“She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn’t take them along.” (Margaret Culken Banning)
When I got my job, I was a single mother. With an ex-husband in prison and my parents dead, it meant that when I wasn’t with my children, they were basically “orphans.” Thankfully, my company could not have been more understanding of that. I told them up front I couldn’t travel due to my situation and they hired me anyway, allowed me significant flexibility in my work schedule (they still do) and although many employees traveled on the company’s behalf every quarter, they never once asked me to, made me feel guilty because I didn’t travel or forced me to travel. (I work for an amazing company, by the way.)
After my marriage, they asked if I could travel to a quarterly event. My husband stayed home with the kids, I made the trip but as all mothers know, especially those who work full-time, you frequently have your children in mind. Nothing reminded me of that more than a recent business trip I made to Anaheim, Calif. for my company’s annual Global Convention.
I was gone five days. As I departed my husband commented, “Who would have imagined that, of the two of us, YOU would have the longest business trips!” True. I certainly never imagined I’d ever have a business trip much less longer ones than those of my husband.
And, wouldn’t you know, my business trip overlapped with a significant event—you guessed it—my daughter’s prom! (Talk about Proma Drama continued! If my daughter were writing this, I’m sure she’d clarify that she is also my “only” daughter. Yes, I’m a loser working mother! Out of town the weekend of my daughter’s Junior Prom!) I had no choice. But it didn’t stop my daughter from noting, “Do you realize you’ve been out of town for every single school dance I’ve had?” (Can you sense the working mother guilt oozing from me? Trust me, it is!)
But I did what I could. Despite everything I had going on at my event (including working from early morning to late at night each day with hardly time to eat) I did everything I could in advance of the big event: I helped her find the perfect dress, I paid for it, I arranged for jewelry to match her dress, I asked my sister-in-law to do my daughter’s hair (turns out, it was quite a party with my daughter and her cousin going to prom the same night resulting in an assembly line of hair and make-up artistry performed by nieces and my sister-in-law, a fun memory for all; everyone but me, that is, as I was out of town!)
I even remembered to ask my son for pictures of my daughter and her date, to text them to me so I could experience as much of the event as possible. So there I sat in my hotel room after midnight, knowing I had to wake up in five short hours, looking at pictures of my daughter heading to her prom. And I realized, again, and not for the first time, that truly, you never do quite leave your children at home, even when you don’t take them with you.
Meanwhile, it wasn’t prom, but I was having a few adventures of my own.
“My travels led me to where I am today. Sometimes these steps have felt painful, difficult, but led me to greater happiness and opportunities.” (Diana Ross)