I travel a lot for my job. Usually just to Los Angeles and back in the same day. Sometimes a night away in Los Angeles. Occasionally to other parts of the country. I can be a bit of a control freak and a fairly anxious person, so traveling doesn't bring out the best in me. Although, six and a half years into this routine, and I'm much calmer about things (like turbulence, keeping track of schedules, needing to check in the moment I land and the moment I'm about to take off) than I used to be. But, still. I'm always a bit more anxious that things will go awry when I'm away.
And then, last week, as I'm landing in Baltimore for a layover on my way to Albany, NY (yes, Baltimore -- the one that is on the East Coast. 6 hours of flying between me and home) I get a text from Eric asking for Alden's medical number and telling me he's on his way to daycare to pick Alden up because there was an accident at school and he needs stitches. ACK!! I'm in BALTIMORE. Alden cannot be going to the ER.
As soon as I landed, I started frantically calling Eric, who wasn't answering because he was in the car driving to the ER, and Alden's school, where the Director sounded beyond apologetic and frazzled by the whole thing.
Alden had been hit in the head with a metal hoe by another little kid. An accident, for sure. They're two. But, the metal hoes have since been done away with. And, she really got him. Apparently, there was quite a bit of blood. But, Joan said Alden handled it so well and stopped crying really quickly and let them clean him up, change his shirt and put ice on the wound while they called Eric.
Eric got him to the ER and they glued the wound shut and applied butterfly bandages. Alden has been totally unfazed by all of it.
But, it was traumatic for me. I was landing on the other side of the country. It was a Thursday morning and I wasn't due home until Saturday after bedtime. It was horrible to be so far away. It's the worst part of being a traveling/working mom. You miss out on a lot of moments -- I've missed trips in order to stay home for school plays and other events. But, I've also missed a lot of Back to School nights, performances, and other events. Not usually the big ones that are planned for, but as this injury demonstrated, sometimes the big ones that are unplanned.
Alden has been to the ER FOUR times in the last year and a half. For pneumonia (which he has had 3 times, but only the once that required hospitalization), a burn, a concussion, and now a deep cut. I'm not sure if it's the boy factor of the second child factor, but it definitely makes me feel like a bad mom. And, it makes getting on the plane for each trip that much harder. Because it's hard to be away and not know what's going to happen while I'm gone.
But -- I cannot control what happens even when I stay home. And, I like my job. A lot. And it's good that I like it so much because being on the road gets to be so tiring and I do feel like I miss out on all sorts of things. It also just makes it harder to stay connected to our community here because when I'm home, I'm always playing catch up with work, chores, shopping and other household things. It's hard to make time to see people and be social -- especially when I'm not naturally inclined towards being social.
When we first moved here, we were doing a pretty good job. But, my travel schedule this year had been a lot more demanding and I've found that I have less energy to spend the more limited moments I have at home socializing.
Another friend of mine that travels a lot says that it's all about the OLP rule -- One Loving Parent. We provide back up to one another and there's never an event that we both miss out on. Last week, Alden had OLP on duty to attend to him. It was hard not being there -- but, it would be impossible without having a partner there alongside me. Still, it was the worst travel day ever.