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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.

Yama Mon 28-Nov-11 20:05:46

I don't know what the answer is. I don't have to go away for work but if I did, I wouldn't feel guilty about leaving the dc - more guilty for leaving dh with it ALL to do.

Dh and I are a team with the attitude that everything we do is to lighten the load of the other.

I would miss them terribly though.

Would your dd be as happy with her Dad for two weeks as she is with you?

madwomanintheattic Mon 28-Nov-11 20:05:46

it's just change, which is always worrisome. grin <pointedly ignores cultural pressure>

dd will be fine. dh and i did this for a bit (i usually sahm but go through periods of v ft work) and i found it useful to have a childminder that was contracted to provide overnight care when we needed it. i think in the event we only used it a couple of times, for one night each, as dh picked up the slack.

good luck though, it sounds like just the challenge you need!

feministcrashdummy Mon 28-Nov-11 20:13:25

You need to be thinking about your own pension not just his. Take the job. Dd won't love you less. It will give them a chance to spend some quality father/daughter time.
You have nothing to feel guilty about.

BlancheIngram Mon 28-Nov-11 20:23:51

I travel a lot for work. Dh is sahp. I won't pretend I don't feel guilty (as well as utterly adoring being able to sleep until an hour before a meeting, have a bath in the morning and read crime fiction for hours in the airport), but I do think that this - and most other - kinds of maternal guilt are a political issue. I find it helpful to think about what I'm modelling to the kids; not that love means 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 travelling. We've always been matter-of-fact about it and, at the beginning, when they were toddlers and it used to make me cry to leave them, I cried on the way to the airport, not at home. And despite those tears, I'm really glad I have a job I enjoy, where I find self-respect and independence and validation outside the domestic world, and I'm really glad they're growing up seeing that men and women can travel and that fathers make good carers. Given how counter-cultural it is for a mother to take her career seriously, it's bound to hurt a bit. That's how you know it's good politics.

Portofino Mon 28-Nov-11 20:26:16

I don't feel guilty about leaving dh in charge grin more the effect it would have on dd. And I would miss her terribly but yes - my own pension (currently in a better state than dh's) is important. And my career! If stay coasting where I am I think I will find it increasing hard to change - companies don't want OLD people!

BlancheIngram Mon 28-Nov-11 20:28:35

What would you want dd to do in the same position?

trixymalixy Mon 28-Nov-11 20:31:25

I travel abroad for work approx once a month. I really enjoy a couple of nights away from the kids!!

NormanTebbit Mon 28-Nov-11 20:35:34

I think 7 is old enough for her to rationalise this change. It will give her the chance to spend more time with dad. Have you talked to her about it?

Portofino Mon 28-Nov-11 20:47:58

Not yet - I haven't got the job yet. I will chat about it with her this week. But I want to go to the interview sure in my own mind that we as a family can cope with what it entails. With regards with what I would want dd to do - I would want her to max her opportunities - but not neglect any children she might have. It's about balance in my eyes. Mum Dad and children's needs all need to be taken in account. Trixy - with this job I would be away for 2 weeks at a time.....

When I said to dd that I had a interview, she told me I wasn't allowed a new job as my current one gets her cheap holidays. She has been away to the seaside/Ardennes/Pony riding at a vastly reduced cost. I know she can manage without me for a week.....but .....

CMOTdibbler Mon 28-Nov-11 21:01:08

It works for us - I do at least a week away a month, and in the conference season its more. DS is 5, and accepts it quite happily.

DH and I work our diaries round each other - I know my long trips a long way in advance, and apart from robust school based care the only help is our cleaner who will do the odd bit of babysitting for us

BarfTheHeraldAngelsHeave Mon 28-Nov-11 21:10:47

I don't know what the answer to this one is. I travel for work and the worst time was the first time I went, but after that we all take it in our stride. Being a working mother is a long list of compromises when it comes to it. I make sure I give them plenty of attention when I get back and I really enjoy a quiet night alone in a hotel with a large glass of wine grin.

It is annoying though that as a working mother you do seem to be attacked by more guilt for travelling away than you do as a man.

trixymalixy Mon 28-Nov-11 21:54:46

I thought the 2 week trips were only twice a year?

How long would the monthly trips be?

Portofino Mon 28-Nov-11 21:56:13

I've always worked full time - so rationalised THAT one long ago. I wonder if girls of a certain age need their MUM as opposed to their dad more. Mine died and my dad was always slightly remote so I don't know the answer to this . I never really reached out to anyone. I don't want the same for dd.

Since she reached Primary age, she is exploring the world a lot more - I love our chats. We discuss bodies, astronomy, religion, friends, girl stuff etc etc. I try to be a strong role model and stress the importance of education and being healthy. I suppose I have a view on what messages I want her to grow up with. I worry about making myself LESS available to her as she approaches puberty - I am not sure that DH, lovely though he is, will even think about these things.... He can be a bit of an old fart at times.

Portofino Mon 28-Nov-11 21:57:43

trixy - sorry - the 2 week trips ARE twice a year. The others would be a couple of days at a time.....But also due to telecons late working in the office.

omaoma Mon 28-Nov-11 22:01:16

come on, this can be exciting for her to! she's old enough to be interested in a little bit of non-mummy independence, she'll get to spend time with dad looking after her and they can have lots of fun inventing new bits of family time that only happen when you're away <and you don't know about...!> set up a skype account, do a bedtime story blog with her where she suggests what happens next and you add to it each night you're away. start buying her a collection of tat that you add to after each trip. get her to see you being dashing and adventurous and full of energy whenever you get back and she'll enjoy the new routine and be inspired by what mummys can do.

omaoma Mon 28-Nov-11 22:03:50

x-post with you OP - i don't think emotional availability is necessarily about always being there physically. it's about really listening and putting the time in when she needs a friendly ear. you can do that as well as being away 4 weeks of the year.

teatimesthree Mon 28-Nov-11 22:04:59

Great post by BlancheIngram - I agree with all of it.

Go for it, Porto.

Yama Mon 28-Nov-11 22:06:13

Yes, I think that was what I was getting at when I asked ifyour dd be as happy with her Dad for two weeks as she is with you.

My eldest child is a 6 year old girl and all the things you discuss with your dd, my dh discusses with her. He has been better able to deal with the difficult questions (death, procreation etc) than me. Ds dotes on his Dad too so I know they'd be fine without me.

Maybe you going away will be a good thing for their relationship.

trixymalixy Mon 28-Nov-11 22:07:56

From what you have said so far about the job, the amount of time away doesn't sound that bad to me. However, what is coming across to me in your posts is that you don't really want to do it. I know you have posted in the feminism topic, but there is nothing wrong with wanting to be there for your children and putting them before your ambitions.

It doesn't sound to me like this is the right job for you, and I'm a great believer that the right thing comes along eventually, you just have to be patient and keep looking. I would however go to the interview as it will be great practice, you may not get it, in which case you can feel relieved that it wasn't the right thing. If you do get it it will be a massive confidence boost even if you do turn it down.

gaelicsheep Mon 28-Nov-11 22:12:29

I wouldn't do it personally. I won't even do overnight stays let alone trips abroad without my DCs. But then mine are still little. I may feel differently in years to come - who knows.

omaoma Mon 28-Nov-11 22:14:16

... i wonder if the issue might be that you have internally labelled DH's style of parenting 'bad parenting', even tho (or because) you are envious of it. you sound like you gave up a lot to become the primary carer with a downgraded career, was this a way of justifying that to yourself, that you were doing parenthood the 'right' way? so taking on that style yourself, puts you in the 'bad' camp, even tho it's what you've been wishing for.

you also call DH an old fart and worry he won't be able to parent your DD as well as you - like you don't trust him as a parent, as well as being worried about the mum-daughter thing? not really any wonder you are torn. i still think you should take the job, but maybe you need to unpick a bit of this in the meantime otherwise you'll always be wishing you were somewhere else, wherever you are, and hassling DH while you're away instead of letting him bond with DD.

dreamingbohemian Mon 28-Nov-11 22:20:58

I like omaoma's approach! With modern technology you can totally make this a fun experience for your DD -- you can skype every night, send photos of where you are, you could do a blog together. Naturally you can bring her back some cool gifts too smile.

Two weeks flies by so fast for kids.

Portofino Mon 28-Nov-11 22:46:17

I DO want the job though - it is a great opportunity for me and for my career. My ever growing feminist bit inside says I should grab it with both hands - I NEED it. I need the challenge and the opportunity. It would be great for ME. I guess since childbirth I have become used to being bottom of the pile. Dd - first always, then because of dh's promotion - him second. Then little old me, holding it all together. I do a good job of it. Life runs smoothly.

omaoma Mon 28-Nov-11 22:48:31

life can still go well! but it will clearly involve some change, and it may not be quite as smooth. that's not the end of the world. if anything, knowing how to cope with change and last-minute issues (and that it IS possible to cope with them) is an important skill for your DD to learn.

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