Commentary: Welcome To Foley At Large!

By Ellen Foley Special To Channel 3000

For Christmas in 2004, my daughters gave me a T-shirt that blurted: “I?m kind of a big deal” in giant letters on a dark blue background. I wore it to the gym.

There was some tongue-and-cheek in this gift because the reference is to a buffoon-like character in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” a movie about a self-involved broadcaster who thinks he is “kind of a big deal.”

I had just landed my dream job as editor of the Wisconsin State Journal and my daughters were concerned I was getting a bit used to treatment as the queen of Madison.

Roll the tape, er, digital recorder forward six years from Christmas, 2004, and it is not mom who is the big deal anymore. She has been upstaged by the rest of the family. My husband, Tom, fought a two-year battle with a rare brain cancer and now is in remission after showing all of us how brave and strong a human can be.

Our eldest daughter, Kaitlin, has just returned from Utah at the Sundance Film Festival at which one of the bands she is associated with debuted a documentary about young Pakistani-American musicians’ search for identity through Muslim punk in a post-2001 America.

Our second daughter, Maura, who will soon graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will attend the London School of Economics next year to get a master’s in science in health, population and society.

I resigned about 16 months ago from my editor job for family reasons and left behind 32 years as a newspaper journalist for a post at the engaging Madison College, our region’s innovative community and technical college.

Who is the big deal now? Mom, not so much.

In the past year, humility gave rise to opportunity. I am once again able to anonymously observe human nature as I had in my 20s and 30s when I first became a news reporter. I have had the occasion in the past 16 months to share potables with people who in my former life were called “sources.” They almost always tell me the back story on some issue that the journalists under my care had missed. They say, “I couldn?t say this in front of you in your former job.” And then we laugh. They may not realize that I laugh out of irony that in my new role as mother, caregiver and college administrator, I now know our community in a much deeper and richer way that I may have as editor.

When our friends at Channel 3000 suggested I take up some space on its Web site, I suggested we start a conversation. If it works, we should all get T-shirts that say, “We are kind of a big deal.”

I am more interested to share ideas about the new Pew Research Center report on the ?rise of wives? than to opine about world politics. We’ll leave that to Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times and David Broder of the Washington Post, who have much larger expense accounts for global travel.

We will tackle topics important to our Madison region: our quality of life, our commitment to family, our empathy for those less fortunate, our ambitions for a growing economy and our concerns about the environment.

Feel free to comment below and suggest a topic or send me a message at Welcome to Foley at Large!