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On the Road Again: Life as a Traveling Career Mom

Traveling Mom

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I recently read an article on Scary Mommy about what it’s like to have a traveling husband. It was hilarious and filled with humor that only a parent of a traveling co-parent may fully understand. However as I sat and read the article I was somewhat shaken to my core.

You see in my family my husband isn’t the traveler. It’s me.

I’ll preface this by saying that I love to travel, I love my job, and I love being around my co-workers as often as I can. But with that comes a strong level of sacrifice that often hurts in a way that words can’t fully express. So here I am, expressing what it’s like to be on the other side as the traveler and not the one left behind. Feel free to share any tips or thoughts you have as well!

My first thought when on the road is….

1} Hey, hey you over there, are you a terrifying man about to murder or rape me?!

Sorry men. This is a bad title, but really, I just don’t trust you if I don’t know you. Especially if you’re tall or walking with a swagger of some sort! I’ve been very lucky to have seen lovely parts of the world, and visited cities that I could never dream to visit had my job not taken me there. But in reality, what you don’t know can really hurt you. There are a lot of scary stories out there and while I tend to be overly trusting and comfortable in my own surroundings (thank you VT), I constantly get that punch in the gut, that man is going to kill me feeling and walk (or run) faster. So as a traveling career mom my advice to you… GO BUY SOME PEPPER SPRAY!

2} Sleep is for the weak

This is my traveling mantra. I won’t lie. I LOVE the plush pillows and king size beds in hotel rooms. I probably look a bit like a Care Bear snuggled into my hotel bedding while embracing the full depth of sleep heaven. But in reality, I’m all snuggle and no sleep. No amount of sleep sounds, Tylenol PM, or lack of sleep from the previous red eye can get me to sleep through the night when I am away. I miss my kids. I hate the eerie feeling of not being able to hear them in the middle of the night. It’s some kind of psychological irony that when giveth the sleep we cannot taketh.

3} The HORRORS of Pumping and Flying

Seriously this is just the worst. In fact I have a whole other blog post I want to write about how to pump when you travel. Unless you are lucky enough to have a nursing station in your local airport (thank you BTV!) trust me and pay the daily upgrade for the president’s lounge. It’s the only way to get a clean and somewhat sanitary location to pump while on the road. I can’t count the number of times I have had to stand in the middle of a bathroom stall, drench my body, pump parts, and nipples in hand sanitizer, and turn on the dreaded pump (weee ooooo weee ooooo weee oooooo) for all bathroom recipients to hear. Some of the worst experiences were:

  1. Excusing myself from a business meeting full of 5 men to go pump in the bathroom. Carrying my little black “backpack” out with me, and disappearing for 10 minutes. Who knows what they thought I was up to in there…
  2. When I had to pump in the actual airplane and created a line of about 10 people deep while I awkwardly tried to configure and detach myself in the tiny stall.
  3. When I got in a fight with TSA about why I wouldn’t gate check my 30+ bags of milk that I was bringing back for my son. They didn’t believe me it was my milk since I didn’t have a kid with me…
  4. When the refrigerator died after day 3 of pumping milk and I lost many many many bags of liquid gold
  5. And my personal favorite: When I attached my pump in the conference room and started pumping away. Only to look down and realize the bottles were NOT attached and I was in fact pumping puddles of milk all over my nice business suit. Nice.

4} I can’t call home

As gender equal as I am, I envy my male colleagues when we travel together. When the clock strikes 7 they all tend to stand up, open their phones, and call their families to wish them nighty night. It seems to go well for them. They have conversations; talk about when they are coming home, and what they have been doing. For me, I can’t actually call home. It makes things worse. I may as well have slaughtered a litter of cute animals in front of my kids for the reaction I get when I pick up the phone. It just ends in everyone (myself and hubs included) getting overwhelmed and hanging up abruptly while screaming “SEE YOU IN 2 DAYS.” For now, I will settle for pictures of what they are up too and stare at those pictures like a lost puppy until I get home.

 5} Long @$$ work days + traveling the remaining hours of the day

Some days are 20-24 hour days between early morning flights, meetings, late night red eyes, and back to work the next day for more meetings. Coming home to the kids is always super awesome (holy crap they are missed) but also equally, if not more, exhausting. When traveling the most important thing I always recommend is to eat well, get some exercise, and down the airborne. The exhaustion of travel and work mixed with the exhaustion of parenting can equate to some serious travel colds being caught.

6} The guilt

Oh the guilt. Last time I was away for multiple days I came home to my 4 year old saying verbatim “Mommy, you went away. I couldn’t find you. I looked for you, but I couldn’t find you. You weren’t in my classroom, you left me.” He then repeated this for about 30 minutes.

**Cue the broken heart and sad violin music

All I could do is hold on tight and tell him how much I loved him.

As parents we all do our best to be the best parent we can. My story is the story of a traveling career mom and I love and embrace my story. I’m so very lucky my husband is also supportive and such a great dad when I’m gone. But don’t get me wrong, I love and miss my family every inch and every second that I am gone.

Are you a traveling parent? What experiences do you have that you would include?

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2 Responses to On the Road Again: Life as a Traveling Career Mom

  1. Tasha Lehman August 5, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    Tara, thanks for sharing this side of the story that we don’t hear about often from working, traveling moms! You are awesome! And I’m sorry for laughing so hard I spit out my coffee when reading the last pumping story…

  2. Tara Robertson
    Tara Robertson August 9, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    Thanks Tasha!! And don’t worry I spontaneously bust out laughing (often when I’m surrounded by people and I’m alone) at least once a month when I remember that story 🙂

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