Sunday, August 14, 2011

Working Parent Travel -- Conflict, Not Guilt

I'm writing this from a 13th floor balcony, overlooking the ocean. The picture in this post is my view from that balcony.  I love the beach, and I am loving that I can sit here and listen to the surf.

I'm in Myrtle Beach for work.  I flew in today, will train a group of teachers tomorrow, and head back to Phoenix on Tuesday.  Then, I'll teach a class in Phoenix on Wednesday.  I'll hop a plane to San Antonio on Thursday, teach on Friday, and home again on Saturday.

It's a pretty busy week -- more travel than usual, but it is the busy season for one of my clients and as my husband likes to say "We should make money while we can!"  You never know when the next dry spell may hit.

I enjoy traveling. I like people-watching in airports, the long stretches to read on planes, the hotel room all to myself at night. I also enjoy training and consider myself fortunate that I am able to travel thanks to my skills as a trainer.

When I mention that I travel for work to other women, I usually receive comments such as "Oh, I could never do that!  My kids need me at home." or sometimes a wistful "I wish I could go . . . " (but they admit they wouldn't make the choices in life to make that happen) They often don't think they could possibly leave their husband in charge of the kids.

I am not the only one in our family who can care for our kids.  I may be the one who keeps the best track of their schedules, but my husband is perfectly capable and willing to do whatever is necessary to take care of our children. This week, he will learn how to put our 4yo's hair in a bun as she starts a new dance school that requires girls' hair to be in a bun. He will make lunches and get the kids off to school and feed them breakfast and dinner and make sure the boys do their homework.  He will take Lydia to dance and Nate to soccer and Colin to journalism camp.  He'll take them all to a school-sponsored swim party this week. All the same things I do when he travels -- and all the same things we both do when we are both in town.  When I get home, they'll all be just fine and the house won't be trashed and he will have cooked healthy meals.

I know I've written about it before, but I am always amazed when I read about the herculean efforts some moms go through in order to go out of town for a couple days.  They freeze meals and make long lists and make all the driving arrangements.  Me?  I pack my clothes and make sure I have all the computers, chargers, files, etc. that I need.  I double check my travel arrangements.  I make sure that our family calendar is synced so Bo knows what the kids have planned. And, then I go.

Do I miss them?  Of course!  I'm grateful for technology like FaceTime that allows me to see everyone when I'm miles and miles away.  I love sending text messages to my boys to keep up with how their days went.  Coming home is always a sweet reunion.

Do I worry?  Yes!  But I worry when I'm home, too -- that's just my nature.  The big question, though -- is am I guilty?  I read a quote by Sarah Jessica Parker today that said she's not guilty, but she is conflicted sometimes.  Just like her, I have made the choice to work.  I think it's a good choice for my family.  There are many advantages to it, but of course there are also conflicts.  I am conflicted, though -- not guilty.  Conflicted because I wish I could be an awesome mom present all the time, but at the same time I want to be an awesome trainer that gives that my all.  I work hard at balancing my life, and most days I do a fairly good job of it.

I won't feel guilty because I really like the opportunity to be alone with myself for a couple days. I am able to  do something that I enjoy and that I'm good at.  And I get paid for it!  (pretty well, most of the time)

I couldn't do it without my husband.  He makes it all possible -- because he supports me in all that I want to do and all that I do. I'm grateful and lucky and really enjoying the beach today!  And I won't feel guilty about that!


  1. Good for you! I read a lot of blogs that talk a lot about women staying home and not working. And I think that is a decision that each of us must make. I too have made the decision to be a working mom. I work full-time about 30 miles from home. I think I am a very good mom, and I give my kids 110%. My working has allowed us to have and do much more than we could have done if I had stayed home. It will allow us to have a comfortable retirement, and will allow us to help our kids if they need it one day (I did NOT say SUPPORT, I said HELP!). I truly enjoy working, and don't think that because I didn't spend every waking minute with my children before they started school, that they are scarred for life. Working outside the home is a decision every parent must make. I don't think there is a right or a wrong, but I sure have felt like some blogs really try to shame us moms who work. My kids are 15 and 18 and I think they have turned out AWESOME! I am very proud of them. So thanks for your honest post. (P.S. I am going out of town for a WEEK on a trip with my sisters in a couple of weeks . . and I won't be freezing any meals. My husband is completely capable of feeding my kids while I'm gone :)!!!!

  2. Thank you! I almost didn't post this last night, but then I did -- and I'm glad! At my training class today, one man said "Oh, you must not be married or have kids since you travel" and I replied "I have a husband and 3 kids! He supports me just as I support him." I know your kids are AWESOME!

  3. Anonymous7:28 PM

    I think the way you and your husband balance things and the fact that your boys had the huge advantage of some homeschooling before you went back to work are all good things for your kids to see. The boys will know that they can work and pitch in as a full partner at home. Your daughter will know that she can pursue any career she desires and that if she picks the right husband she can have kids too. Cheers to you all!

  4. And that Melanie, is why I never stop looking up to you. It IS possible to be a great mom and have a career at the same time, challenging at times, frustrating at times, but with the right mindset and support definitely !


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