Business Travel: Returning from a Work Trip
Like Kate, I was away last week at a conference in Florida. It was a tricky trip to plan for because I had to leave on Memorial Day, which meant I had to prepare, plan and pack all by the previous Thursday before we headed out for the long weekend. I was going a little crazy trying to get all my work done, plan for my own travel and do what I could in advance in order to make my husband’s life easier while I was away. Yes, my husband is completely capable of taking care of our kids solo. But we have our split responsibilities, and if I could lay out my daughter’s clothes, give him tips for packing the kids’ lunches, and buy the birthday presents for the three – yes three – birthday parties the kids had the weekend I returned, it would just make me feel a little less guilty about having five days of freedom – complete authority over the remote control, no kitchen to clean, and absolute privacy in the bathroom.
I knew my kids would be happy to see me when I returned Friday night, and I assumed my husband would be relieved to have me back. So I was a little surprised when, after I was home for about an hour and a half, my daughter pulled me aside to share something in private. “It’s about Daddy,” she said. “He seems a little sad since you got home.” Presuming this was not a deeper commentary on the state of our marriage, I explained to her that he was just giving me a chance to be alone with her and her brother. He was stepping back so they could have Mommy time.
But later that night, my husband shared with me how the week had gone and how on one night he took the kids on a special outing, on a school night, and didn’t return until after 10:00 p.m.; and on another night let them watch a movie and eat dinner in bed, our bed; and no, he hadn’t given them any baths or showers. And I realized, he had had his freedom too. Freedom to parent in HIS way. Without guilt or nagging or accountability to me. And maybe he was a little sad when I came back, bringing with me a return to our normal routine with normal bedtimes, and meals eaten in the kitchen, and general hygiene, and all that stuff.
And while I love the way we parent together, I will feel a little less guilty the next time I travel, I will enjoy the upsides the next time HE travels, and I will try to encourage us both to break our own rules together more often too.