We (Philip, my mom and I) just returned from a business trip back east. New Jersey, specifically. We left on Sunday, September 11 and stayed through Friday, September 16. It was the longest trip I've been on since going to Europe last summer and it was hard to say the least.
Traveling in general is hard. Not only do I have to pack everything I might need on a business trip - the clothes, shoes, stuff to make me pretty(ier), etc. - but I also have to pack everything for Philip. My suit case is large and in addition to packing that, I have a laptop bag stuffed full of work stuff, my pump bag full of bottles and pump parts, a diaper bag of toys and my purse. Oh, and the car seat, base and stroller! I roll up to the airport and people probably think we are traveling for a month and often it is just a few days. But the packing isn't the hardest part of the traveling. It is leaving home. It is leaving my first baby and my husband and my comfortable bed, my surroundings, my routine, my life. That is the hardest part.
Don't get me wrong, I like having a job and I'm not looking to quit. There are days, like everyone else has, that I wish I could live in a perfect world where I wouldn't have to work, because money wouldn't be a factor and I would have perfectly behaved children and we would play all day and dinner would magically be on the table at 6:30...ah, the American dream. But, that won't be happening any time soon, so work I do and my work involves some traveling. Last year, I started to really travel for work. It started in February and occurred almost every other week through November. It was a lot! I was lucky that I didn't have to skip a night with Natalie until she was 16 months old, but at 16 months I started being gone a lot. I missed a lot of nights and at first it was actually nice to be gone (gasp!), but it just got harder and harder as time went on. Now, every time I travel I remember all the nights I missed last year and it makes me sad. Which is why, I tote Philip along with me. I'm lucky enough that I have a mom that is willing to travel with me and that I have the means to get her where we are going. However, taking Philip and my mom doesn't ease the harder part of leaving everything else behind.
Motherhood in general is hard, then you toss in all the other decisions that you have to make as a woman and it is even harder. Working outside the house, being a stay-at-home mom, traveling, not traveling, the list can go on and on. And I find it amazing that men don't put themselves through it. Even when Phil travels for work, I know he doesn't want to go, he misses us and would rather be home; but he doesn't have this huge sense of guilt that I have when I have to go. Not only do men get to pee standing up but they don't put all this guilt onto their shoulders about raising a family. I'm not going to be able to pee standing up (without getting all wet) any time soon, but I guess I can start to work on the amount of guilt I feel for traveling...
Balancing motherhood and a career is hard - it isn't so much balancing as juggling, and I'm learning to juggle better and better each day. I recently had a conversation with a very close friend, one who I didn't call on her birthday, just sent her a text message as I was chasing kids and cleaning the house. I called her the day after to explain that I'm really not a bad friend, just a late friend. She, and here is the reason she is such a close friend, said to me, "You're doing a wonderful job, you don't need to call me on my birthday I know you were thinking of me and that is what matters." Without bursting into tears I explained to her that she has no idea how much just that simple sentence meant to me. She doesn't have kids yet, but she already understands that we as women can't put more pressure on each other. It takes a village to raise a kid? I think it takes a village to keep a mom sane while she is raising her kids.
We are all home for a few weeks and then back on the road we go...until then my suitcase is unpacked and things can get back to some level of normal around here.