Mothers and travelling away for work

(125 Posts)
Portofino Mon 28-Nov-11 19:57:42

I used to be the main earner. When DH and I both faced redundancy (we worked for same company) he applied for - and got - an inter company transfer abroad. We moved and I found another job quite quickly. But he had been able to negotiate really good terms so his salary overtook mine. He has also been promoted and has to travel quite a bit. His take home pay is about 1/3 higher than mine - but he has greater responsibility.

I have worked for the same - very family friendly - company for the last 5 years. Dd was 2 when I started and is now 7. It has worked very well - DH has been free to travel and I have had lots of flexibility to work round that, leave earlyish to collect dd and work from home in the evening when necessary and when she is sick etc. As DH is 11 years older and only 11 years from retirement age I have been happy to support this - the more he can earn now the better his pension etc.

Recently though I am aware that my career has stalled a bit and I am bored - so I have been looking out for other opportunities. I now have a 2nd round interview with a HUGE company which I am excited about. BUT - this job would involve at least 2 x 2 weeks trips to the US each year and limited travel - maybe once/twice a month in Europe. There will also be evening telecons which might mean I have to stay late - go back to the office.

I feel SO guilty! I have rarely left dd for any length of time. I have been there to collect her from the after school club forever. I have only ever been away from her for a couple of nights at the most. DH does stuff like this ALL the time - I know he doesn't feel bad about it. We can probably co-ordinate MOST of the time so he would be home - but we can't guarantee this. I would probably have to organise some outside help....

I haven't even got the bloody job yet but I feel so torn! Why is so hard for ME to contemplate 2 weeks in the US when I am jealous of DH when he has gone to NY for the same time....I feel like BAD MOTHER for even thinking about it.

omaoma Mon 28-Nov-11 22:49:31

btw i know someone in a marriage where BOTH have a very high flying job and travel all the time. admittedly they have an aupair. maybe something like that, that could provide the continuity and freedom you need, would work for you?

BerthaPappenheim Mon 28-Nov-11 23:07:47

This may not be territory you want to explore here and now, but you say your mother died when you were young. Might you be projecting some of your own sense of loss onto your dd in relation to your travel, feeling that you would be leaving her as you were left? I can imagine that a loss like that - well, there is no loss like that - would colour your feelings about going away from your dd.

Portofino Mon 28-Nov-11 23:12:59

Yes - I COULD see an au pair in this. We have space for one. But I guess this is where I get into Mum OR Dad hold the fort, verses the hired help. Not being Xenia, and growing up on a council estate with working class family, this is totally outside my experience.

So normally with planning, one of us could be here, though dh thinks school run might be an issue (if he got dressed earlier he could manage this and fulfill his contracted hours). But with BOTH of us working for US companies and late meetings......I don't want dd to suffer.

trixymalixy Mon 28-Nov-11 23:23:08

If you want and need the job then go for it!!! Everything else will work out.

If it's not working then at least you will know you tried it and not always wonder what if. Children are resilient, I like the Skype suggestions.

Portofino Mon 28-Nov-11 23:28:05

Bertha - I think you make a very good point there. I was 4 when my mum died, so I don't even know what normal family dynamics are. My dsis and I were brought up by my maternal GPs with visits with/to my dad. My GP's were great but were strict/old fashioned. My dd is 7 and I have already discussed more with her then they ever did with me.

I guess I don't KNOW what a normal mother/daughter relationship should be like! That has shocked me a little. And brought a tear to my eye. And there is me talking of au pairs.....

omaoma Mon 28-Nov-11 23:28:14

au pairs sound fancy, but it's just like taking on an extra employee to help out when your business is busy. your 'business' is your family. if you are big and clever enough to do an international job, you can manage to recruit someone you like with the right experience who can help you run your house and take a load off you rmind.

presumably you wouldn't refuse to take on an extra person in your office if it got too much to handle by yourself???

as my friend said, she's gone from having good childcare to having a much-loved, trustworthy friend and family member - and one who absolutely makes sure everything runs as smoothly as it would have had one of the parents stayed at home. there are always last-minute xyzs that you need an extra pair of hands, a short-notice babysitter etc etc for. don't cut off your nose to spite your face!

omaoma Mon 28-Nov-11 23:28:58

i would also point out that you didn't expect your DH to do all the family stuff when he was the big pooh-ba - YOU did the family stuff for him to support that. why would you try to cope without a homehelp yourself, knowing how much work it is?

Portofino Mon 28-Nov-11 23:40:47

DH does the family stuff when he is here. We have a cleaner already and he is HAPPY for me to go for this. But I think it is still me that agonises over changing a nice simple life for something more complicated , but more fulfilling for me. I guess this is why I posted this in feminism vs relationships or parenting. Though actually I am not sure if this a feminist issue.....I want to do something for ME that will in fact negatively impact on the rest of the family.

I think you need to objectively assess whether it would actually be a negative impact on the rest of the family.

So your DH might have to rearrange his schedule sometimes -- he's a grown man, he can handle it! And you might have to go away once in a while or work late sometimes -- honestly, your DD will be fine. These will be momentary disturbances, not a huge negative impact.

I think it is sort of a feminist issue in that you are assuming your job would have a negative impact but your husband's doesn't.

As you assess this, be sure to remember all the positives that would come from this as well.

HazleNutt Tue 29-Nov-11 09:06:52

Do it. It sounds like a lot of travelling, but I do more than this and it does not feel like a lot over the whole year. It might also be possible to take those late conf calls from home - our mother company is in US and that's what we do. Your DD wil be fine and very proud of your career when she grows up.
Yes, get an au-pair so you don't have to panic when you both have important meetings and DD gets sick.
Good luck!

Himalaya Tue 29-Nov-11 09:35:15

Blancheingham: "[love doesn't mean] never being able to go away, but that good relationships can take some coming and going, and that families are places where adventures start and end, not what stops you traveling. " Love it! (maybe because i've got a big trip coming up so starting to feel the travel nerves/motherly guilt..)

Portofino - going away is hard at first, but it gets easier (for you, for him, for DCs..) And it is good to be able to travel and be an adult, and stretched again at work. I would say go for it.

I don't think I would take up Omaoma's suggestion of inventing too much parenting-from-afar routine. Trust that your dd and dh can cope without you and let them get on with it for a bit (I don't mean don't phone, but don't overcompensate more than your DH does when he goes away).

On the other hand if you can do late evening conference calls/webex etc... at home that makes life (a bit) easier and is worth doing.

vixsatis Tue 29-Nov-11 09:39:40

You will feel guilty; but in the long term it will be worth it, plus think about those lovely peaceful flights watching the film with a glass of wine, big hotel bed with crispy sheets all to yourself, shopping in NY......

MooncupGoddess Tue 29-Nov-11 09:50:06

My mother went back to work full time as an academic when I was nine, and did a fair bit of travelling to conferences etc after that. I used to love hearing her travellers tales' and seeing what she brought back for us. If she went away for more than a week my grandmother would come to help out (my father was not very domestic hmm) so I would get to enjoy my granny's cooking and write letters to my mother about what was going on.

Looking back I really admire my mother for picking up her career again - she was a great role model and I think it was much better for her than focusing her lives entirely around us (which I would have found quite constricting).

Takver Tue 29-Nov-11 10:42:08

I think this is totally a feminist issue - you are worrying about you doing it as dd's mother, whereas you were very happy for your DH to do it as her father.

On a completely practical note ignoring the feminist aspects - I have a 9 y/o, and while 2 years ago I would have struggled with being away so much, it seems to me that children mature and grow up enormously from about 7 / 8 onwards and all of a sudden friends, school, outside activities really do start to take on a greater importance in their life. So to me it would be very different leaving an 8 y/o for 2 weeks with her dad who potentially might have late meetings & therefore need to rely on hired help, as compared to leaving a 6 y/o.

Porto - I haven't read all the posts (on my phone) so I hope I'm not repeating people.

I seem to not have the guilt gene about going to work and the commitments required from that so I hope I don't come across as unsympathetic. When I was 9 I changed to a new school and my Mum was away with work for my first day. Recently she told me how guilty she felt about this. I on the other hand hadn't really given it a moment's thought. In fact I felt it was a "special" time with me and my Dad which were few and far between. I also remember feeling a certain amount of excitement that my Mum was doing a new job too at the same time I was going to a new school.

So personally I think that this is an opportunity for your DD to have quality or some uninterrupted time with her Dad rather than time away from you. Hope that makes sense!

I would also ask yourself why you feel guilty and your DH doesn't. Would he enable you to work away in the same way that you have enabled him, for example? Because whichever way you dress it up you made career choices to enable his career. Maybe the guilt comes from the fact that you feel your DD may be losing out because he won't provide the same level of care you do when he is away? I.e. He isn't enabling your career in the same way you are enabling his?

turkeyboots Tue 29-Nov-11 13:15:25

Any reason you can't do the evening teleconferences from home? It's not uncommon when working across different time zones. Avoids having to go back into the office.

I don't work away from home very often (3 or 4 times a year) and only for a few nights, but DH does 4 10 day trips a year. He finds it hard to go, but is fine once he's there. And DC always get presents when he's back, so they think it's a great treat. And I see no reason why I couldn't do the same. Would feel bad about going on holiday without the DC's, but not about work travel.

Bonsoir Tue 29-Nov-11 13:24:19

Portofino - I know mothers with much extensive work-related travel than your proposed job is asking, and long hours. TBH, the very best situation is if you can fly a family member over (grandmother) to cover for you when you are away for a week. Alternatively, does your DD have a friend whose parents would be prepared to have her to stay for a cash payment from time to time?

BerthaPappenheim Tue 29-Nov-11 13:27:05

Portofino, I didn't for a moment think that you didn't know what a mother-daughter relationship was like - of course you do, you are the mother of a daughter who loves you and with whom you are happy. I was just thinking that given how much our experience as children shapes our parenting and the parenting to which we aspire, losing your mother at 4 would increase your anxiety about the idea of leaving your daughter. You might then suggest that by not leaving her, you would pass this anxiety down to the next generation, or you might conclude that because of your childhood bereavement, there are good reasons why you'd choose not to travel. I'm sure they're equally valid views, but being aware of the influence of your past might shape your decision-making.

I'd take the job. And, in the nicest possible way and having been there myself, I'd try to think a bit more about the idea that dh is less of a parent than I am.

Bonsoir Tue 29-Nov-11 13:30:49

I wouldn't leave my DD and DSSs on their own with DP for a week without some extra help because I am way too frightened of the backlog of laundry/shopping/homework/dustballs/holiday planning etc etc etc that would await me when I got back. That has nothing to do with DP being less of a parent than me (he isn't) and everything to do with him being far too busy to tackle a second job.

Portofino Tue 29-Nov-11 15:26:04

Don't have any "spare" family members to fly in - we're a bit short on grandmothers. The friend option might be doable on the odd occasion. DH would have to try and reorganise his diary for the longer trips wherever possible - he's not normally home til after 7pm, so he would have to do something to incorporate the school run - or we are back to Au Pair, or recruiting someone to collect dd from school everyday.

I don't think of him as less of a parent than me - though he can be a bit short tempered and impatient sometimes. He could manage the house perfectly well - I would worry a bit more about nutrition and getting her in the shower. grin But none of this is insurmountable I guess. It all comes down to how I FEEL about it in the end. I have to GET the job first grin

Bonsoir Tue 29-Nov-11 17:51:58

I have a friend (mother of friend of DD) who is a single mother. She does a lot of overseas business trips to complicated places with no internet access and always gets either her mother or her ex-mother-in-law to fly in to cover, even though she has a nanny and a housekeeper. I think it's important for at least one parent or grandparent to be physically in the country as much as possible, but I don't think it matters if you and your DH are both away together for the odd night or two. I do willingly help my friend out when she is travelling and she returns the favour for me - her DD doesn't mind her mother being away so much if she gets a nice sleepover/fun day at our house! Maybe you need to network among your DD's friends' parents? With only one DD yourself, it is easier to reciprocate playdates and sleepovers than if you had a lot of children.

SardineQueen Tue 29-Nov-11 18:10:43

Don't feel guilty.
Seeing you doing a job like this will be positive for your DD
She is 7 and old enough to understand
It's not that much travel in the scheme of things
You really sound excited about it
Go for it
Don't look back smile

SardineQueen Tue 29-Nov-11 18:11:44

Oh and WELL DONE for getting the second interview and GOOD LUCK I hope you get it smile

jellybeans Tue 29-Nov-11 18:15:16

I wouldn't do it, I couldn't be away that long. But it doesn't make you a bad mother at all. It's just up to the individual family/mother. If you are having doubts though I would be cautious and follow your instincts.

Portofino Tue 29-Nov-11 18:38:04

I don't see that much of dd's friends parents. The one I was closest to moved and they are all working. I do organise the odd sleepover and playdate with school friends, but normally at weekends dd plays with the neighbourhood kids or we meet with OUR friends and their families. I have a lovely friend with a dd at school in the same commune as dd who has collected from school and had her overnight. That might work for an occasional night but I don't want to impose too much. The neighbours' dds are at school in different areas.

I suppose this one of the reasons I posted in feminism. If dh CAN'T change his schedule - and this COULD happen and probably would - it is MY responsibility to sort an alternative. So much as he supports me in going for this role and much as he would try to work round me working late/abroad - if he had other commitments I feel they would take priority. Whereas now my priority is always dd over work, and I have been fortunate that I have had a career that has allowed me to do this so far. She should always be a priority to ONE of us at a time?

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