I spend a lot of time in airports.
I travel weekly for work and inevitably, airport small talk leads to a discussion about travel, work, and family. Often people are surprised to hear I have children. Somehow, choosing a career involving travel isn’t viewed positively by these strangers. I’ve heard everything from “you’ll regret missing out on their childhoods” to “why would you choose to be gone so much?” I try to remember everyone is entitled to their opinions about work/family balance.
I often wonder….if I were a man, would people judge me so harshly?
I never imagined I would travel for work. I don’t even like to fly. But a few years ago, I started traveling once or twice a year and now I travel almost weekly. At first, I never thought traveling this much would work. I would miss my kids and wife too much. My house would fall apart because how could it ever run without me? After a few rocky months, we adjusted. Now, I am a working mom, who splits her time between working from home and being in another state.
The love-hate relationship I have with being a working mom is intense.
The plus side of my traveling-work life is when I am home, I am home. I get to drop the kids off at school, chaperone field trips and manage after-school activities. The drawback is when I am away on a trip, I can’t help at all. There have been heartbreaking phone calls from a sick kiddo who wants their mama and I am stuck across the country.
My family is the center of my universe. However, they aren’t the only important things. My career is high on the list of priorities too. Working allows my kids to see me as more than a mom. They see me reach for my goals, manage disappointments and put myself first. My current job, although it requires me to be away from my family, has been the greatest career opportunity I’ve had.
Traveling for work improved the dynamic of house. A little space can be a good thing.
Now that we’ve adjusted, I love traveling for work. I mean, who wouldn’t? Hotels, exciting new places, sleeping alone, eating my food while it’s warm, getting ready in the morning without settling a fight over toys, the list could go on and on. Do I have guilt about being gone? Absolutely. I go a day or two without seeing them. And sometimes, they change so much in the 48 hours I am gone.
My kids and I have set up a few different ways to stay connected. I bring them postcards from my travels which they tape to their doors. Finding the coolest postcard has become a high travel priority. I send them text messages and short videos. They enjoy seeing my hotel room or rental cars. On a recent trip to San Francisco, I sent them pictures of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. They got to learn about two landmarks that they might not otherwise have been exposed too. So even though I am not physically present, I am still there with them.
Traveling for work might not work for every family but it works for mine.
The bottom line is, I am a better mom because I work. I have a fulfilling, rewarding job that I love. When I walk in the door from the airport, everyone is waiting to share their exciting stories with me. And if I am really lucky, I might get a few hugs and kisses too.