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Friendship Holds Across The Aisle and In a Tough Business

WaPo editorial board member and syndicated columnist Ruth Marcus and National Review syndicated columnist Mona Charen come from different sides of the aisle, but certainly don’t let their political opinions get in the way of their friendship. And haven’t for many years.

The pair grew up in Livingston, NJ at the same time. They met in fourth grade and became best friends in high school. They’ve obviously stayed in close touch in their years in Washington.

They first appeared on C-SPAN’s Q&A in June 2006 and there they talked about both professional and personal lives.

This Sunday they’re for their second joint appearance. Brian Lamb interviewed them again about personal and professional life with clips from that June 2006 show. They talk about balancing their work with their family lives.

Tune in this Sunday, but for now here’s an excerpt:

LAMB: You wrote, and I don’t even have a date on this but you’ll recognize it, it wasn’t that long ago. “I’m in the midst of one of those periodic work-family recalibrations, balancing the needs of adolescent daughters, my husband’s busy job and my own overextended one.” Explain that, I ask you both about this period in your life.

MARCUS: Well, I always tell people who – women who are about to have children, that you’re not – life comes in chapters. And I have worked every permutation that you could imagine of – I took six months off after each of my children was born. I took a year off when my younger child was in her last year of preschool because it was going to be the last year she wasn’t in school full time…

CHAREN: So, you know, it is definitely, you know, I mean we’re sort of doing, you know, I mean there’s that old Ginger Rogers’ line, you know, where she said, “I had to do everything that Fred Astaire did except backwards and in high heels.”

Well there’s a little bit of that. I mean, you know, we’re doing everything that our male colleagues are doing except we’re also running a household and raising the kids and meeting with their teachers and taking them to the doctors and so on. And it’s harder.

Excerpt continued after the jump…

MARCUS: Well, I’m getting to him. I’m getting to him, but to be honest with you, while I do have a wonderful husband, he’s really busy. And when we’ve had those moments where it seemed to me as if something needed to give in the family, it’s tended to be – as involved as he is and as much as he is there at all the times he needs to be there and he tries very much to get home at a reasonable hour so we can all sit down for dinner together. In my experience, it’s when your kids need you and there’s two busy parents, it’s the mom who tends to give, wants to give, ends up giving and that’s what – that sort of happened at – I hadn’t actually really discussed with my boss when I wrote that sentence, that I was going to need to sort of recalibrate. And he said, “Yes, I just didn’t notice that you wrote that. And what do you need?”

LAMB: So now do you go to the office less often?

MARCUS: I spend less time, a little bit less time in the office. But my theory is that technology is the working mom’s best friend because I can sit there at the kitchen table while Julia is doing her math homework. And I can have my laptop open and I can be doing some writing and we’re all – I mean, I guess what passes together as a family in the modern age, but we’re there.

LAMB: How has your life changed in three years when it comes to work?

CHAREN: Well I feel – I mean, I should start by saying, I feel tremendously blessed with my life and my family. And I do have a wonderful husband but who’s also exceedingly busy. And, you know, in all honesty, I sometimes have male colleague envy.

You know, where I look at the people in my profession, columnists and others who have wives, who take care of the home front so that they can devote their full energy to reading and writing and responding to what’s in the news.

And I don’t think they have a clue what it’s like for us, that we, you know, have to fit in any insights that you might have on the passing political scene in between rushing this one to the pediatrician and that one to the orthodontist and attending this meeting at school and taking the dog to the vet and whatever.

I mean, you know, our lives – well, you don’t have pets, but I have four.

MARCUS: The guinea pig just died. There a lot of puppy lobbying.

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