To Love. To Grow. To Change. To Live.

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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