Before having a baby, I must admit that I liked traveling for work. I got to stay in nice hotels, eat in fancy restaurants, ride in town cars like a celebrity and could stay up as late as I wanted. My husband and I both traveled from time to time and we both enjoyed the change of scenery while we were away from home. I even took a trip when I was big and pregnant and felt no shame in using both the spa facilities and the pillow concierge at The Benjamin when I was in New York. (They really do have a pillow concierge – here’s their pillow menu http://www.thebenjamin.com/PillowMenu.aspx)
But then, here comes this bundle of perfection who is dependent on me for his every need. Not only has it been difficult leaving him for the day while I’m at work but I can only imagine it will be torture to be almost 1000 miles away! Going cold turkey would have been unbearable so I am so glad that my husband and I had already traveled without little one. We are blessed to have grandparents within driving distance who are retired and can keep him for extended periods. We had been to Hawaii when our son was 12 months old so surely leaving him again for just a few days wouldn’t be a problem?!? WRONG!
My son had just started at daycare after staying with family and friends for two years. And, this was going to be the first time my husband would be staying with my son as a single dad. In preparation for the trip, I wrote out all the logistics, menus, agendas…everything. My husband was given his training on how to handle situations and my sister and mom were prepped to be on standby if anything got weird. I felt good about the preparations and dropped my son off before daybreak at daycare so I could see him right before I had to head to the airport.
There were no messages on my phone when I landed so the morning was going well. No calls while I was in my afternoon meeting so we were still doing ok. Around 6:45 pm I was enjoying myself at the cocktail reception and my cell phone rang. It was my son’s teacher and she said she had my son and was asking if I was coming to pick him up. 6:30 pm started the after hours/bad parent charges at the school. At this point, money wasn’t the problem as I panicked! I immediately started crying – right in the middle of the reception. Where was my husband?! Why hadn’t he arranged a backup if he couldn’t make it?! I called my husband and he thought my sister was getting our son. I had gotten the plans all mixed up and never asked my sister to help that day. It was all my fault.
Fast forward to later that night. My husband picked up my son and they called when they got home. My son blew me kisses over the phone and said “Nite, nite Mommy!” He had no idea that just a few hours before I was about to check myself into a delinquent parent facility (do those exist?). Fast forward five years and he doesn’t even remember that I ever went on a trip.
All that to say, a parenting moment that I will mark as one of my worst ever has left no effect whatsoever on my son. It taught me a lesson to communicate better with my husband and to check and re-check my plans. It also taught me that children give unconditional love and quickly erase our minor transgressions. I should be more generous to others, not take advantage of the grace my son gives to me and be more understanding when he goofs up from time to time.
I’d like to hear from you about your highs and lows traveling for work as a parent. Comment and let us know what worked (or didn’t) for you.