LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - One of the greatest privileges of sharing the news with you each day is that we also get to share our lives with you - as you invite us into your homes each morning.
It is truly an honor and one that I've cherished for 10 years with you here at KPLC and for the past year on Fox29. That's what is making this announcement that I will be stepping away from this job especially emotional to share.
There is a popular quote, "The days are long, but the years are short."
That is something I see every single day.
People always tell me, "They grow up so fast," and you can roll your eyes because you hear it all the time, but it is so true. Time is everything.
My husband, Matt, and I have three kids - stair steps! We have a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old.
Lila Rose is three, James is two, and Adeline is one.
Their personalities are all extremely different!
Lila Rose was a dream baby - so easy that Matt and I started talking about adoption while she was still a baby. We thought this parenting thing was such a piece of cake...like, we've got this, haha, and we always knew we wanted to adopt one day.
When we found out about our son, we started pursuing his adoption. We knew he had some special medical needs because of some issues before he was born and then with his first year in foster care.
We did not know the extent of what those needs would be until he came to our home and we started evaluating it ourselves.
In the midst of all that, we had our bonus baby, Adeline.
So in the course of 20 months, we had three children, all in diapers, and one of them with special medical needs that intensified as the months progressed.
In order for us to maximize our time as a family, it means making sacrifices in other areas. For years for me, that's just trickled down to not sleeping!
When I was 16, I did my first story at KPLC. It was a Teen Report and it was pretty awful. I have hidden that tape and I've actually hidden it so well that I cannot find it!
That was 18 years ago and I would say I've had a lot more stories that I'm a lot more proud of since then.
But when I was 16 and I got that first taste of what it was like to be in a television newsroom and the rush of news and connecting with the community, I knew that it was something that I wanted to do as a career.
Fast forward to present day and my alarm goes off at 2:30 every morning. I go straight to the coffee pot, make myself a cup of coffee, and quietly get ready in the dark house.
I'm out the door by 3:15 in the morning, I'm at work at 3:30.
Our morning crew is fantastic. We have a no complaint zone, so you can't come in and say, "I'm so tired." Join the club!
Before the newscasts start at 4:30 A.M., I'm going through scripts, reading stories, listening to any kind of overnight developments, helping to shape our newscasts.
7News Sunrise is from 4:30-7:00 in the morning. It's high energy, a lot is happening in the morning. Throughout the show, I am working with our producers and anchors/reporter. In commercial breaks, I'm FaceTiming with Matt when I think the kids might be awake, because I still want to have a presence in their morning routine.
Our company started a second morning show last year that goes from 7:00-9:00 A.M. on Fox29 and that has meant a total of four plus hours of TV every morning.
After that marathon ends, it's morning meetings to see what content we're going to work on for the rest of the day and phone calls to books guests for the next day.
Once all of that ends, it's around lunch time, and while it seems like there is a lot of day left - there is - but I still haven't touched or seen my kids in person since the day before.
It is a race for me to go get the girls from daycare and James from his therapeutic program, then home to enjoy as much time together as we can before the 7:30 bedtimes roll around.
Believe it or not, I spend more waking hours with John Bridges and Ben Terry than I do my own husband. We know each other very well! We have a whole series of inside jokes that we know can make each person laugh until we cry.
It's a special relationship. I had them at my wedding. They were in the delivery room within hours of me having each child. When we adopted James, they were the first to say congratulations.
It's not just a work family. It bleeds over to everything else.
Ben is now actually at every family reunion of mine now...we actually call him "Cousin Ben."
It's neat to see how those connections can become something with so much depth and something that will be permanent.
John and Ben have been nothing but supportive when I started expressing "I just don't know how much longer I can do this."
They would see me in commercial breaks in the moments of crisis when I'm FaceTiming with Matt and a kid is crying and saying, "I want you, Mommy," or one of the kids has fever and I felt like I needed to be home.
They have seen all of that transpire live in real-time and particularly John would turn and just say, "You know where you need to be."
I know John was never encouraging me to give up on a dream or career that I'm passionate about, but to be the best version of yourself, I think you do have to recognize, "What do you truly want to prioritize?" John could see that change in my heart happen over the course of several months.
Matt knew what he was getting into when we first started dating. He's a former news anchor and reporter and moved into the public relations field.
When we started dating, we were both working in Waco, Texas, and for our first real date I was a couple of hours late due to breaking news. Matt gave me another chance, because that's just something that comes with working in this business.
As it's translated into our marriage and now having kids, any time there's severe weather and school is canceled, that just means we work longer hours.
If there's an evacuation, again that just means we're at work for longer hours.
Because of this, Matt is constantly picking up the slack.
"I think we're in a very impressionable time in our kids' lives and they ask for their mom in the morning," Matt explained.
"I try not to divulge that all the time to Britney because she's at work, but they miss her and we all miss her here and it's always nice to have another pair of hands, for sure. I'm looking forward to more time as a family. Right now, we have to do that very intentionally on the weekends - finding stuff to do together, finding fun things to do. To have more opportunities to do that is going to be what's best."
It's been a lot for Matt, but he's been 100 percent supportive because this has been a career dream for me and something that he believes in. It's just a season of life now where it's not sustainable for the type of family life we want to have.
Stepping away from this job is extremely bittersweet. It was an extremely tough decision and it's still a tough decision for me, but I know I'm doing what's right for my family. It's time that I can't get back.
I've been able to swing the sleep deprivation and the crazy hours for the past few years, because the kids have been so young. But now, they're at a point where they recognize when I'm not at home.
They can communicate now that mommy's gone. There are often tears at night because they want me to read them just one more book, stay up for five more minutes, sing them one more song, but it's something that I just can't always do because I have to get to sleep at an early, early time.
I don't want their memories in childhood to be shaped by my absence at important times.
This community, you, have been family to me for all of these years.
You've been there as my family's changed, you've been there as my life has changed. You've been so supportive to me and all I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart.
This is not a goodbye. I'll still be around and I'm thrilled that I be able to continue contributing to KPLC/Fox29 through special projects like "The New Family Tree," which has been a passion project of mine to connect children in foster care with permanent families.
Our paths will cross again and I look forward to those days!
Thank you, Southwest Louisiana.