When Mom Goes Away

workI’ve been away from home  a lot more than usual the last few weeks. I’ve been traveling with a client and have really cranked up the air miles, traveling to Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Charlotte and Washington, DC. The timing collided with the start of a new job for my husband, so I knew it would prove difficult for him.  It also coincided with a show I was producing, Listen to Your Mother.  But the bulk of my priorities remained at home as the primary caretaker, and I needed to plan to be away for days at a time.

Now I’m on the last leg of the tour, and I can’t say that it hasn’t been challenging for my husband. He’s been quite stoic, trying not to complain, letting me do what I have needed to do, but I know it hasn’t been easy. Yesterday morning when I called, he couldn’t find any clean underwear for my son.  For other kids, they’d probably be glad to wear dirty ones.  Not mine. My son is a neat freak and hygiene is everything to him.

As a mom, you try not to feel guilty for missing things, but it’s hard.  Last week I missed my daughter’s clarinet concert.  This trip she lost a tooth. My son graduated from cub scouts.  After I left for the 2nd or 3rd time, my daughter asked my husband why I go away so much.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the the nasty article in The Wall Street Journal on the Mommy Business Trip.  It focused primarily on conferences as a way for moms to escape their daily lives but it was antagonizing enough to make any mom feel guilty about having a balanced work/family life.

But you know what?  I don’t feel guilty for being away. Dads travel for work, and moms are no less than they are.  I do miss my kids and I will be a better mom for it it when I get home. But I won’t lie, it hasn’t been easy.  I got sick for a day on a leg of my trip and wanted to lie in bed all day.  It wore me down and I had to march on despite of feeling lousy. But even then, I checked in at home to make sure all was well.

Here are a few ways I’ve made this easier on my family while I’ve been away:

– I created a schedule for my husband and sitter so nothing would be forgotten.  Did it work?  It never all goes according to plan, but you hope for the best.

– I checked in often and spoke to my kids daily.  Last night my son couldn’t sleep and we spoke for a while. When my daughter’s tooth came out, she called me immediately to let me know.  It may be tooth #14 but it’s still exciting. I really hope that the tooth fairy came, but I can’t blame anyone if she didn’t.

– I gave the babysitter extra money for ice-cream and cabs when necessary. She doesn’t drive so I wanted to make it easy for them when they ventured far from home.  I also planned play dates and made sure their week was fun in my absence.

– I’ve let go of thinking that everything can go according to plan.  How can it when my husband works as hard as he does?  Things will slip, the house will be a mess when I get home, but knowing that everyone was safe and sound and happy is all I need.

I won’t lie – there is no perfect recipe for the success of a mom being away for days at a time.  We do our best. I know there are benefits to being away, too. Being a role model and having a career, and knowing they will one day my own daughter will enter the work force and have the same decisions to make.  That’s what I know.

And now it’s time to go home.

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  1. One thing Sheryl Sandberg was right about, and that is to choose your spouse carefully. Sounds like you did a fantastic job choosing someone who’d support your growth and dreams. Way to go. I was just away for a week, also, and boy was I happy to go home. But I was also happy to be away – and it wasn’t even all business. 😀

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