Is travel a requirement of your work? Living in regional Australia it has always been a component of mine.
This was OK (within reason) as a twenty something, however when kids came along it was a whole different ball game.
Disclaimer: I can only speak of the role of mum as interpreted by mwah here, so don’t get your knickers in a knot dads, I know you do stuff too…
As a traveling mum my work trip starts one month to six weeks out booking appointments, travel, accommodation, my beautiful mum to look after the kids, honing in on any forward events in the lives of the three kids and starting to gaze into the crystal ball of school events (who am I kidding, they haven’t even planned them this far out).
From Three weeks closer to the travel event I start stockpiling the freezer with just a few extras in the weekly shop, saving leftovers in smaller meal sized containers also for the freezer and running mental lists of what needs to be fixed, arranged or done around the house.
One week out my heart starts to thump just a little faster as I start creating contingency plans for unforeseen events involving the kids, pets or property. I stockpile school snacks, freeze enough bread to feed an army and check and double check the many, many lists. Let’s not forget there are also work tasks going on here.
Usually (I really do mean usually) during this period of time there will be an unexpected note come home from school inviting me to something I would have loved to attend but can’t because things are now locked and loaded. I usually lose several hours seething over this before I negotiate, delegate or (on occasion) cancel everything workwise and attend the event.
A few days out I start to miss the kids and simultaneously visualise my impending moments of silence and grown up time. I’m torn and that doesn’t change until I get back home (and maybe not even then).
Let’s not even speak of the crazy 48hrs leading into a trip. Just yesterday I did the week’s groceries (thank goodness for my helpful tween), cooked two dinners, tidied the pantry, sorted all of the washing, organised and re-organised my diary, juggled the usual drop offs and pick ups all the while trying to enjoy the last few moments of time with the kids before I depart for my trip.
Right not I’m writing to you from the airport. Despite the background noise my mind is quiet. Nobody wants anything and I’m just starting to move beyond the ache I feel when I leave them behind and I’m slowing starting to remember that I’m not just mum, I’m also me.
Reading this makes me wonder why I bother with the work. I’ll write about that soon but here’s the short why.
My family is the most important thing to me. Work is also an important part of my identity (note there was no but at the start of that sentence). It’s been a long time since I accepted there is no such thing as work/life balance, however there is compromise. Personally, I think everyone in my little family is better for it. As I said to my teen a little earlier this afternoon as she pointed out that shortly after her brother leaves for university she will too;
“You are all getting a little older now, it’s time for me to start spreading my wings. I hate being away from you but if these work trips get me just a little more used to it then they are a good thing”.
Her silence I took as an acknowledgement of understanding.
Image from https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/pink-coloured-women-only-parking-6169510