There are times when my comfort in stating that I am a full-time working mom is just not that great. I love what I do, I have a passion for it, but there can be pangs of guilt associated with it too. Usually when I travel or when I have to miss special events at school. I remember the first birthday of hers where I had to go into the office and couldn’t take the day off, she was two. It was a tough commute that morning for me. She was fine, didn’t know the difference. I was the one with the tears.
I have been traveling for the past week as a part of the work I do as co-founder of Pregnancy Awareness Month®. I have been across the country in Louisville at the annual ABC Child Expo. As a work experience, it has been fun and a wonderful networking opportunity. But I missed my kid and had waves of guilt. Does this ring true for any of you? For those of you pregnant with your first baby, what are your plans for your return to work? For the “traveling for working moms”, how are you managing the emotional preparation?
Last Friday, while walking to the hotel from the show, I was behind a man that was on his cell phone obviously talking to his child. Here is how it went: “No I’m the gross one, ok, your are grosser but my name is Mr. Gross. Oh, you are Mr. and Mrs. Gross? Well I have gross plus one more gross. Ok, you have gross with a cherry on top….” They were fully engaged in a game of saying they were more gross than the other. As it turns out, this dad was talking to his son and they have this silly yet sweet game which playfully connects them while he is on traveling rounds with his work.
My daughter and I have a heart exchange as a way to connect. She was 2 when I first left on a business trip. Here is our connective game: we put our hands over our hearts and close our eyes and think of each other. I tell her that when she does that, then I am there with her, in her heart. “Do you feel me?” I will say, “Yes, mommy, I feel your mama love.” We prepare for our separation by reminding each other of this ability, and during my absence when we talk on the phone we say it again. When I first arrived at the trade show I took a picture of me holding my heart and sent it to her. My husband said she sighed when she saw it that morning, and then ran off to her room to play before school.
What kind of ways do you reconnect with your young child? If you are pregnant, and haven’t been in this situation, yet, consider your method. Other ways I connected when she was pre-verbal was making drawings for her with little love notes for her and daddy to open when I was gone. Making a book of pictures of us doing things together that she could look at. Interested in your thoughts.
Alisa Donner, MSW, LCSW
Co-founder Pregnancy Awareness Month®