Far Away Mommy.

by Jennifer Sey

 

I am writing this on a plane from Barcelona to San Francisco. Well, I'm really on a plane from Frankfurt to San Francisco but I started the return flight from Barcelona. I was in Europe – Italy and Spain - for a week for work. I attended the European men's apparel trade fair and the Dockers European Sales Launch. Sounds pretty glamorous, I know.

 

I will get home on a Friday afternoon, having left eight days earlier. Once I am home, I will get as many hugs and snuggles as possible before leaving again for a week in New York. Again, sounds pretty fabulous.

 

But I have been dreading these two weeks for several months. Don't get me wrong. Florence was beautiful if not a tad too hot. The sites - the Duomo, the Arno, the Ponte Vecchio - were stunning, though somewhat blurry as I buzzed past them on the way to meetings. Barcelona's Gaudi buildings and Las Ramblas were also dazzling. The food and drink – salty meat and cheese, red wine – were delicious in both places. I worked a lot, but enjoyed authentic, luscious meals in between.

 

At my behest, my oldest learned to send emails while I was away so we communicated regularly with photo attachments and all. (“This is what I saw today,” mommy wrote. “I got to the next level in my game today and daddy had a meeting and I miss you please come home and I will give you a big hug,” wrote Virgil.)

 

But emails can't bridge the distance. No way to send a hug or smell dirty overgrown little boy hair via email. Furthermore, my husband and I always struggle with the phone. He doesn't like telecommunicating. Not big on communicating in general but I can draw it out of him in person. He loathes small talk which is what I crave when far away. I need the familiarity of dinner conversation that isn't about work and selling more pants. (“El Corte Ingles is the only department store in Spain and represents significant further opportunity for us.” And so on and so on and so on.)

 

When I fail to re-create the the inane back and forth of husband and wife dinner chatter over the phone, I get mad. Snippy really. And then we fight. Over the phone with me a gazillion miles away. It sucks big time.

 

Nonetheless, I always get through it. I wonder how long I can keep doing it, being away from my family for work. I wonder this every time I'm gone. But the fact is, I don't do it that much. All told I am probably gone a total of 4 or 5 weeks a year, not in a row. A few days here and there with some big week long chunks in the middle. Completely do-able. But I never fail to question – Why do I do this? I'm missing everything! - when I am away for long stretches.

 

roseherring
06.28.09

God, I can relate. I travel much more frequently for work - about once or twice a month but for only one or two nights at a time. I have a pit in my stomach for the days leading up to heading to the airport. I smell my kids heads a million times before leaving hoping I can somehow take that sweet scent with me... I tear up when I see moms in the airport with their babies wishing I were holding mine. It doesn't help that I am still breastfeeding my 8 month old so travel with pump in tow -- a constant reminder that I am missing snuggling up with my little nursling before bed rather than my Medela PIS sucking the life out of me. Love (sometimes) my job and need the money so that's that. Appreciate your article and knowing you share the same torment.

Helen B
06.24.09

Those feelings you describe are real and you should explore them further, not right them off. A few year's ago I travelled quite a bit to New York and Buffalo. I was in fancy restaurants all the time in NY and missing my kids while I was there. I vowed never to work that kind of job again. What happens while you are away is that your kids are growing up. Of course they still love you when you get back but that doesn't keep them from growing up. Try and find something with no travel. It sounds like you will be happier.

kerrydawn
06.24.09

What a great piece- although I wonder how many mommy track'd readers will under stand the El Corte Ingles reference. :) I moved my career (mostly) out to the 'burbs and at times really do miss the trips to LA Market and Magic/Las Vegas. I think we all need to support each other as we are all in conflict. You have an amazing career- I hope you find balance & feel rewarded.

PJsMom
06.24.09

Web cams - cheap, easy, fun for the kids, helps loads.

dpare23
06.24.09

What a wonderful article, Jennifer, I know exactly how you feel. I don't travel that much with my job, but it brings such heartache and guilt at the same time you have fun on travel. I've cried at those same movies too.