I have been over to Red Neck Mommy's blog and she has written a great post about parents who work away from home to make a living. I love the fact that she mentions that parents who are away miss the 'quick and dirty' of family life. It's a great way of explaining it. A couple we know are divorcing and they have four kids of different ages. The husband explained that what he misses is exactly that: ' the quick and dirty'. The mundane, the magic unexpected moments, the not magic difficult moments. The kids stay with him but they don't live with him. It is just different.
I am no stranger to this situation which is why it resonates so much with me. My mum and dad were never really away for me. I can't remember them being away other than once when my mum looked after my cousin. I remember being calmed and excited that I had dad and he was promising treats and a change of routine to distract me, but I felt an emptiness and distractedness. I just wasn't used to it. Full stop.
However, things have been different for the teenager. When we first got married I was a training consultant used to working away in hotels in different venues most of the week. Once I had the baby boy ( pretty much nine months after we got married- honeymoon baby) I knew my routine had to stop. However, I was the main earner at that time ( other half worked and also helped me with back up in the business) and we had a lot of bills to pay. We had given up our jobs to start a new life in the Lake District. Now we had a baby. Self employed and not maternity leave. I worked until the day before he was born ( he was early by two weeks) and I went back four weeks after he was born. It was hell. But needs must. First time I had to go away I cried for two and a half hours en route.
But we made it work. I only stayed away two nights a week. I got sleep. Heh Heh. Other half did all the nappies and night feeds when I was away and developed a bond with the little fellow which is stronger than steel. Two peas in a pod. Teenager worships his dad. I am sure it has so much to do with those early years. My mum and dad who lived in the North East at the time had us to stay lots when I was working with my main North East customer. They developed a strong and loving bond with teenager, they loved looking after him, and it left other half free to work. Then they sold up and moved over, and my problems dissolved. We now had a brilliant childminder, and mum and dad as back up. They had him a lot and he loved it. And I was calm.
For quite a few years this arrangement stayed in place. I would still travel but kept to my two night rule except in very exceptional circumstances. I had good back up when I did go and I am forever grateful for that. I was confident in his carers and I could concentrate on my work. I found it tiring to drive so far, but sometimes I got a lovely rest and some time out on my own. Was I guilty. Oh yes- as hell. I am over it now. I see we did a good job. But at the time it was so hard and other people's opinions weren't always helpful. A woman travelling away to earn a living when she had a child? Shocking. But needs must and life goes on.
In January 2007 I was diagnosed with cancer and went off sick for ten months. It was really tough. Other half had to move into position and run the business including front of house work. By then he worked full time for our business which was really well established. He trained hard to get qualifications and experience. He just got out there and did it. He developed a team to support our work. When I came back things were different and my own life was less pressurised but I went back to being away. By now though my spirit and body were weak. I was finding the pace tough. In March 2010 I was diagnosed with a re-occurance of the cancer. I immediately went off sick and have been off ever since. I nearly lost my life- and now at the grand old age of forty six I have retired. No more work or travelling for me. Enough is enough. The career girl has hung up her driving gloves.
As a result I am here at home all the time except when I go for hospital checks. I see teenager every day. I am here to sort him out. He is as needy now as when he was a little boy but differently. It's now to do with food and getting kit ready and encouraging him with the much loathed English ( Northanger Abbey at the moment). It's about being here and listening. I love it and see how precious it is. It is a real luxury. It makes up for early years and I still can steal lots of hugs.
And now- other half travels away. Sometimes too much. In fact recently I have given him a red card and asked him to have a few weeks just in the office and near home. I want him around for me, and for teenager. Last year proved how important it is to stay connected. You do what you do and sometimes it is hard. The key is to notice and manage the impact. It is odd as the roles have reversed and I am happy to be just a mum who sometimes goes out to coffee with other mums to chew over the latest gossip.
Great post Red Neck Mom, and I amazed to see how many folk are in the same boat.