Mom's Business Trips.

by Leslie Morgan Steiner 

 

Like much of the division of labor in our household, my relinquishment of business trips was gradual, messy, and undiscussed. In retrospect the trend seems logical. But the real story: going from zero to three kids in five years while juggling kids and career obliterated any rational choice, for both my husband and myself. We were just trying to survive each day.

 

Before kids, I travelled far more than my husband. As a director of international marketing at Johnson & Johnson, I flew to Canada, Australia, the Mid-East and Latin America, sometimes for weeks at a time. I loved the thrill of visiting different markets.

 

Once I became a mom, I didn’t want an ocean between me and my baby (eventually, babies). The kids grew and so did my ability to juggle work and kids in ways that business school never prepared me for (like giving a quarterly board report on two hours sleep after nursing a toddler’s fever all night). I curtailed my travel and eventually sought jobs that didn’t require more than a few trips a year. After baby number three I started working from home.

 

My husband’s career progressed, and his travel increased. These days the division of business trips runs more than 50 per year for him, less than 10 for me.

 

My husband knows better than to complain about jet lag, long flights, and late night client dinners in gourmet restaurants in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas, where his job takes him frequently. I try hard not to run on about the endless small frustrations of childrearing – largely because it does not make for dramatic dinnertime storytelling.

 

Due to Crazy Love’s recent publication, I’ve had to travel much more frequently. Like Wilma Flintstone taking over Fred’s job driving the bulldozer at the Bedrock Gravel pit, I’ve enjoyed the switcheroo.

 

I went to New York City on Tuesday afternoon. Napped on the plane. Got taken out to a leisurely dinner at a sidewalk café by a flattering board of directors. Afterwards I walked Fifth Avenue in the balmy 90° Manhattan night. Slept in a fluffy hotel bed without any midnight visitors. At the meeting the next day, everyone told me how relaxed I looked.

 

None of which happens at home.

 

Once back, I checked in with my Darling Husband at his office

 

“God, what an awful night,” he said into his cell phone.

 

I bit my tongue. “Awful” didn’t describe one single minute of my evening.

 

nicolariestaggart
05.27.09

The fact that you CAN manage all that you just described and make some tough decisions in the heat of the moment with various and conflicting priorities shows that you are SO worth being on the CEO's team! Know it, own it and model for the CEO and other team members the respect for managing it all that you deserve.
Nicola Ries Taggart
The Executive Moms Coach
www.executivemomscoach.com

fcampagne
05.22.09

Loved your piece on mommy’s business trips, as well as managing your husband! I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to read your blog in the middle of the day and feel like I’m hearing from someone who “gets it!”

I thought you might appreciate what happened to me this week, in light of talk of business trips and such. On Monday morning, when my au pair was a little late, I went to knock on her door, and to my complete shock, I found her room empty, vacated in the middle of the night, and a note on the bed reading: “dear frederique, I know you’ll understand; I’ve gone to California to get married, love you like a sister” – and a bunch of other words in there that I could hardly read because I was so stunned. Frantic calls to my au pair agency were unreturned, my husband took our youngest to grand rounds at the hospital, I took my oldest to nursery school and begged them to take him full time this week, while calling my mother in law to fly in immediately to help cover the gaps. By the middle of the day, I’d received a call from his school saying he’d ruptured his ear drum and needed to be picked up immediately as something was oozing out of his ear, and my own trip to the allergist to get a prescription before I flew to London on Wednesday resulted in learning that I had my own ear infection and a sinus infection that would surely lead to ear drum ruptures if I flew to London Wednesday night. Meanwhile, there was a part of me that still wanted to go to London as I knew that not going would hurt me professionally in front of a bunch of men who always make the trip, and of course I was annoyed that my husband’s business trip trumped mine (even though his was domestic,) in light of the unstable home front. And then, of course, there was the reality that I wanted to make sure my son was ok, and the need to be the one who managed the selection process for a new nanny, none of which I was willing to outsource.

So, I cancelled my business trip, and have spent 3 sleepless nights vacillating between wondering what kind of person I actually had living in my home, how much did I really know her, and trying to calm the primal fear of wondering if my children had been safe, with the mental preparation of having to overcompensate at work for the next several weeks to show that yes, despite being a sick working mom, I’m still worth having on the CEO’s team.

I’m going to frame that au pair’s letter and one day share it with my daughter, either when she needs a good laugh from trying to work while raising kids, or just to remind her to be nice to me on Mother’s Day!

dc_browser
05.07.09

This is a wonderful post. I just wrote a piece on work travel from a slightly different angle (althogh I like your "deal with it dad" focus) for www.momspa.net called "My Work-Vacation to Paris" - http://momspa.typepad.com/mom_spa/2009/04/my-workvacation-to-paris.html

Janelle
05.06.09

As a mom of 3 in 5 years who works 2 part-time jobs (1 day, 1 evening) I can totally relate to the amazement of how chaotic things are when I'm not home each evening. I can't tell you how many times I have received a phone call while I'm working in the evening and my husband has asked me to solve a problem with the kids over the phone ("parenting-by-phone" is what I call it). I have never disturbed him during working hours to deal with anything (not even when we lived in different states for 6 months), but apparently I'm fair game at all hours. I don't understand why he can't make these decisions on his own about discipline, bedtimes, and school issues and has to call me when something goes awry. Especially since we have been living like this for more than 4 years!

queenbee88
05.06.09

I travel at least once a month and this sounds like my husband to a 't'. I typically have to bite my tongue but I can't supress a smile sometimes.

I love that first night in a hotel- such quiet!

-Victoria
http://www.themummychronicles.com

Amy_UWM
05.06.09

I don't know. I think a "Welcome to my world" might have been in order here. Great post.

Amy
Up With Moms
http://upwithmoms.blogspot.com

dhthompson
05.05.09

I love it!! I now have a job where I travel a few times a year, mostly for just one night. However, when I get home, you'd think my husband had been trying to wrestle an army of toddlers instead of one and a 16 month old. Which I admit, the 16 month old can feel like an army. It's amazing how much they forget we do, until we're gone and they have to do it.

deceo
05.05.09

I so loved this article! A couple years ago, while away on a trip, I made the mistake of getting involved in the household drama and fix it "long-distance". It only frustrated my husband and me (and ruined whatever good vibe I had going on from being on my own). So, I made him make me a promise - when I call home from now on and ask how are things going he says, "fine." Anything more than that, I vowed to myself that I am not going to get involved. Why is it so complicated when we are away? It does get a little easier when the kids are older because THEY know the routine and can tell dad. But, now, of course, I have two dogs and he has no clue how to feed or manage them!