This is how my morning started on Friday:
“Mom, I’m not eating any food from the fridge. And I’m not eating any food from the cabinet. So what should I eat for breakfast?”
It took me about 20 minutes to talk him into a bagel, with much angst and even a few tears. I used raisins and peanut butter to sell it, which we call Ants in the Mud. Cut to five minutes later and huge sobs:
“Mom!!! I only want to eat this if I can put the ants in the middle and bagels have HOLES in the middle! I can’t eat ANYTHING!”
John is brilliant at coming up with unsolvable problems, and I know why he was doing it on Friday: I had just been out of town. This happens like clockwork about a day after I get home. I think it’s his way of reminding me that I’m in the doghouse. So I’m going to need a lot of patience over the next few months.
As I just said, I’m going to be traveling more for my new job. I’ve always been fine (maybe too fine) with traveling a little bit for work, but it was always just that: a little bit. Now it’s looking more like every other week, and not for just one night at a time.
Matt and I had plenty of time to talk about this when we were considering possible job changes, and we both agree that it’s an unavoidable element of just about any job I’d consider. We live in a tiny town in the middle of Vermont. I’m not at all interested in working for Middlebury College (this town is small enough without all that), nor are we considering moving. So the reality of me working is that I’m going to be working remotely. And if I’m going to be working remotely, I’ve got to go to the office. And that means travel. We’ve chosen a life that we want and if it takes travel to make it work, then so be it. John’s five years old, not five months old (which was his age when I last changed jobs), and he’s old enough to understand all this.
So says our rational argument.
At the same time, I feel a little bit strange about making this decision. I have a lot of friends right now who are cutting back on work so they can spend more time with the kids. They’re volunteering in the classroom and rearranging their schedules so they’ll be the ones making the after school snacks and supervising homework. The feeling of moving in the opposite direction is hard to define: awkward? uncomfortable? disconnected? odd? Maybe all of those things. I always say that we all have to make decisions based purely on individual factors: my life, my job, my child, etc. But when my decision is different than that of so many friends and peers, I can’t help thinking twice or thrice about it, even though I’m not changing my mind.
I’m very, very lucky that we’re all buttoned up at home. Matt’s office, our house, and John’s school are all within about a mile from one another, so we can all easily get where we need to be. Matt has a lot of flexibility so he’s able to cover for me while I’m traveling. We have an absolutely outstanding babysitter after school, and I have supreme confidence in her ability to both take care of John and have fun with him. John’s good as gold while I’m away, although he definitely gives me the business when I get home (see above) which I chalk up to his frustration with my absence. I’m hoping these outbursts will fade away, but meanwhile trying to remind myself that bribing him with candy at 7:00 in the morning would be a bad idea.
All in all, John’s experience is going to be different than mine was, but I think he’s ok, and that any tradeoffs are to his benefit in the long run. And hopefully we’ll make it through and in the long run, he’ll agree.