys and I were doing everything I thought I wanted to do.  I felt like a housewife on Bravo (minus the millions of dollars) meeting up with my friends and having lunch dates and play dates and shopping trips.  I had time to go to the gym and I started to cook.  Gosh, I even started this blog!  Like I said, the first few months were great...then it slowly got harder and harder.

Staying home with my boys all day was exhausting.  I would rarely get out of my sweatpants.  Many days, I wouldn't even leave the house!  Getting twins ready and out the door some days was more work than it was worth.  I felt like all I did all day was yell.  I lost my cool way too often.  I missed having adult conversations.  On top of that, Mike was traveling a lot so I was home alone almost every week night.  I couldn't wait for nap time each day...and then I would countdown until bedtime at 7:30pm.  I no longer looked forward to Fridays, because everyday of the week was the same.  I feel absolutely horrible to even say/write this in black and white, but sometimes I dreaded my days with the boys.  I remember telling Mike I felt like I no longer had a purpose.  I felt terribly guilty for even saying those words, but I couldn't help it.  On top of that, I missed writing.  I missed going into work everyday.  I missed being on TV.  I missed dressing up.  I missed putting on makeup.  Sure, I'll admit it, I missed the "glamour".  I missed working hard towards something all day and having the chance to put it on display.  I missed the praise.  I missed helping people.  I missed pulling up on a scene, adrenaline pumping, and figuring out what was going on.  I missed being recognized.  I missed Shannon Murphy.

But not only did I miss all those things, my attitude was changing.  I started resenting Mike.  He would come home and tell me about a new project he was assigned or a "pat on the back" from his boss, and I was jealous.  I no longer got that anymore.  A mom rarely receives a "pat on the back" or a "promotion".  For seven years, I had put all my effort into becoming a reporter.  It's who I was.  They say a job doesn't define you, but in a lot of ways it does.  I would talk to Mike all the time about my feeling of loss.  I think he was about to lose his mind because I changed mine everyday.  He has a lot more patience than I ever will, because the conversation would always end with, "Shannon whatever you want to do, I'll support you."  I know if it was up to him, he would have chosen for me to stay home, but I think he also knew who he married.  I am forever grateful for a husband who allows his wife's career to dictate so much in life.  There are plenty of guys who would never stand for that.

My daily struggle was, as much as I missed Shannon Murphy, I still wanted to have my Cunningham life.  I wanted to have weekends off.  I wanted to tuck my boys into bed each night.  I wanted to be there in the morning to pick them up and kiss their chubby cheeks.  But I also wanted to feel whole again.  I kept thinking to myself, "Good Luck.  You'll never find a job that gives you the best of both worlds."  That's why, in my mind, I had written off the thought of getting back in the biz.  Not because I wanted to, but because I felt I had to.

But now,  I can say I am one of the few lucky ones.

Back in April, I got an offer to work for a company I had already worked for in the Poconos, but this time it was in my hometown of Lancaster.  It's a small cable station...with huge benefits.  I was hired at the News Director (I STILL can't believe it) and I also anchor our 5:30pm show.  I work...wait for it...9:30am-6pm Monday-Friday.  If you know anything about the news business you know this is few and far between.  I have every weekend off.  I have every holiday off.  I get to wake up and spend a few hours with my boys in the morning.  I get to pick them up from school everyday, feed them dinner, give them a bath and put them to bed.  I look forward to every minute I have with them.  The time I spend with them now, I'm not yelling.  We are laughing, snuggling, tickling running and usually rolling on the floor or jumping on the bed.  Yes, there are still hard times and plenty of battles, but I don't see them anymore.  Instead, I feel like a happy, crazy, mommy whose boys actually WANT to be with her.  There is no better feeling then two little boys running your way with open arms yelling "mama!" when you walk into their classroom.  They love school.  They've made friends.  Every morning I ask them if they want to go to school, they yell "Yes!" and run to the door.  I used to feel hurt that they didn't want to stay with me, yet didn't I feel the exact same way?  They are making art projects, playing with sand and Play-Doh and learning to share.  They also love their teachers...and a little girl named Emma.  They are happy.  The one and only wish of a mother.

All signs point to the boys being happy and now that I am back to work, so am I!  I'm learning everyday.  I've never been  a manger before and its not easy.  I'm being challenged.  I'm contributing financially to my family, which has always been very important to me.  I don't feel guilty anymore when I do a little (let's be honest, a lot) of shopping.  I'm helping young reporters learn the ropes and I'm making big decisions about the newscast.  I'm writing.  I'm making changes to a show and everyday watching it get better.  I have adult conversations and joke around with my co-workers. I get giddy again for my Friday, which is actually Friday!  I feel important again.  Are there bad days?  Well I can't say I've had a "bad" day yet (just give it time...I'm still on my TV high) but I know there will be days I will question my decision and that's when I will sit down and re-read this blog.

Being a mother is the most important job in the world, but everyone needs a balance.  My mom told me the money she made from working when I was little was just enough to cover my daycare expenses, but the freedom to work and have her career was priceless.  At 61, my mom still works part time.  She's been a nurse for 40 years.  I guess I'm my Mother's daughter.

P.S.  I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacccccckkkkkk!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

40 days and 40 nights....

(without facebook)

This year for lent, Mike and I decided to choose each others sacrifices.  In previous years, we had given up things that didn't really affect our lives - which obviously defeats the purpose.  (for example, while I was pregnant I said I was giving up girl, right?)  I decided Mike needed to give up coffee.  He drinks waaaayyyy too much of it.  It started out as a cup a day a few years ago and quickly grew to 5-6 cups.  No one needs 5-6 cups of anything in a day other than water.  On top of that, I despise coffee.  40 days and 40 nights of a coffee-breath free husband sounds good to me.  Mike decided I needed to give up Facebook.  Thankfully he didn't say social media.  I was still able to use Instagram and Twitter, but being home with my boys most days, Facebook was a huge outlet for me.  Mike, on the other hand, felt that I spent way too much time on my phone, and way too much time worrying about other peoples lives.  Turns out, he was right.

I've been on Facebook since the day Millersville University was granted access back in  2006 (my 10 year timeline #Facebookis10 reminded me of that).  Back then it was just for college kids.  We wrote the most random things on our friends walls and poked people ALL the time!  We didn't really write status updates, that's what instant messenger was for.  From what I remember, you couldn't post pictures, there was no "like" button and the web address was   It was a great way for me to stay in touch with all my friends who were in college at other schools.  Mike never joined Facebook.  He thought it was stupid.  If you've never had it, you'll never get it, period.

Over the years Facebook drastically changed.  That's exactly what Mark Zuckerberg wanted.  But Facebook is actually bigger than your profile online.  It changed the world and the way we think.  After backing away for over a month it became clear to me, Facebook created a "selfie" world.  Just read down your newsfeed and really think about what people are writing.  Most of the time, your "friends" are posting things about themselves, anxiously waiting to see how many "likes" they can get.  And yes, I am guilty of this.

On top of seeking attention, I think Facebook has made us an even more (if that was possible) judgmental society.  We all see pictures, or posts that we disagree with and it angers us.  It becomes a topic of conversation - about what was seen or said on Facebook.  For example, the other weekend my girlfriends and I were all together to celebrate a 30th birthday.  The topic of conversation quickly went to Facebook.  A girl we went to high school with was posting pictures of herself breastfeeding her baby.  You could totally see her entire boob in several pics.  Now, I am ALL for breastfeeding, in fact, I pumped for my twin boys for an entire year, but WHY anyone would feel the need to post that for all to see is totally beyond me.  But when I look back at the conversation, WHY were were wasting so much time talking about it?

Because Facebook is dominating our lives.

The hardest part about my sacrifice was the actual act of deactivating my account.  The finality of it.  I knew I would be back, but I knew I was going to be out of the loop with so many things for over a month.  The first few days, I can't tell you how many times I, unconsciously, grabbed my phone only to realize there was no Facebook.  I started turning to twitter, linkedin and instagram.  What was I going to do without people "liking" my pictures?  How will I get by without showing my boys off to the world and getting reassurance that they are indeed the cutest kids in the world?  No one will know all the amazing things I do with my friends!  How will I handle not knowing who got engaged, divorced, had a baby, announced a pregnancy, got a new job, posted something so absurd, that I will talk about it for hours with my friends!!!

That's when it hit me. What is WRONG with me!?  It's not Facebook.  It's ME.

Once I realized that, I felt liberated!  It felt good that no one knew what was going on with my life.  My REAL friends will tell me the highlights of their life and I will share mine with them.  I don't need to read it on social media.  I was slowly (very starting to pull away from the attention seeking, "look at me!" trait that goes hand-in-hand with Facebook.  I started brainstorming all the things written on Facebook that annoy the crap out of me - and when I think back, I was actually DOING some of them!!!  AHHHHHH!!!!

The one thing that *almost EVERYONE is guilty of, is writing posts to show off  how great your life  is.  "Look at me!"  "Look at my fabulous job and all the cool things I get to do!"  "Look at all the vacations I've gone on!"  "Look at me in a bathing suit!"  "Look at my kids!"  "Look at my new designer purse!"  "Look at the flowers my husband got me!" "Look at how much weight I've lost!" and the list goes on and on and on and on and on.  The thing is, we ALL know, nobody's life is perfect.  I remember reading this one Someecard (one thing I do actually miss about Facebook) that said "I hope one day your life is as fabulous as it looks on Facebook."  And it's so true.  Sadly, it never will be.

Others turn to Facebook when tragedy strikes.  "Please pray for my family."  "Please pray for my dog."  "My cousin is in the hospital and needs prayers."  I have seen never ending lists of reasons to pray for SO many people.  But when you break it down, its just another way to get attention, receiving pity from others.  Half the time, I don't understand why people are putting such personal experiences out into the world.  What ever happened to having private conversations with your own God?  I think people are spending more time asking for prayers, then getting down on their knees and doing it themselves.

My LEAST favorite?  Politics.  UGH!  I absolutely HATE when people get into politics on Facebook.  Hey guess what?  You're not going to change my mind and I'm not going to change yours.  DROP IT.  But so many people feel the need to battle it out in ALL CAPS to prove a point, but all you proved to me is, you're an idiot.

Seriously, how many selfies do you need to post?  We get it, you think you look hot with your head at an angle and your lips looking more like a duck than a kissy face.  TRUST ME, one selfie a week is one selfie too many.

Gosh do I hate when people write status' like "I have the best friends in the world!" or "My husband is amazing."  Hey guess what?  We ALL think we have the "best" friends in the world, that's WHY they're our friends.  And I sure hope you think your husband is great.  Why else would you decide to spend the rest of your life with him?

As we got closer to Easter, several people asked how it was going without Facebook.  Was I going to come back?  Although I would like to say I'm going to give it up for good, I know I won't.  With all the annoying things about it, there are also some great things that I miss.  I get to keep in touch with my friends and family on a daily basis.  I get to see pictures of their families, and watch their kids grow up.  I get to celebrate with others as they announce some of the biggest moments in their lives like engagements and  pregnancies.  I get to read a lot of really inspiring stories and blogs that I most likely would have never seen and some cool news stories that go viral. I get to see a lot of funny things too - like those Someecards:)  I get some good advice on things like parenting, new music to download, new stores to shop at - and also support from other mommies with twins.  But most importantly for me, it has created a timeline of my life.  A never ending, always updated diary.  I can scroll all the way back to those good old college days when Mike and I started dating, or look at pictures from the day he proposed, our fairy tale wedding, or our first house.  I can read about how I felt the day I started my first reporting job in Texas, the day my boys were born and how quickly they have grown to be little men.

That is the good in Facebook and this Lenten season has reminded me to focus on that...

...and start blocking a lot of people from my wall;)

Monday, March 3, 2014

the 717 through my eyes.

I was home for a few days last week, to visit my parents with the boys, and it got me thinking about Lancaster.  My hometown has topped many lists of "best small cities" and I'm never surprised about all the wonderful things visitors or bloggers say about it.  I will probably never live in Lancaster again, and that's totally fine with me, but it will always be home.  It's familiar.  It's where I grew up.  Gosh, I even went to college 15 minutes away.  There were days I thought I would NEVER leave (and so did my parents!)  And there were other times I couldn't get out soon enough.  Now, I feel like I don't visit enough.  

This time around was a little different for me.  I started to make a list of things in my head, around me, that meant "home".  Some may be relate-able to you, while others are just personal to me, but I figured I would write them down...hoping wherever my 717 friends are, you too, might feel a piece of home...

1.  The first thing I ALWAYS notice first, as I drive into Lancaster, is the smell.  I'm sure you all know where I'm going with this.  No matter if it's the dead of summer or winter, even with a foot of snow on the ground, I swear you can still smell the manure.  When you grow up there, you expect it.  You don't even notice it half the time...that's not the case for me anymore!

2.  While I'm on smells, two more stick out (in a good way).  Kellogg's in Landisville and Y&S Candy.  One of my dads patients works there, and I always hope they have a fresh bag of licorice in the pantry when I come home.

3. 96.9 FM 97  Always have listened to it and always will.  Enough said.

4.  Park City.  It wouldn't be home without a trip to the mall!  Wow, has that place changed!  Its SO much nicer these day and has so many new stores.  Unfortunately for me, I don't know my way around like I used to.  Express will ALWAYS be down the Bon-Ton wing and I'm still surprised to see the white tiled floors. Remember that dark, ugly brown floor?!

5.  Turkey Hill.  Sorry Wawa, Turkey Hill ice tea and ice-cream can't be if we're talking hoagies, that's a different story.

6.  WGAL.  It wouldn't be right if I didn't check in on Kim Lemon.

7.  Carlos and Charlies (sometimes replaced with El Serrano).  Some things on this list are more personal to MY visits home and this may be one.  C&C became a staple for wing night while at Millersville.  Now its a staple to get us all together, kid free for drinks.  

8.  If its not drinks at C&C, its drinks at the Stavig's, home #2 in Lancaster.  We sit at the island, in the kitchen of Julie's parents house and drink Chardonnay (or shots of Wild Turkey...Christmas Eve 2010).  We could do it for hours.  We could probably do it all night, which is usually why we are running late for a night out in the big, crazy city of Lancaster (yes, that was sarcastic.)

9.  Brickyard, Marion Court, I really need to visit these places?  I can expect to run into at least 10 people from my graduating class (and by that I mean high school AND college), an ex boyfriend (or 2), and a ton of people I REALLY don't want to talk to.  (Probably why we sit at the island and drink before we even consider going out)  Yet we always have a lot of fun and have A LOT of stories the next morning!

10.  Val's House.  The token "meet up place"  I'm there for play-dates with the kids, hangouts with the girls and pig roasts with all of Hempfield High School.

11.  Manhattan Bagel...errr Grand Central Station?  It was my first job when I turned 16 and who doesn't love a good bagel...unfortunately now I have to pay for them.

12.  Oyster Point Family Health Center.  My dad helped build one of the most successful family practice offices in Lancaster.  I use to get annoyed when all the guys I went to school with reminded me that my dad had given them their physical.  I would always say, "Don't worry, he wasn't impressed;)"  Now, I drive by it and only feel a sense of pride in my dad's accomplishments.

13.  Diners.  Whether its the Apple Tree, Lyndon Diner, Salunga Family Restaurant (no, sorry out-of-towners, us natives do not frequent Shady Maple Smorgasbord) for some reason, the diners in Lancaster are better than anywhere else and my parents are regulars.

14.  The Amish.  Most people only think of the Amish when they think of Lancaster.  Honestly, on a normal trip home I don't really see them...unless of course I head into Lancaster Central Market....

15.  Lancaster Central Market.  It's the country's oldest farmers market and if I'm not mistaking it was recently ranked as one of the best farmers markets in the world.  I don't get there as much as I should, but if I do, two things happen, I see the Amish and I eat a whoopie pie.

16.  Hot Z Pizza.  I don't even want to think about how many times I ate their cheese fries.  Funny thing is, the food isn't as good as I remember.

17.  Hempfield High School.  It's impossible to drive down Kauffman Road and miss this monstrosity. I recently went there to run around the track.  Talk about memories.

18.  Beau's Dream Dog Park.  This is a new one but a "must add" to the list.  I mean come on, one of my best friends literally 'dreamt' up the idea.

19.  The Parent's Hot Tub.  When I was younger, my friends and I would all pile in when it was snowing and take turns running around the house, jumping in and out of the hot tub.  Now all I want to do is drink a glass of wine, under the stars and relax.  Life has certainly changed.

20.  Spinach Dip.  My mom gets this amazing spinach dip at Costco.  I eat it every single time I'm home.

21.  The Barnstormers.  I haven't been to a game in years.  I believe I was in college when the ballpark opened.  I definitely want to take my boys there when they get a little older.

22.  My Bedroom.  My mom hasn't touched it since I left.  I recently cleaned a lot of junk out for her.  I found all my prom dresses, cheerleading gear, gymnastics leotards, track awards...and the list goes on.  Talk about a walk down memory lane.  I love that every time I am home, it feels like I never left. 

23.  Millersville University.  I love that Mike and I can walk around our college campus when we visit my parents.  Burrows Hall will always hold a special place in my heart...the place I met my husband.

24.  Prestige Gymnastics.  I spent 7 years there.  I am amazed at how good the girls are now and they seem younger and younger everytime...or maybe it's just that I'm older.  I NEED to go back and visit.  The boys would love it.  I'm assuming the dog food plant is still next door!?

25.  Centerville Road.  It's the main artery I travel to pretty much get to any of the places listed above.  I still can't get over how much Lancaster has grown.  The traffic on Centerville Road is enough proof for me.

As I look over my list, it's impossible to forget the wonderful childhood I had in Lancaster.  It also makes me wonder what memories I am making for my boys.  They will most likely grow up in Delaware County, the same place as my husband.  Will Sciarrino's Pizza remind them of home?  Will they go to Barnaby's when they turn 21?  Will they refer to home as Delco?  Will they despise the traffic on West Chester Pike and Township Line Road as much as I do, or will it just be second nature?  Will they look forward to Eagles Games at the Linc with their dad, and laugh at him when "da Bears" lose?  I hope I am building these feelings of "home" for my kids, because as much as "Lancaster" did for me, it was my parents that did a pretty kick-ass job.