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      We're in this Together - April parenting column from CNYCentral's Megan Coleman

      Parents know all to well the struggles of balancing work and family life.

      CNYCentral Anchor Megan Coleman is opening the channels for discussion on everything on everything related to family and children in a monthly column in Syracuse Parent Magazine.

      The April edition, which is on newsstands now, features Megan's column, "We're in this Together," which will appear monthly in the magazine. This month's column talks about the challenges many parents face. The decision to work or stay home after having children is a very personal one, and it certainly is never easy. Sometimes it is not a choice. My column focuses on the challenge to balance work and family life and how we make it all happen.

      This month's edition also features several pieces on autism awareness, including autism myths. You'll find "Meals in Minutes," traveling tips for families, child safety seat guidelines and summer camps for kids.

      The magazine is distributed throughout Onondaga County at schools, day cares, libraries, hospitals, doctors' offices and post offices.

      In this month's edition, you can also check out the Cutest Baby Contest. Central New York babies 18 months old or younger are eligible to enter. One winner will be chosen and will receive a photo shoot with photographer Raine Dufrane and will be next month's cover baby! Email a photo with the baby's name and age and the parent or guardian's name and contact info to fjadran@eaglenewsonline.com by April 8.

      Read the full text of this month's column below.

      I ended last month's column by quoting Hillary Clinton's suggestion that It Takes a Village, to raise happy, safe and confident children. Now, as a working parent, I have come to know, first hand, that she was right on target. The invisible thread that holds many families together is not just their parents, but also, the collection of people in their lives including teachers, babysitters and grandparents.

      The decision to work or stay home after having children is a very personal one, and it certainly is never easy. Sometimes it is not a choice. For those able to make the decision, it is not one they make without much thought and debate.

      I was raised by a stay-at-home mom and had always intended to follow in her footsteps, as family has always been priority number one in my life. As a result of the wonderful role model my mother represented - not to mention the ironed clothes, the home cooked meals, the endless playgroups, the plethora of enrichment classes, team sports, assistance with homework, etc. that she juggled daily - I always anticipated raising my own children in a similar way. Since I began working in broadcast journalism over a decade ago, not only has my personal world changed with marriage and children, but also, my professional sphere has undergone major shifts. It has given me the ability to stay in the workforce and be a mother to my two young children. As predicted by Dean David Rubin in his welcome speech to the incoming freshman class of 1998 at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, news would be delivered in ways we could never imagine. Upon graduation, as I began my career and that shift started to occur, I would have never imagined the opportunities it would mean for my ever-growing desire to find a balance between work and family life.

      Compliments of the ever-changing ways in which people access their news and a forward thinking employer who understood the flexibility I needed, I was able to find that perfect balance. Since my children were born, I have been given rare opportunities, including the ability to work from home, work with adjusted hours and leave on a moment's notice when my little ones need "their mommy."

      While still consumed with guilt for never feeling able to give enough of myself to either my career or my children, I simply do the best that I can. Thanks to an incredible support system, I am able to execute two jobs simultaneously.

      It Takes a Village ...It takes a neighbor next door to await the arrival of a relative or sitter so we can head into the workforce, should a child fall ill. It takes an understanding employer to know that the bottom line is our family's well-being. It takes a business owner or a supervisor to know that we are unquestionably dedicated to a job well done. It takes a spouse who understands that these are our children and our careers and our contributions. As I write today's column, I know there is an enormous sense of satisfaction that every "stay at home" mom gets from her children's growth and stability. I admire the enthusiasm with which the same book is read over and over again, knowing that their children will benefit from it. After all, I am a mom first and foremost. I admit a sense of jealousy, even yearning for that role, when blowing out my hair on a snowy day, only to kiss my kids goodbye until I will see them that evening. As for working mothers, of which I am one, we always wonder whether there was a first word said, a first song sung, a hug that was needed...yet heard or given by another in our absence. We do, however, as working women, enjoy the intellectual stimulation provided by our careers and the satisfaction of fulfilling our own personal goals.

      Whatever our situation, we forge ahead, learning lessons along the way and hoping we leave an imprint on our children and on the world. One day, we will all look back, reflect and hopefully smile, wondering how we did it all.

      Until next month...