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Katie Travels, Jon Unravels?

Jon and his baby girl.

I don’t travel for my work as often as some of my other working-mom pals, but I travel some. And this week, I am out of town for three days at a really special event related both to my actual job, as well as to my personal blogging. (I can’t wait ’til I can share more details about what I am doing. Being here is a very cool opportunity.)

My older children, including three year old C, are accustomed to my semi-regular work-related travel. I’ve done it for as long as they can remember – sometimes more often and sometimes less often, but always at least a few times a year. However, this is only my second trip away overnight since Baby G was born; the first one was when she was only 3.5 months old, so she didn’t really notice my absence, even though I missed her like crazy. There’s something that feels – for lack of a better word – unnatural to me about being away from my baby for 24 hours or more. But the fact is that I have to do the work that I do in order to support our family, and that work necessarily involves some travel. So it is what it is. I know that. My husband Jon knows that, and so do the kids.

Of course, if I am being totally honest, I have to admit that while I do hate being away from my baby for a day or three, well, it is kind of nice to have a break sometimes – a break from everything and everyone that pulls at my time and attention in my everyday life. Right now, for example, I am typing this blog post while sprawled out on a super comfy hotel bed with fluffy pillows and high thread-count sheets, while watching “Keeping up With the Kardashians.” I don’t have to be anywhere or do anything for anyone until I meet up with some other mombloggers for dinner, in about an hour. And then when I return from dinner, I will take a loooooong, hot bath in a very clean bathttub that doesn’t contain a single strand of any child’s hair, or any small plastic toys for me to sit on. After the bath, I will climb back into this very comfy bed, switching on a movie or something, or maybe finishing the book I am reading on my iPad before drifting off to sleep. And speaking of sleep, I will get to sleep ALL NIGHT in a bed where I am ALL BY MYSELF.

Sigh.

So yeah, there are undeniable upsides to business travel for the frazzled parent of a baby or young children. Upsides for me, that is. There are no upsides for Jon, who never travels for his job and thus never, ever gets to be totally alone in a nice hotel in a strange city. Instead, my amazing husband stays behind when I board a plane heading elsewhere, bravely and very competently holding down the fort all by himself (with maybe a little help from his mom) until I get back.

Let me be clear that Jon is an absolutely equal parent in every way. In fact, in some ways, he’s the more hands-on parent because I work more hours. There is no aspect of caring for Baby G that he hasn’t handled all by himself hundreds of times. Except for one: bedtime and overnights. For all kinds of reasons, I have always taken the lead on getting 7 month old G to sleep each night, as well as parenting her during the nighttime hours. She sleeps nestled in the crook of my arm in our bed, snuggled up against me. I know what every wiggle and whimper means during the night, whether she’s hungry or just wants a shift in position. Both G and I like this arrangement, and so does Jon. It means he gets more sleep every night after spending more of the daytime hours being primary parent while I am working.

Like I said, last time I traveled, G was really not much past the newborn stage. She hadn’t yet developed any well defined routines or preferences. But now she has. And one of those preferences is for me, and me only once she starts to get sleepy at night. If I am working late or doing something outside the house with one of the big kids in the evening, G will unhappily fight sleep until I get home, at which point she happily settles in my arms and heads off to the Land of Nod.

Given this, I am really nervous about how things are going to go in the evenings and overnights while I am on this trip. J and E are staying with their dad and stepmother while I am gone, so Jon is truly left without even their extra sets of helping hands to get 3 year old C and Baby G to go to sleep and keep asleep. Lately, Jon has taken lead on C’s bath and bedtime routine while I cover G.  One baby per adult. It works. But now he’s on his own, and even for my superdad of a husband, this is going to be a real challenge.

I’ll let you know how it goes.  But right now, I need to take a quick nap in this dreamy hotel bed before heading out to eat a delicious dinner at a nice restaurant with a bunch of supersmart and interesting adults… (I love you honey!!!!!)

So how about y’all? Do you ever have to travel for work and leave your baby behind with your partner? How do you feel about being away from the baby, and how does your partner feel about being left behind to fly solo? Do you secretly or not so secretly love the fact that business travel allows you some alone-time, as well as a shiny bathtub that you didn’t have to scrub yourself? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

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