Careful what you wish for – you may get it

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

Here's a little something for David Letterman

– the Top 10 ways to know you're not spending enough time at home:

10. Your birthday card is addressed to "Occupant."

9. You leave a tip on the table after your husband serves you dinner.

8. Your children have to gently remind you that their names are not "Whichever-one-you-are."

7. There's a stack of junk mail accumulating in "your" chair in the family room and the one on the bottom is a bank calendar for 2001.

6. You apologize to your oldest son for missing his T-ball game and he says he doesn't mind that, but he really wished you'd made it to one of his high school ones.

5. Your children can remember your pager number but not the color of your eyes.

4. The one your refer to at work as "the toddler" shows up at you office to introduce you to his fiancee.

3. Your pastor eagerly asks your family

to introduce you as an out of town visitor.


You have your home address programmed into Palm Pilot because you keep forgetting where you live And the number one way to know you haven't been spending enough time at home?

1.You walk through the door earlier than usual and your four-year-old scowls and says "What are you doing here?"

Okay, maybe ways 10 through 2 are a little exaggerated – but Number 1 really happened. And with that simple question, Buzz suddenly opened my eyes to many, many more questions. Do I want to spend their growing years peeking in on them after they've gone to sleep, or teaching them how to play hearts and bridge around the dining room table? Do I want to be known as "What's-her-name" or 'Mom"? (Or even "Mumsy" – the irritating but endearing name my oldest came up with). Do I want to spend my golden years trying to recall their childhood?

I've been spoiled, I confess. My kids were the only set of her grandchildren who my mother got to see on a daily basis and she was greedy for them. I was, dare I say it, ambitious, and willing to let her have those precious years while I made the climb from reporter to Lifestyles editor to editor.

When she died, the opportunity arose to climb even higher – from the editor of a weekly newspaper to a daily. Eager to leave behind my hometown and all of the grief I now associated with it, I grabbed the chance.

And loved it. Andalusia has become home now, more so than Tullahoma in many ways, because it is a home I chose, rather than one into which I was born. I've met so many terrific people, including and especially those I work with every day. The pace of the job, although somewhat overwhelming, was exhilarating.

At first. But I realized, the day Buzz asked so bluntly what I was doing in my own home, that there is another variation of the Peter principle. Remember that principle – that you will rise to your level of incompetence? I've come up with the Paul Principal – you can raise yourself too far above your own level of desire. In other words, sometimes that goal you dreamed of is not what you were expecting – and not what you really want. Paul, on the road to Damascus, had another goal and purpose in mind before he had his great revelation.

"This is where I was going – but is it where I want to be?"


Since my own revelation, I've been permitted to relinquish my position as editor – gratefully always for the opportunity I was given – and allowed to return to my two great loves – my family, and writing for the joy of writing.

I'll still keep my hand in on the editing, helping Jeffery with some pages of the paper and taking over the 'Neighbors" section, and I'm excited about that. He and I are hoping to expand it, adding more features and more stories about this wonderful town I've come to call home. To the Peter Principle and the Paul Principle, I add the Mary Principle.

Find your talent and your dreams

and grow within them, grow from them, but don't grow away from them.