There are many women I have admired in my career. During my tenure as editor of Sunday Life magazine a decade ago, a constant source of inspiration was my feature writer Rosemarie Milsom.
Rosemarie has a son who is a couple of years older than my first born. When we worked together her son was about 11 years old. She was a Newcastle girl who commuted to Sydney each Monday morning and then back home again on Friday nights. Her partner and child remained in Newcastle for lifestyle choices. Rosemarie worked in Sydney for career opportunities.
Each afternoon I would hear her on the phone to her son as he arrived home from school. He would tell her about his day and they often discussed his homework. Sometimes they talked his teachers and sports. It must have been extremely difficult for her to hang up the phone and get on with the job. But she did. And she worked on diligently every day of the week. It wasn't ideal but she never once complained to me about her situation.
Most week days Rosemarie put in more hours than she was paid for so every now and then I urged her to leave early on a Friday so she could be home with her family for dinner. She didn't need to be asked twice and was always so grateful every time she was granted an early leave pass from work.
Remote parenting must surely be the toughest of choices for any mother or father. When my children were young I felt miserable about missing out on in-class reading, after-school pick-up and most sports carnivals. For Rosemarie that was only the tip of the iceberg. And yet she never complained. I have no doubt she endured some difficult moments privately but she was one of my most dedicated and positive staff members on the magazine. Her work belied her personal sacrifice. I was constantly amazed by her attitude and work ethic.
Rosemarie won't be aware that she helped me through my own period of juggle during that period. I was working long hours for a man who expected his team to be at the office if he was there. The issue was that, as a rule, he didn't leave to go home until late in the evening. When I felt guilty about the long hours I thought of Rosemarie and I pushed on through.
After living in two cities for most of her son's life while gaining experience and a reputation as a quality journalist at Fairfax, Rosemarie finally quit the commute and took a job at The Newcastle Herald when her son was a teenager. After so many years of sacrifice, her career had finally enabled her to have it all, in one place. And I couldn't be happier for her.
Do you know someone who has needed to parent remotely due to career opportunities? How do you think you'd cope?