For This Divorced Mom, Traveling For Work Is No Big Thing
Some of you have seen the NY Times article about moms who travel for work. I’ve been traveling for work since I went back to work fulltime in March of 2007. (In fact, the first interview I had when I started looking ended with them offering me the job and asking if I could get on a plane for my first day in five days.)
Reading that article made me realize how much easier things are for divorced co-parents who share custody.
We’re already set up for one parent to be doing it alone for three days (the situation LOD and I have). Sometimes when I’ve traveled for work (and now that LOD is traveling some for work) the kids forget that we’re going somewhere and are surprised when I reference having been on a plane. To them, it was just their normal three days with their dad.
It also means that we don’t have to scramble to keep in touch by phone or Skype. When the kids are with their dad, I usually don’t make contact. I feel like it’s his time with them, and I shouldn’t be intruding. If they want to contact me, I’m very happy to talk to them, but I don’t want to pull them out of their world with him. If I’m on a trip that fits into his normal time, I don’t contact them while I’m away. Just because I feel far from home doesn’t mean that they are.
I realize that for some women, the idea that their children’s father could be a responsible parent who keeps track of everything and that they don’t have to plan their kids’ lives in detail or manage from afar is bizarre. And, quite honestly, if I had started traveling when LOD and I were still together I would have felt like I needed to be running things even while I was gone. I think that our culture pushes women to be the Great and Powerful Oz (as my AskMoxie.org readers nicknamed that part of you that has a running track in your brain that lets you know when everyone’s supposed to get their teeth cleaned) and encourages men to earn money and play dumb around the kids (see: Huggies ad).
But here’s one great gift divorce has given me (and my kids): when he was given the chance to be the primary parent during his alone time with them, LOD absolutely rose to the task. He’s a zillion times better dad now than he was when we were an intact family. When they’re with him, I never worry about anything (unless I realize I have info that he doesn’t have because I forgot to give it to him).
FWIW, I’ve seen this a lot. Men who really weren’t on top of things with the kids when they were married rise to the challenge to become stellar parents. (Of course, I also see the opposite, that some dads just fade away and use a divorce as an excuse to do less and act helpless. I’d argue that that’s a matter of basic character, though.)
Think about how great it is for our kids to see moms and dads being equally good at parenting. And moms and dads both traveling for work and making it be OK for the kids.
I try not to be all “Eff Yeah, Divorce!!!” here, because I know a lot of readers are in the early, painful stages and it sounds too much like not acknowledging loss. But seriously? There are some massive, massive family dynamic benefits to a) being happy, b) being who you really are, and c) just pulling your share without the power imbalance and psychic debt load of being married.
(I’d also like to give an enormous thank you to my mother, aka Grandma Jellyspoon, who is taking the kids for three straight days in a few weeks when I have school for an entire weekend and LOD will be at a conference for work. I can’t even express the difference it’s made in our lives to have back-up.)