Since going back to work last March, a lot in my job has changed. On top of structural changes an opportunity came up for me. The role allows me to travel, lead, teach, build my leadership skills and meet a bunch of fantastic people. As a person who has a passion for change, it’s wonderful get to travel to different sites, and apply my knowledge. Staying in a desk in one spot wasn’t floating my boat. You would think that with this change and chance in my career people would ask me about my job. People might ask what I get to do, or what I love most about my job. No. The questions and comments I get are about how I handle being mom and working away from home. For example, one of the first comments I received after accepting my position was: “Wow, you think you can do that much travel with kids at home? Did you think about the impact on your kids?” Naturally, being as sarcastic as I am, I wanted to lean in and whisper “No! Actually, I can’t believe I said yes to this already! Do you think I can change my mind?” But I just say, “Well, I’m sure my family and I will work though it.”
The next thing that made me frustrated, and I didn’t even think it until I went home that night, was —- Would a man get these questions when taking on a new role that requires being away from home 40%? I’ll let you answer that yourself.
It’s been around 10 months since I’ve taken on this role, and I love it! Again, while away this week I got questions from people relating to how I cope as a mom away from my kids. Someone even asked, “how will you do this job when you have kids?” Actually, I have them already, so is that a problem? Can someone ask my about my actual role? I can’t get enough of my job, there is so much to work on and so many priorities I’m never bored or at a loss for goals. I get to develop so much as a leader and my colleges and I can mould it into something really impactful for the business.
I could talk about my new job for hours, but just in case I run into you…
Here are 5 Things to Stop Saying to Moms that Travel for Work:
“Oh, you travel that much, is your husband okay with that?” No, I just decided to change our entire family dynamic without checking in. If I have to defend my decisions then yes, he’s game most days. But ultimately, why would this question even come up? As if I would make a decision that would impact our entire family without verifying if he could fit into his schedule. However, if the question was around asking for permission. Heck no! I must have some sort of amazing relationship where I do not require permission from my husband to be me. He knows that this job actually serves our partnership better. He really enjoys being stable, in one spot. He was born and raised in one town. Being raised in a family that moved continuously, this job gives me the opportunity to see different places, uproot and go without moving our address. Isn’t that a balance that every family would want? Complete understanding. He’s an amazing dad. And if you’re worried about the cooking and doing laundry, picking up kids and all the other things… sorry to surprise you but he already did that!
That brings us straight into doubting my husband….
“How do you make sure they’re okay while your gone?” Okay? okay? What does that mean? Is that referring to being fed? If it is, trust me I can’t remember the last time my husband missed a meal, so I am pretty confident that they are all eating. Oh, does that mean bathed? Surprising enough, my husband can get the kids to bed and routine done no problem. This question has many forms, for instance: “Oh, your family must be lost without you!” Or the classic, “Isn’t that so hard on your family?” Actually, when I get home I’m more in confusion of the routine. I am out of the loop on breakfast of choice that week. Heaven forbid I put out a cereal that wasn’t decided on the night before, when I wasn’t home. My five year old will let me know. What does that mean, are they okay? Is that talking about feelings? We don’t dwell on it much. We don’t see the point in making people upset. Why would we build confusion where there is no reason for it? Plus when all else fails and people need to see each other, technology has come a long way. My husband and I discuss the impacts it might have on his week, but let’s be honest – He’s a champ and my kids are in fantastic hands.
“You must be so lonely!” Oh man, this must be a joke! Have they been in my house recently? It is basically a tornado. I actually feel more sorry for my husband that he has no way to turn the volume down in the house! In comparison to my quiet hotel room or the long drive home from another location, my house is insane. I’m not lonely when I’m on a work trip, especially if other people are there and we get to go out together. After 2 Sake Bombs deep, ask me how lonely I am! I have way more of an opportunity to get out and meet up with people, network and build relationships when I’m away for work than when I’m at home. This comment often morphs into a debate over how much I miss my family. Because obviously, if I’m actively making a choice to leave home for work, I probably do not miss my family. When did being able to relax in peace and quiet start defining how much I miss my kids? It’s harder to take time for myself and meet up with coworkers during a week at home. The hotel room can be quiet at night, but when did that start getting confused with lonely? I’ll tell how lonely I am after a 40 minute, uninterrupted, bath in my hotel room.
“Aren’t you afraid you’re missing everything?” I’m not afraid I’m missing everything. I am actually proud that I’m adding a perspective to my sons’ lives. They have an opportunity to see that women don’t have to be around 24/7 for a home to function. I’m never going to be the mom that can take off every day for a field trip, but I’ll see if I can get a few in. My husband and I get to balance school functions and activities. Why should I feel bad that I’m not available to help out at school every time, or see every soccer game? This is a question that all working mom’s, traveling or not, seem to get. Stop Asking! We chose the jobs we did because we like it. Some of us do it for money, some for development, but aren’t we missing everything. Sometimes, working gives us opportunities for our families that maybe would have never been an option.
This leads us to:
“How does that make your kids feel?” If I made every decision based on how it made my kids feel, I’d be eating ice cream every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We would be sleeping at the zoo so we could see when the bears wake up this year. Personally, they don’t care I work away from home. I work, that’s what they know. We don’t dwell on the situation as something out of the norm. If every time I left for three days I asked my five year old how it made him feel I would get one of two answers. When do you leave or where are you going? It makes no difference to him because he is taken care of. He knows that to get things in life you have to work hard regardless of where that job is. This question can often be a two parter, almost leaning into my relationship with my children. I do not work away from home because I hate being with my kids. I love being around my children! Working away from home allows me to grow as a person and be the best mom I can be! Travelling for work doesn’t define my ability to build a relationship with my kids. We balance out our family activities, he spends time with his dad and with me. My son doesn’t think it’s hard without me or feel bad, because there is no reason to. Since early on, my son has not been the child that cried when I left him in someone else’s care. Does that mean I’m a bad mom? No. I’d like to think it’s balance. And, again, if either of my boys need to see me to tell me what dinosaurs they played with that day, I’m only a FaceTime away.
Stop asking questions or making comments that force Moms to justify their career choices.
Challenge to see if that same question or comment would ever come up if you were talking to a man.
Maybe ask, what it is about the job that makes you love it?