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Sen. Kay Hagan

Sen. Kay Hagan

U.S. Senator

Greensboro, NC

Sometimes, the reasons we think about leaning back are actually the reasons we should lean in.

Sometimes, the reasons we think about leaning back are actually the reasons we should lean in.

Like so many female professionals in today’s world, maintaining my work-family balance has been an ongoing effort. When my third child was two years old I left my work (and a daunting commuter’s schedule) to spend more time raising my family. As I watched my children grow, I felt the same thing all mothers feel – I wanted to do everything in my power to make their futures bright.

Ultimately, I decided that one way to do that was through seeking public, elected office.

After ten years in the North Carolina state Senate a new opportunity presented itself. I had the chance to run for the U.S. Senate. I was excited at the prospect of taking my priorities and experience from the state Senate to Washington. I was honored to be considered for a job representing my beloved home state. But to be honest, I was concerned at the prospect of spending so much time away from my family, my friends, my church and my community.

I had spent the last ten years commuting between my hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina and the state capital of Raleigh. My kids were finishing college and entering new, exciting phases in their lives, and I wanted to be a part of that. My husband’s law practice was firmly entrenched in Greensboro. He is my rock and my support system, and after three decades together we had found the balance that so many couples search for in their marriages.

My family encouraged me to run. They knew I was up for the challenge. They believed that North Carolina needed a strong, independent voice like mine. Yet I still found myself sending out a press release that said I wasn’t going to run. It’s not that I was afraid to lose. Quite the opposite. I knew I could and would win this race, but that meant time away from my family. I thought leaning back was my answer.

I was wrong. In the hours after my press release went out, I knew in my gut that I had made a mistake. I had fought hard for middle class families, students, seniors and veterans in the state Senate, and I wanted a chance to do the same thing in Washington. You don’t make a difference standing on the sidelines. With my family standing firmly by me, I decided to lean in, put my hat in the ring and never look back.

Today, I am grateful to work for North Carolinians in the U.S. Senate. I leave DC and head home to North Carolina every weekend. I have held hundreds of roundtables and listening sessions to talk about jobs, the deficit, and other challenges we face, but I have also made the time to plan my daughters’ weddings, pull weeds in my garden, and support my husband in both work and family life as he supports me. While I am working everyday to make North Carolina a better place for all of our children, I’m also working hard to try to keep the balance in my life, the importance of which I have never underestimated.

Sometimes, the reasons we think about leaning back are actually the reasons we should lean in.

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