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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

When Mommy Is Away the Kiddos Still Play: Traveling for Work

I’m on a trip for work this week.  Before kids, I used to travel all of the time for work.  Now that I am part-time, the trips have decreased a great deal, but occasionally I need to be away from home for a few nights.
When the kids were younger, the trips were hard.  Not only would I need to cover care for the days that I would normally be home, I had to figure out whether I had enough milk to be away, how I would store it while I was gone, and how I would sneak out of all day meetings to find a hidden room to pump.  Fun stuff, I know.
Now, the kids are older, but we have new struggles.  I have found that being honest and explaining the trip to the kids a few days in advance is the best tactic for preparing them for my absence.  Let’s be honest, Jillian is a Momma’s girl.  We are working on letting Daddy do more things for her, but overall, she prefers mom for everything.  It may be a phase, but thus far it has lasted…her entire life.  So, I walk through who will be with them each day and we talk about being able to talk on the phone or FaceTime.  I get extra cuddle time in before I leave and I am sure to give them their nightly kisses for each night that I will be gone.  I always wait until the last possible minute to leave and go back and kiss each of them ten extra times.  They are good sports about it.
Typically, I have not even left the driveway before I want to turn around and go back.  (This time I actually did have to go back.  Probably not a good idea to take the car seats with me all week, huh?) What if they need me?  What if they get sick?  What if something happens to them while I’m gone?  What if something happens to me while I’m gone?  The typical freak-out.  It can’t be prevented and typically is not at all rooted in common sense.  I’m a Mom though, I think I get a pass. 
The first night is always the worst… for all of us.  For me, I have the whole trip still ahead of me.  It just seems like a long time that first night.  For the kids, they are getting adjusted to me being gone.  This week, Jillian had a total freak-out the first night.  Ben was trying anything he could to calm her down.  It resulted in one of the worst things for a mom on a work trip…the dreaded sobbing phone call from your two-year old daughter.  Sobbing.  A blubbering mess.  I’m in the car with three men, driving through Toledo, Ohio…half-way to Cleveland, trying to calm down my adorable little emotional daughter sobbing in her bedroom in her pink footie pajamas.  Luckily, talking to her helped.  It doesn’t change how terrible I felt about putting her through it.  Thank goodness for Ben.  He sent me a text a few minutes later.  It read, “Well… I offered Myles a Breathe Rite (he was stuffy) and he freaked out (the kid is afraid of band-aids).  I told him it’s what you wear and when she heard that, she wanted it.  So, as of right now, it’s what’s keeping her close to her mom.”  The text included this picture. 
As bad as I felt, I laughed out loud.  Dad and Jillian had found a way to work through my absence.  She was happy (or at least not crying).  As much as I wanted to be there to sing to them, tuck them in to bed, and hug her through her tears (that probably wouldn’t have even been there had I been home), at least Ben and Jillian were bonding.  Find the positive in everything, right?  I don’t leave often, but when I do, the two of them have to be two peas in a pod.  He has to read her story, give her a bath, and do all of the things that she always prefers mom to do.  This somehow helps their relationship, right?  I think it must.  I also hope that the kids seeing me travel on occasion gives them an understanding of the work responsibilities of a working mother.  Someday, Jillian might have decisions about working outside of the home, staying home, or working part time.  Trips like this week could give her a frame of reference for how her mom tried to gain balance while working and parenting (it may be a stretch to think she will actually remember this trip when she is older, but I’m sure eventually she will have a memory of her nights with Daddy running the house).
Since this first night tear-fest, everything has been fine.   I have had wonderful, super-excited phone conversations with both kids.  I have seen them on FaceTime jumping and screaming in excitement.  They have had fun days and are happy when I talk to them.  Jillian tells me how much she misses me and loves me, but she is able to move on to tell me all about when she did today.  Tomorrow, I will get to hug them, kiss them, and make them dinner myself.  We will all glow in the euphoria of excitement of my coming home all night.  Absence makes the heart grow even fonder, right? 

5 comments:

  1. Maggie Ryan boeskoolFebruary 22, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Awww Nicole I love reading your posts and this post hits home, I know exactly how you feel I was the type of Mom you are when my kids were little and no matter how old they are I'm always worried about them. You are a wonderful Mom with 2 beautiful children & husband....miss ya!

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  2. Thanks Maggie! I remember your kids always being the center of your world. Too fun to have grand kids to add to the mix now!

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  3. Awesome, now I get the breath right strips on Tuesday. Jillian told me mommy uses those! ;0)

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  4. It is a tough juggling act work + family. Do we ever really have balance? Sometimes one wins out over the other, sometimes okay is good enough. You sure seem to have a handle on it and I enjoy reading about your journey. This time away is a good for kids and and to bond and figure out how to handle things together. Its never the way mom would do it, which makes them appreciate you all the more.

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    1. Great perspective Elaine! Thanks for reading!

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