I’ve been working abroad for a week now. This is the longest I’ve been away from my family and there are still a few weeks to go. I’m having the BEST time and soaking up every inch of the experience, but at night, when it’s all quiet and I stop to actually think I get this dull ache that feels like I’m missing a limb (although I imagine that would probably hurt more than a dull ache) and I realise it’s cos I haven’t kissed my kids goodnight.
There are a few things I’ve learned as a mum working away this past week. I imagine there will be more lessons in the weeks to come, but for now this is it:
1. People will always judge mums for “leaving their kids”
The first lesson was an unwelcome shock. Even though we’re in 2018, apparently there are still some people who think it’s perfectly acceptable for dads to “go away on business”, but when a mum does it there’s a sudden gasp of breath.
The worst thing? All of the comments I’ve had – every single one – have been from other women. “No amount of money could make me leave my kids” was one personal favourite, which somehow assumed that by going away for work I was a) never coming back and b) doing something completely selfish that wasn’t 100% in the interest of my family. Sexism is alive and well.
2. You never get the missed moments back
Because of the nature of what I’m doing out here, I’m not able to be on my phone that much. It’s been enlightening. I’ve realised that at home, even though I’m often using my phone for work, I also sometimes use it as a distraction.
And while it’s lovely to be able to look back on all the photos I took of the little moments – trips to the park, playing with Lego, afternoons at the library – I wish I’d saved some of those moments just for me, without needing to bring my phone into the equation. When I get back, I’m definitely going to work on having better boundaries with my phone so I get to properly experience more of those gorgeous little moments with the girls.
3. It’s possible not to think about your family every second of the day
I work from home so much that I’m regularly surrounded by reminders of the children. A dropped crust of toast, forgotten piece of duplo or discarded pair of tiny socks is enough to prod me into thinking of my kids even if they’re at school or pre-school and I’m knee deep in a piece of work that requires my full attention.
Add that to the fact that so much of what I do involves talking about #mumlife it’s almost impossible NOT to think about my kids every second of the day (unless I’m halfway through a particularly gripping episode of Suits). But this isn’t always healthy. Having the distance of the past week has made me remember that I am more than a mum, and that it’s OK to grab an opportunity that forces me into forgetting my motherhood status every once in a while.
How are you all anyway? Update me – what have I missed since I’ve been gone (apart from the Royal wedding, obvs)?!
I just can’t wait to hear where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing! I can imagine it’s such a double edge sword of loving the freedom and missing them dearly.
You’re so right about the sexism thing. OH was away 2-3 nights a week, occasionally 4, for 14 months while he worked in Cumbria. We knew it would not be forever but people talked about it being harder on him than me. Then if I go away with work, people are shocked. I get that I work from home and he doesn’t but really? I don’t do it often – usually 1-2 weekends a year and the odd overnight as meetings dictate but everyone is more than capable of surviving without me. He doesn’t mind at all because he’s looked after his own children before. My mum was the worst offender at this.
Hope you are having a blast with your secret mission. I’m a teeny bit jealous but only in a way that I never get to go to such exotic looking locations!
Grandma from the north says
Strong insights Molly. Yes. I have not had my operation. Tom and Laurie are getting a puppy. I have turned down some exciting work abroad regrettably Steve has power washed all the pavements. So life goes on. We all move on everday . Enjoy your time. X