Ever since college, I’ve mildly hated flying. I consider it a mild bi-product of our post-9/11 time in DC. It’s never kept me from traveling, and I don’t have to take medication or anything. But, I rarely sleep on planes and the experience is far from enjoyable for me…that is before I had Luke.
Since starting my current position almost a year ago, I’ve traveled for work roughly once a month. Two of those trips were extended international jaunts. After traveling with an infant/toddler, traveling by myself may as well be a trip to the spa.
Most of my work travel, I’m by meeting up with colleagues or clients at the destination. If I do have colleagues along, it’s rare that we sit together. (Small tangent: I’m completely perplexed by the etiquette of this. Is it forced if we sit together, will we only talk about work, is it weird to sleep in the next seat to someone you work with, will I offend them if I’d rather sit alone. I usually defer to the person I’m traveling with and all but once, we’ve gone our separate ways on the plane.)
My travel delight starts from the moment I enter the airport. I now hold TSA precheck. No security lines for me and I get to keep my shoes on. And, while I make it a point to not purchase Starbucks in normal life, I make an exception in the airport and grab a latte and a snack while I wait.
Flying has meant time for blogging, knitting and reading. Three things I have next to no time for in regular life these days. I am a fast reader and usually can read an entire book on a flight. Bonus points, not being a movie buff, I rarely have seen a film that’s being shown on a plane because we never go out to the theater and I am usually too tired to watch something in one sitting after we’ve put Luke to bed.
Depending on deadlines, I will catch up on work during flights, but my laptop battery will only run about two hours. Oh darn.
Flight time means no one needs me. My phone is silent and I get to sit for extended periods of time. It’s a beautiful thing really. But, there’s a flip side to the coin as well.
On my recent work trip to Vienna, almost everyone I talked to asked me who was watching my kid. I have never heard someone ask a man that. I count myself enormously lucky to have an involved, supportive and confident spouse. But if he was none of those things, I’d honestly still travel if that was what my job required — it would just require additional hands on deck at home to make it work.
Before I left on my trip, I was catching up with a fellow working-mom. She travels for work less frequently, but for longer stretches and has a 3-week stint coming up and a 9-month old. She confided that her extended family (parents and husband aside) have been giving her flack for abandoning her baby.
My take on it is this. If it is what you are passionate about. If it’s a job you love and work you feel you need to do. If your husband and your parents are supportive. If your kid is healthy and it’s what is right for you and your life – forget everyone else.
And I think that applies to moms who work at home too. We all have different things that drive us and make us whole people. And our lives and living situations have different demands, necessitating different strategies to take us where we want to go.
My friend also asked me if I worry about something happening while I’m away. And, how can you not in the world we live in. But, I also worry that I’ll get in a car accident on the freeway or Luke will choke on something at daycare. Statistically both more likely.
Here’s what I hope. I hope that by doing what is right for me and our family, I’m showing Luke how to find balance and drive. I hope that he sees you can have a passion and go after it. And I hope he feels that he gets undivided time love and attention when I’m home–most days–to get him up, feed him, take him to school, pick him up, play with him and tuck him in. I hope he gets time with his dad to build their relationship. Time that shows him collaboration in relationships, how deeply he’s loved by both parents and what well-rounded manhood looks like. I hope if I was traveling and something went terribly wrong that Luke would know he was everything to me. I hope he’d still be brave and bold and travel the world and I hope he’d go for the life he wanted, regardless of the what-ifs and the consequences.
As luck would have it, I don’t have any work travel on the books for some time. So until then, I’ll be sneaking in moments of quiet and maybe a Starbucks trip or two.