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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Reflections of a Traveling-Working Mom

I've recently become a traveling-working mom; emphasis on traveling.  I'll be referring to myself as such quite a bit as I'd sort of like to write a series of posts about my "adventures", for as long as this journey lasts.  I hope that this title doesn't take away from the fact that I am a wife.  This new experience affects ALL (i.e., the hubs, the girl, mwah) of us greatly, so I want to make that clear right off the bat.  I'll discuss how we're feeling, what we're learning, and hopefully share things that can help others who are in, or may someday go through, a similar situation.  

With that said, where do I even begin...

A few weeks ago I was informed that I'd be traveling pretty consistently for work.  As a consultant, we are required to go wherever there is a need.  After being with a client for nearly two years, just thirty miles or so from my home, I've become quite comfortable with the idea of not traveling regularly.  But, it is now time to move on to a new client and a new site in Tennessee.  This change consists of flying to Tennessee early Monday morning and returning to North Carolina late Friday night (thanks, time change).  

As you can imagine, this change will have a huge impact on my family in a number of ways. From scheduling (preschool drop off/pick up) to finances (additional care before/after preschool) to emotions (all involved) and beyond, we can't help but take this transition seriously. We've discussed, and planned, and prayed, and discussed some more.

At first, I thought I should simply bottle up my own emotions. That being upset would somehow make me less of a womanist; who can do all, be all. That being the one who is the main caretaker of the child(ren) and the home in the mist of being a career woman would place a notch in the "you're setting woman back if you can't handle this" column. But, eff that! my ability/right to choose for myself which roles I prefer to take on as a woman, and to stand by them, is an act of empowerment.  So there. Beside, I wasn't being fair to myself.  As usual!

As I'm sure you're aware, my family life is extremely important to me. The fact that I was a SAHM for quite a while should show you my dedication to this role as the homemaker. It's a role that I fell into naturally and have become quite proud of, and one I don't ever plan to completely exchange for a career. I am of the belief, perhaps crazily, that raising a family and advancing your career aren't mutually exclusive. But, I recognize that sacrifices will be made during different stages of each role (homemaker/career woman) when you're attempting to do both as I am.

It's such a tough position, really. On one hand, you don't want to be viewed as the wife and mother and be penalized because of it; possibly looked over, less pay, false assumptions about your dedication and commitment, etc. At the same time, you want employers to value work-life balance, flexibility and the like. However, at the end of the day, it's your responsibility to do what's in the best interest of yourself (and family) and an employer's responsibility to do what's in the best interest of the business. Right? Is there a middle ground? If so, how is it defined? Where does each side draw their limits? Which side is giving enough? Being considerate enough? Who has the answers to these doggone questions?!

As for me, I always want to put my family first, but I also don’t want to use my family as an excuse as to why I can’t be a leader in my field (and take on all that comes with that role – including traveling), so I'm attempting to take on this new challenge in stride. But, I can't pretend that it isn't difficult. Extremely hard, actually. I've traveled for a full week already and I've experienced a number of emotions leading up to that week and during, including fear, guilt, anxiety, sensitivity, resentment, uncertainty...you get it. It's a lot. And, I'm finally realizing it's okay to feel this way.

I recently spoke with a traveling-working mother who's been doing so since 2008, a person whom I truly admire. She made it clear that it would be very hard in the beginning, and was very adamant about this point. I can attest that she was/is absolutely right. She also said, it gets better, that both myself and my family will eventually get into a routine, find a new "normal", and we will all be just fine. I really needed and appreciated her perspective, and I'm fervently praying for that new normal feeling to quickly present itself for the sake of us all.

I ask that you pray for us too...and stay tuned.  There is so much more to say about what we've gleaned from this experience already, and it's only just the beginning.

To safe travels,
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7 comments

  1. I don't really think there is an 'ideal family'. For some it might be ideal for the mom to work while the dad is the caretaker of the house and kids. For others it might be the reverse. And the 'ideal' for each family probably changes season by season.
    My advice (even though I don't have experience with this...) would be to try this out, giving yourself and your family time to adjust. Eventually if you see it isn't working out, shift things around. You (and your spouse) are the only ones who really know what is ideal for your family.

    All the best!
    Sarah
    sarahesh.com

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  2. Making the decision to do what's right for our families can be challenging. I always admire people who do what's right for them even it it's not the norm. Good luck to you on this new endeavor.

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  3. I love your honesty about your situation and sharing about the feelings you are experiencing. The ability to be open and give yourself sometime to adjust to your new lifestyle so to speak will allow you to put things into a better perspective. I wish you all the luck with your new endeavors and look forward to hearing more about your journey as time goes on.

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  4. You have to do what you feel is right. I so admire you for putting such an emphasis on your family, but still continuing to do what you need to do as a working woman. It sets such a great example for your children to let them see you as their powerful Mom - doing whatever she needs to do to stay strong. My Dad had to do this exact thing when I was young as a child, and even though it was emotional and hard to see him walk out the door on Monday morning and not see him until Saturday morning when I woke up, it set a great example for me and I have carried that with me since then, to now being an adult. Good for you and can't wait to follow your journey with you through your blog!!

    www.pearlsandpolkadots.net

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  5. I think it is very brave of you to share this post. You are absolutely doing the right thing for your family. As a working mom myself I also struggle with the same feelings sometimes, but I also know I'm doing what's right for all of us. Good luck in your journey!

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  6. Good luck with everything, it sounds like you'll do great! I hope the transition is smooth for your family.

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  7. I understand your conflicting emotions around this! I've been on 2 week-long business trips away from my family and it was very hard. I LOVE travel and that I get to occasionally do it for work, but I miss my son and partner terribly. I'm so thankful for skype, and have no ideas how families managed without it in the past!

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