At the Crossroads of Motherhood and TravelTracey Clark
I’ve been traveling more lately than I ever have. Like, in my whole life. I guess it’s time. No, I know it’s time. Opportunities are presenting themselves. My career is taking me in new directions. My circle of friends and colleagues has expanded beyond my own city streets and no longer knows the borders of state or even country. I’m thankful that the time is now for all of this, and that it wasn’t years ago when my daughters were young. Truth is, I’m not a nomad by nature. Leaving my family, my routine, my day to day life isn’t as easy as it seems. At least for me it isn’t. I thrive on structure and predictability and have raised my kids in the same way which means there’s a big part of all of us rooted in the routine. Even still, the winds of wanderlust are ruffling my wings, lifting me, carrying me along. Yes, it’s exciting and wonderful and I wouldn’t change a thing but, traveling can take a toll. On them and on me.
I mentioned my kids being older now (9 & 15) which makes it so much easier than if they were younger, true. But, I’ve got a 9 year old big-time crier who’s heart breaks each time I leave and an hyper-engaged 15 year old who—believe it or not—really wants me to be privy to nearly every detail of her life. In other words, if it were up to them, I wouldn’t go anywhere unless they were with me. I know it and I feel it every time I travel. I’m pretty sure that any mother can relate to heartstrings being pulled, or better tugged like this.
I know that children are better off with proper balance in their lives whether it comes to nutrition, activities, homework, screen time, play, and even mom time. In other words, I know that me being unavailable sometimes is a good, healthy thing for them, not to mention for me! It’s not that I don’t understand that. I totally get it and I believe it’s true. And although I do leave, and they navigate just fine without me—and get to do lots of awesome stuff with dad when I’m away—it still hurts my heart knowing they ache a little (or a lot) each time I go.
I can recall a number of times people who love me remind me, “it’s good for them to learn how to be without you”, “it’s the best thing for them to see you travel”, or even the extreme, “you missing your daughter’s events sometimes is a good thing; you can’t be there for everything.” OK, OK, OK but ouch, ouch and ouch. Sure, all of this is probably true when it comes to the big picture of things but in these micro moments, I have a hard time being OK with any of it. Truth is, for as much as I really do enjoy all of my adventures away from home (both work and play) it’s always hard for me to do it. I enjoy being there for the everyday and I especially enjoy being there for the events. It feels good for me to be present. And I can’t be present when I’m not.
So where does all of this leave me? Well, for as hard it is for me to admit, I have become one of those moms that tries to make it as easy as possible on everyone when I do travel. I’m just putting it out there—not because I’m looking for criticism—just because I wonder if anyone else does the same thing.
Here’s my list of 7 to-dos before I leave:
- Try to plan travel dates/times around events and activities so I miss as little of family time as possible
- Stock the cupboards with the kid’s favorite foods (school staples and after-school snacks)
- Do the kid’s laundry so the daily outfits are washed and ready for the week
- Call in my mom-friend carpool resources and get daily transportation squared away
- Prep for whatever might be happening while I’m away; presents purchased for b-day parties, shoes bought for school dances, etc.
- Get everyone clear on the schedule(s) for when I’m gone
- If possible, loosely plan for check in calls or even face time while I’m gone (especially when different time zones are a factor)
This might resonate with some people. I’m guessing maybe of few of you might even be nodding along with some of these. Or it might make some people roll their eyes or even scoff in judgment that I am enabling my kids to be totally dependent on me and the way I do things. Either way, I know that everyone’s got an opinion and a way of doing their own thing around travel, around career, around motherhood. I guess I’m just curious; is traveling for work, or even for play hard for you? Hard for your kids? Do you try to make it easier on your family when you’re away? Do you let them fend for themselves? What are some of the things that go through your head when you leave home? I hold no judgment about any of it. I’m just eager to get some of your thoughts and travel strategies, one hard-working mom to the other. Let’s hear it.
For more about Tracey and how she elevates the everyday, visit her at traceyclark.com.
For the story about how she and her teen got here, take a peek at their first post at Reframed.
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