Thursday, January 22, 2009

the saddest sound in the world

A phone conversation from a few days ago:

Me: "Hi sweetheart, its mummy. I miss you darling"
Geekygirl, in teeny tiny voice: "Mummy?"
Me: "I miss you. I love you. I wish I could give you a big hug right now."
Geekygirl, with a tiny sob, "Mamma?"
Me. " I'll be back on Sunday. Today is Wednesday, so there is Thursday, Friday, saturday and then I'll be back"
Geekygirl "Mummy."

Yes, work and motherhood clash again. I'm away at a conference for the week, and Geekygirl is really missing me. I've travelled before, of course, but not for so long, and when she was too young to be able to express her sadness. Geekybaby seems to be doing much better, his routine is the same, he is getting fed, which is his highest priory in life, though no doubt he is a little confused as to where that lovely mummy person has got to. I am torn in two, enjoying the beautiful location and the skiing (I’m in Banff, Canada, a truly spectacular place), and learning about exciting developments in my field (diabetes), but feeling guilty about leaving my little ones, and leaving my husband to cope alone.

But, as I keep telling myself, it is important both for my company and my personal career growth that I am able to be here. I am so grateful that I have the complete support of Geekdaddy. Books I’ve been reading lately, such as Flux, by Peggy Orentstein and Get To Work, By Linda Hirschman, point out that one of the things holding back women when it comes to equality in the workplace is inequality at home. Workplaces are generally pretty egalatarian places now, mine certainly is, but apparently it is the rare household where two parents work, and also fairly share the burdens of managing the family. I am so very fortunate that I was able to say to my bosses "yes, I can go to this conference and present my team's work". Imagine the opposite, I decided not to go, either fearing the household couldn't cope without me, or I was discouraged from going by my husband, and simply by this omission, this inactivity, I would have missed out this great opportunity to learn about the latest breakthroughs in my field, and on crucial networking opportunities. If I hadn’t gone, when new projects are seeking leaders in the future, I would probably be overlooked, because my ability to travel and to represent that project would be in question.

I go home tomorrow, I’m getting up at 4.30am to catch the first flight I can, and I can’t wait to be back with everyone. But it has been a wonderful trip, and after some science, skiing and spa treatments, I’m rejuvenated, and ready to be mummy extraodinaire


followthatdog said...

It is hard to keep that reasoning in mind when your little kids are on the other side of that phone telling you how much they miss you. Though on this last trip I took, the boys took turns telling me knock knock jokes instead. Either they don't miss me, or they know I always come back. I like to think it's the 2nd one.

DulwichDivorcee said...

Heartrending! I do feel for you. Mine were the same - now they beg me to go out so they can lark about with the cool teenage babysitter ....DD

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