Balancing Work Travel... and Mom Guilt

I remember when I first had to travel for work after I had Ella.  She was about 6 months old.  We would facetime but she didn't really know what was going on.  She hadn't attached herself at my hip yet.  She hadn't chosen a favorite parent and I only mean that in the way that she hadn't found one to throw bigger tantrums over.  It was hard as a new mom but I knew I had to do it.

Since then, I've been home without travel bouts for two years.  In that time, we've become attached.  At the hip.  I know what she wants when she wants it.  What she needs when she needs it.  I know when she's awake in the middle of the night before she's even cried.  We've got a little bit of a thing.

Now, I'm out on travel again.  
Things have changed.
I'm in airport security wondering if I left enough outfits out for the week, if she's going to do something amazing while I'm gone, and if my husband will know how to sing the one lullaby in that one book we always read.
And then I realize... She knows I left her.  
Sunday she dropped me off at the airport with her daddy.  They both said they'd miss me and I'm sure they did.  There was no meltdown.  There were no tears.  I thought, I can do this... and they can too!

Monday through Wednesday everything seemed pretty good.  I'd call and she didn't want to talk to me, but I got updates from her dad on what they did and how she was doing.  She's say hi and then go play.  My husband would call her back over to the phone to say I love you and goodnight.  She doesn't want to talk to me.  She'd rather play than take the time to talk on the phone with me.  She'd rather watch the iPad than Facetime with me.

Thursday my husband called me in a mini panic.  She hadn't taken a nap and was ridiculously tired and having a full on MELT DOWN.  I know he was calling because he was at his "what do I do now" point.  She just kept crying "I want to hold you mommy" and I about started crying.  I thought I just want to be home.  I can't do this to her.  I calmly, holding in my tears, told her to lay down on the couch and daddy would put a movie on for her.  She just kept walking to the phone crying "I want to hold you."  I kept the tears in and again told her to lay on the couch and we'd put a movie on for her.  My heart was breaking.  

Then Friday.  I thought we had made it.  I thought we were in the clear.  I was sitting in the airport and the phone rang.  It was my daughter wanting to Facetime as soon as she woke up.  She wasn't crying, but she wasn't speaking either.  It was like she just wanted to look at me.  At one point I needed to call someone else because our flights were delayed and I was pretty sure I was going to miss my connecting flights... and she wasn't I said goodbye and hung up.  The phone rang immediately.  It was my Ells again.  She just stared at me for a while... then she said "you hung up mommy" and "will you come home?"  

My heart broke again.  I was trying to get home. I told her I'd be home when I woke up. 

My flight was delayed.  And delayed.  And delayed.  And diverted.  And missed. 
I was not home in the morning... 
My heart broke again.  She was going to be so disappointed in me.  

I finally made it home around 2pm Saturday.  
I brought a huge bag of goodies... as a way to get back into her heart - Guilt Gifts.

She wouldn't leave my side for the rest of the weekend.  
She would barely let me go to the bathroom.  
She went everywhere with me.  
She even wanted to sleep with me.  
I never thought I'd be the mom who traveled for work.  I never really saw myself as a working mom either. But now that I am, I never really thought of the effects it would have on my little one.  I don't travel all the time.  My husband is home most of the time with her.  I think we've paid a babysitter twice for nights out since she was born.  She goes to a babysitter during the day while we both work, but I'm having a hard time with this.  While I know it's good for her to learn to love the time she can share with her daddy, I still feel guilty.  This is one hell of a balancing act.  Does the guilt ever go away? I feel like I will feel guilty for missing this time forever.  

Why do we as mothers bear these guilts when we know they are fine?  It's not like she's with strangers.  She's with her daddy when I'm gone and I know they are having fun and doing fine!  Do dads feel these guilts when they go?  My husband traveled every weekend for the (longest) hockey season for the last three years and while I know sometimes he'd come home and feel bad that I was left taking care of everything, I don't think it was the same.  But why not?  I'm not sure. 

Whatever it is... I just have to check the guilt at the door and remember why I work in the first place.  I do it for her.  Believe me, if it were just me, I would have left my job long ago...  I want to be able to provide for her so she can have experiences and comforts.  I want to be a role model for her so that she learns she can do whatever she wants to do and be whatever she wants to be.  I also want her to know that working hard is a good thing! 
I have to remember those things when the mom guilt comes into play... 
Abby is an ex-professional figure skater who works full time as a Program Specialist for Customs Border Protection. In her spare time you can find her seeking out vintage finds for Maeve Vintage; a business she runs with her mom and sister. {OR} blogging about her most recently attended CityMoms event at her own blog, Little Miss Martha. She lives in Noblesville, IN with her hockey guru husband Mike and their little spitfire of a daughter, Ella.

Meet Our Bloggers

  • Megan

  • Amanda

  • Heather

  • Elana

  • Jennifer

  • Jo

  • Stephanie

  • Dorothy

  • Desta

  • Mary

  • Kara

  • Joli

  • Cheryl

  • Danielle

  • Abigail

  • Megan

  • Michelle

Find it on theBLOG