My next two months…

I’m smart enough to know I’m not smart enough. That’s why I listen so intently to the people who have walked down the road before me. When my son was born six months ago, plenty of people said “Take the time to enjoy it because it will fly by before you know it.” I’m smart enough to follow that advice so on July first I’ll be taking a two-month leave of absence to get to know my son better.

The last year has been hectic, chaotic, exhilarating and fun. I tracked our governor as he tried to become a vice-presidential candidate, covered two national conventions, a running mate announcement in Dayton, OH (that did not include Pawlenty but an Alaska governor that I’m told prompted GOP staffers scrambling to wikipedia), a U.S. Senate race, asked questions of the two major party presidential candidates, covered the U.S. Senate race recount, helped a bit with the a legal challenge to the recount, reported on the 2009 legislative session and an announcement that Pawlenty won’t seek a third term. Pawlenty’s announcement set off speculation that he’s running for president in 2012 and made the wide-open race for governor even more wide open.

Over that time, I promised my wife that things would get quieter when the election was over. I promised her things would get quieter when the recount was over. I promised her things would get quiet when the session was over. I promised her that the GOP State Central Committee was important because I’ll get a good idea of who’s running for governor. Colleen is the most patient person I have ever met. I know she would smile and probably say “It’s your job, Tom, I understand,” if I kept making promises.

But the kicker is that it really doesn’t slow down in our business. There’s always another story to do, another person to interview or another source to have coffee with. When Owen was born, I decided to step off the roller coaster for a break.

From July first through September 8th, I’m going to try my hardest to stay away from political news. I don’t intend to blog, to tweet or to contact sources. Instead, I intend to change diapers, go on stroller rides and tell the lil’ man I love him. I also intend to read the sports page to Owen, introduce him to museums and sports and, most importantly, read “Good night, gorilla” to him.

The blog will still be active with content from MPR’s fine political team. Tim Pugmire has agreed to do the Daily Digest in my absence. He’s going to do a great job but give him a break if he misses a story or blog post. It’s extremely difficult and time consuming to do and I’m happy he’ll be doing it (instead of me) for a few months.

We have also set up a new twitter account, @mprpolitics, so you can continue to get timely tweets and political news. It will include content from Pugmire, Mike Mulcahy and others.

I know part of me will itch to get back in the game but it’s time to focus on Owen on July first.

Now if we can only get that Senate ruling before Wednesday…

  • Bill Gleason

    Great decision. As a famous philosopher once said: “A man’s got to know his limitations…”

    Congratulations on being an incredibly productive person AND having a life.

  • Atta boy, Tom! And the years do go fast; the fastest are those between issuance of the driver’s license and high school graduation. Once they get that license – you simply won’t see him. So as the song goes: teach your child(ren) well. And, do it NOW.

  • DL

    Congratulations – enjoy the break. Thanks for doing all that you do, and we’ll all be waiting to welcome you back in September.

  • Good for you Tom. We’ll miss you for a few months, you are a great reporter. But we’re happy for you and proud of you. Enjoy the time with your family.

  • Bill Prendergast

    Tom, you are a fine reporter. But are you *sure* you want to do this? How interesting can a person of your son’s age be? Congratulations to you and your wife on his birth, but perhaps you should reconsider.

    I would “keep the door open,” so far as this leave of absence is concerned. Yes, he is your child and you love him and he is probably cute as a button–but can “cute as a button” get you through an entire day the way that “breaking political news” can? I find that the whole “family/cute baby” thing gets pretty old after about a half an hour, and that you end up just staring at this inarticulate child who can do nothing but stare back–the two of you wondering what to do next.

    You will be missed on the news front here in Minnesota. But if this is your wish, I wish you good luck with it–and best of health to you and your family.

  • Eileen Smith

    Enjoy every moment. It’s the most important work you’ll ever have. See you in September.

  • Scott Wooldridge

    Great decision, and enjoy your time. Politics will be here when you get back!

  • Good! I’m tired of seeing more tweets from you than anyone else.

    Seriously: Very happy for you. Great decision.

  • Dan Israel

    A good move, Tom. I can really relate to the whole “promising my wife things will slow down soon” thing, especially in years when we’ve had a special session at the Legislature. After a while, she’s like “yeah, right.” Enjoy the time with your son. MN political junkies will miss the hell out of you for a couple months, but so what. Tell us losers to get a life, I say.

  • Good luck to you Tom. And have some quality time with your son.

  • Geri

    Good for you Tom. Enjoy your time with your son. They do indeed grow up fast, so savor these baby days!