Jessica Rowe leaves Studio 10
In an emotional address, the Network Ten stalwart shocked viewers when she announced she was leaving the morning show to spend more time with her family. Vision: Network Ten.
Little splashes of pool water force my eyes open to stare up into the soft, afternoon sunshine. These flicks of water are coming from the graceful kicks of my youngest daughter. She has been pushing me, and the giant inflatable pizza I'm lying on, around the swimming pool.
"Guess who, Mummy?" laughs my eight-year-old.
"No idea, who is this mystery mermaid taking me and my pizza on a tour?"
The pair of us talk nonsense and laugh into the lazy sky. A dragonfly with transparent wings buzzes near the water's surface.
"Remember this Jessica," whispers my heart. "You are happy, right here, right now."
Fast forward a few months, and that whisper no longer sounded gentle. It was saying, just keep going. How many sleeps until the weekend? How many weeks until our next break? What about the school holidays? How do I keep our girls happy while we juggle work? How can I make sense of my daughter's maths homework? And how long until Peter, my darling husband, and I can go on a date, just the two of us, and not be tired?
I didn't like what I was turning into. Someone sleepwalking through the days, running on adrenalin, and propping myself up with rosé on a Friday night, too weary to snuggle with anything but Netflix.
You're probably thinking, what an ungrateful and whingey woman. And you're right, because each day I was a becoming more and more of a "shouty mummy". Sure, we all have our bad days, but it seemed like more of my days were going pear-shaped. It didn't matter that my daughters raised their eyebrows and giggled, wondering what to make of my shouting
I thought the Christmas break would leave me re-energised and ready to take on another year of early starts on television. But I had to listen to my heart. Like any big decision we make, there are moments of fear.
My patient husband and longsuffering friends had listened to me going back and forth over the decision for six months but the time for talking was over. It was now time to make that choice and to listen, really listen to those moments when the beat of your heart whispers louder than the rational part of your brain.
The heartstrings that had tightly bound me to my babies were now a little looser but still being tugged by the emotional demands of their tween years and the emotionally fraught teenage years I know lie ahead.
I want to be a present mum. For me being present means being emotionally present. And my workload had been leaving me with little energy to devote to what really matters. My daughters needed me and I needed them.
When they were tiny, I loved the freedom of sneaking out to work as the sun was rising, happy that my little family was still sound asleep. Now my eldest daughter sets her alarm so she can wake up early with me and we can chat in the dark together.
We snuggled together on the couch, the morning I was announcing I was leaving Channel Ten. I told her how nervous I was about telling everyone in a few hours' time. Stroking her hair, marvelling at how lovely she is, I asked Allegra what she thought about my decision. "A billion times happier, Mummy," she said.
It is never simply a choice between career and family. Ask anyone, and family always comes first.
Depending on what stage you and your family are at, there are different pressures and you need to lean in more to your family or your career.
This move isn't old-fashioned. I'm a proud feminist and I know how lucky I am to have this choice. Besides I'm not disappearing – there are books to write, podcasts to do and other projects to keep me fulfilled.
Who knows what is ahead? But I can promise you that this crap housewife won't be putting away the laundry any time soon!