Surprise A Day While Mommy's Away


Playing the role of a traveling mom is hard. Playing the role of a traveling wife is hard. But playing the role of the husband to the traveling mom and wife? It's probably harder.


Now don't mistake the reference hard as something I dislike. I love my job. I love traveling for my job. Loving it, however, doesn't take away the difficulty of leaving a pretty cute little 2.5-year-old, and pretty great guy I like to call Husby.


Last year my trips were proably the hardest on me. The guilt over what I was missing in Adelyn's ever-changing personality, the guilt over the things Husby was picking up the slack on while I was gone, the guilt over the guilt of still loving my job despite the guilt (say that five times fast). I was pretty hard on myself in a lot of respects.


But this year my trips seem to be the hardest on Adelyn. She's old enough now to understand that I'm gone, and she's old enough now to actually cry a sad cry at this notion. This now makes life harder on Husby. And me.


As my travel season picks up, I've been picking my brain at ways to show Adelyn I'm there without really being there. Let me tell you that first and foremost, FaceTime is the most amazing tool for traveling parents. We all feel so much more connected when I can visually show my surroundings, and Adelyn never fails to ask me to seek out every color plane I can find at the airport for her.


I've had people--friends, even--ask me how I can love a job that takes me away from my family. Since that question seems to be popping more lately, let me explain this to everyone all at once.


My dad traveled through my entire childhood and beyond. He was a Senior Research Scientist for Kimberly-Clark (so you know those Little Swimmers you put on your kiddos every summer? Yep, his name is on the patent list of inventors), which meant he traveled all.over.the.world. He would be gone for three weeks at a time in South Korea.


Where am I going with this?


Despite my dad traveling, I never remember feeling like he wasn't there. He called us every night and took time to talk to all three girls and my mom. He waited patiently on the other end of the line as we rambled (THREE daughters, can you imagine the rambling?) about our day. If we had gotten into trouble? You had better believe my mom had us admit our faults to him over the phone. And together they parented us. One from across the world.


If he was gone over a birthday he had a grand gesture done for us at school. I still remember the ice cream sundae looking bouquet of pink carnations he sent me, I think in 3rd grade?. He sent us postcards that often didn't get to us until he was home because he was just that far away. When he was home he made it to every.single event any of us were in.


Tennis matches, track meets, school concerts; you name it, he was there no matter what. He managed to stay connected in a time when technology was not advanced.


So back to the point. I continue to travel because I know that as long as I continue to also take my role as a mother as seriously as I should, my relationship with Adelyn won't be hurt by my travel. Especially since I travel significantly less than my dad did, and technology is so much farther ahead. FaceTime? Yes, I love it.


Ok, on to the actual reason for this post. Now that it's harder on Adelyn that I'm leaving, I'm able to put to use some ideas I've found to help her feel connected with me even while I'm not physically there. This is an idea I found back when I was pregnant on that handy social tool we all love called Pinterest. I tiered the messages to fit Adelyn and my relationship, but took the idea to leave a little notecard for her to open every day I'm gone.


This method is giving Adelyn a visual idea of when I'm coming home. Even though she's getting better at understanding "yesterday" and "tomorrow", she definitely just referred to something that happened around Christmas as happening yesterday.

On top of my travel, we just moved into our new house not even two weeks ago. That's a lot of change for a toddler, so I was afraid that adding a missing Mom to the equation might put her over the edge. These little notes are just as much for Husby as they are for Adelyn; a means to an end if you will. An end to the constant whining that he might otherwise be crucified with.

I wasn't going to tell her about the notes before I left. I wanted it to be a surprise when she woke up Sunday morning, and I also knew that if Husby had something to get her excited about that his day would start out much less...dramatic. {If you've experienced the drama showdown of a 2 1/2-year-old before you know just how much he'll appreciate this}.

BUT, leave it to a sneaky little toddler to find them in my laptop bag Saturday afternoon. So before she went to bed that night I explained the process. To say she was excited to get her own note every day I'm gone was an understatement.

Since she loves both princesses and stickers, an extra set of friends for the day seemed like a good way to start off her morning.

I don't know what it is about toddlers and money, but a couple of jingles and it's like a moth to a flame. She and I have recently been practicing the names of each coin, so having her go over them with Daddy creates a proud moment for her, but still reminds her of something we do together.

She's going through a phase right now where she wants to do everything I do. Whether it's a braid in her hair or walking around the house in a pair of my heels (which may be the cutest thing on the planet), she gets really excited when she's "like mommy". I'm hoping that bringing her in on something I'm doing while I'm gone will make her feel extra special.

Adelyn's in a big hand holding stage right now. She wants to hold my hand just walking from one room in the house to another, or even when we're watching a movie. She also loves to trace her hands and feet. She asks me to trace her foot on the bathtub wall roughly 20 times per bath.

I'm in Vegas this week, so there were no good flights home. That means I'll literally be pulling into our driveway in the wee hours of Friday morning. But since she won't know that, she'll just know I'm there when she wakes up, she gets to believe I'll be home on Thursday.

I'm probably most excited about this card because this girl really likes to tell you about the things she does. It gives her an opportunity to talk about her week with Daddy, and also for me to get a glimpse at the things she thought were big moments in the week. And sometimes her idea of "big moments" are thoroughly entertaining.

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© 2013 by Heather Anders : Meet Me on the Intersection of Richmond & Style.