Sherry Rehman on the time she forgot about school.
By Sherry Rehman | From the Oct. 21â€š 2011â€š issue.
Our work defines who we are, and I would be lost without an all-consuming job. I donâ€™t dwell on regrets because each experience is a learning opportunity, but I do remember one episode with particular sharpness, as it changed my life and career trajectory.
My daughter, Marvi, is the axis of my world. She was born just after I took over as editor of Herald. To juggle being a supermom and career woman, I had to set clear boundaries: I eschewed all conferences outside the country until she was in high school, one parent would drop her to school and the other would pick her up no matter what, and we would have at least one meal together every day and talk about our day. These were rules necessary to ensure I didnâ€™t miss out on the often small but poignant moments in my childâ€™s life. Otherwise itâ€™s often hard to keep track of time with the pace of work to which Iâ€™m accustomed. In my political career, my mentor and friend, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, reinforced these boundaries for both of us working mothers.
So hereâ€™s where I slipped up one day. I had come in to work one Saturday afternoon to close an election-forecast issue, and left for home for what I had thought would be Sunday lunch with the family. I realized my mistake when I asked a colleague why there was so much traffic on a holiday. She said this was school rush. I looked at my watch in horror and realized itâ€™s Monday, not Sunday, and that I was supposed to pick up my daughter at 1 p.m., and was 40 minutes late! When I saw the forlorn face of my baby sitting on the steps waiting with the stragglers, my heart just froze. My daughter was fine, of course, and has forgotten the episode. But I never will. Despite a supportive family structure around her, my daughter was too young to have her mother forget what time she needed to be picked up from school. The next day I decided I needed a less consuming job, and put in my resignation.
Herald was proactive about working women. They insisted I kick myself upstairs as executive editor and let a new editor pick up the deadline responsibilities. But my heart was in the newsroom, which worked all night. I finally left Herald after a few years when they were comfortable with my replacement. That decision changed my life. I started writing a column again, loving the freedom of not editing. Then I took two years to research and co-author with Naheed Jafri our tome on the Kashmiri shawl which was published by the U.S.-based Antique Collectorâ€™s Club. The book was my sabbatical gift to myself. After that, this force of nature, Benazir Bhutto, plunged me into mainstream politics, which I never would have come close to had I not left my first love, mainstream journalism, and forgotten Marvi at school.