Business Trip Battles
by Leslie Morgan Steiner
Okay, maybe I wasn’t at my most brilliant when planning how to combine work and motherhood when I was first pregnant, but here’s one biggie I totally missed: how vexing business travel can be when you have a baby, a job, and a husband who also travels for his job. In my pregnancy glow, worried about breastfeeding and diaper rash, it never occurred to me to ponder good overnight care or to arrange a move next door to my in-laws – available last minute, just like bosses and clients assume you are for business trips. I certainly never imagined my husband and I would fight for 12 years over this issue. I guess I simply figured our business trips would never fall on the same day or we’d “work something out.”
Now when I find out about an upcoming business trip, I race for my computer to send DH an email to “Black Out” the dates I’m gone. We’ve operate under a first-come-first-served policy resembling the mad scramble to get your name on the daycare center list the second you know you are pregnant. I want MY name at the top so I have dibs on my dates. My Darling Husband does the same…his dreaded TRAVEL email header makes me shudder for fear he might reserve key dates first.
I have 10 trips over the course of the next four months, considerately spread out, all booked as Black Out dates. All have been planned for the better part of a year.
I thought I was safe.
Sometimes even the most wonderful partners, who unfortunately are not your direct reports, sometimes just say TOUGH NUGGIES I MIGHT NEED TO BE OUT OF TOWN THEN TOO.
In my case, first I yelled at my husband.
My side of the conversation went like this: “I have made hundreds of sacrifices for our family over the past 12 years! I have found an incredibly flexible job that pays well and allows me to be home 90% of the time! You owe me!”
If we’d been having a good day as a couple, his side of the conversation would have gone like this:________________.
But yesterday he answered back.
“I have made a lot of sacrifices too, honey,” he said quietly. “I change business trips and meetings all the time. Last month I went to California and back in one day and I do that all the time. But I have an obligation to my job to travel sometimes, even when you are out of town. We have to find a solution that works for both of us.”
Even I had to admit that sounded awfully reasonable.