Monday, October 6, 2008

On the road again.

Travel always wears me out. It's bad enough when it is pleasure travel to return home at the end of your trip feeling like the world slapped you around a little, but it's far worse when it is business travel. Not only do I return home to a house of men returned to their natural state, I am exhausted, guilty and usually a bit stressed by my inability to be more than one place at once.

Last week I was away for the better part of four days. And though the reason I was traveling was good, and I got a lot done and all of the good cheerleader talk that goes with being a team player, it was brutal. For me and for my family.

Start with the trip to the airport. Our nanny was gracious enough to drop me off, and as I was getting out of the car and saying goodbye to Little Dog, he asked, "I come with you, mama?" I had to tell him, no, he was staying with NE and I would be back soon. His head sagged, he looked down, crestfallen and started to cry. In turn, I felt like I was abandoning this precious little person who only wanted to spend more time with me. In other words, I felt like the worst mom in the history of shitty moms. It sucked. I managed to cheer him up by bribing him with the promise of chocolate milk, but I entered the airport with his sad face on my mind. How's that for unchecked baggage?

Due to a recent tightening of travel budgets for our organization, I've been less able to fly down to California to see my team. This means when I do go down, I have a lot more commitments. I have to make up for all of the distance in the few short days I'm in town. It can be fun, but it usually means long days, short nights and a bit of stress trying to see everyone, touch base with my team and make enough time to fit everything in. Don't get me wrong, I love my team. They are fantastic. I work with some of the smartest, funniest, nicest people I've ever met. It is the non-stop schedule that kills me. My typical day in California runs long. I'm up by 6:00 am and I'm lucky if I'm in bed by 1 am. Some of it work, some of it social and some of it travel from place to place. By the end of the trip, I feel like I need a vacation just to get back to my normal state of mind. Bookend that schedule with the stress of a fear of flying (coupled this time with mechanical issues on the way there and back that left us sitting on the tarmac awaitng repairs) and you have the perfect recipe for a migraine.

When I get home from a trip, I have to go through all of the emotional highs and lows that follow a bout of mommy-abandonment. First the kids are so keyed up they are bouncing off the walls, then they get clingy, then they act surprised every time they see me. It can take days for them to really feel like I'm really back for good, and that breaks my heart. Today, when I was leaving to take Big Dog to preschool, Little Dog ran to get his shoes. "I come with you, mommy?" he asked, full of expectation. "No sweetie, you're staying home with NE," I explained, my stomach dropping, "but I'll be home tonight." And the tears started again.

It isn't that I want to be home all of the time, I just wish the departure and re-entry were less brutal. I feel like I end up coming home trying to be supermom just to repair any damage I may have done to the children, and superwife to try to re-ingratiate myself to my husband. See, I feel guilty leaving him to fend for himself with both kids too. I don't envy single parents. In fact I have no idea how they do it. It is like they have some kind of superpowers that I lack. In my world it takes two fully-engaged adults to wrangle the kids and keep our own sanity in tact. And even with both of us home, we usually end the day falling into bed utterly exhausted. In some small way I feel like despite the obvious challenges of business travel, leaving him with the kids is the poopy end of the stick. Add to this, Mr. Dog had just started a new job last week. More stress and pressure to be on time, be pulled together, be rested and ready to get up to speed. In other words, not the best time for your wife to disappear leaving you at the mercy of two tiny dictators who seem to thrive on a persistent lack of sleep.

We all survived it, but I have noticed we are all a bit frazzled since I returned. We're having more time outs, more "you need to listen to mommy and poppa" discussions and more general family friction. And my bags have yet to be unpacked. Did I say I need a vacation? I fly off to Vegas on Oct. 17th for Auntie Chihuahua's hen party. Then we have a family trip to Colorado the following week. Well, at least I'm already packed.

3 comments:

Nana M said...

I sooo understand. For me it is the trade show thing. We sell so much varied merchandise we end up going to tons of market shows. This year especially was brutal... It makes it hard to reconnect your life - even if you enjoy what you are doing

JP Richards said...

Hey there,

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geekymummy said...

I don't know how you do it, it sounds exhausting. See you in Vegas! I'm feeling very guilty about leaving Dad alone with both kids while I whoop it up, but plan on assuaging said guilt with large quantities of booze.

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