I read an incredible story this week; I think you should read it. It’s not enjoyable, per se, but eye-opening and provides perspective on parental love. Healthy days can be simply luxurious. Any parent who has endured/witnessed serious illness in children knows this. So do parents who have witnessed a scare.
When I forwarded the story to my husband while flying to a conference on Monday, he instantly said, “I just want to go home and hug the boys.” I felt the same way. But trapped at 30,000 feet, I had little choice. I was working while flying across the continent. I’ve mainly been traveling with the boys these past years, and on this trip I learned that the last bastion of the unplugged landscape is dead. I point my finger at airplane WiFi. Albeit fantastic from a productivity stand-point, WiFi in the sky is life-balance wrecking. For a working mom who fills up every square centimeter of time with work or time with the kids, the airplane trip (sans kids) was supposed to be a little luxury “me time.” No more.
By Colorado, back into work and entirely plugged in, I became slightly breathless.
Despite the plentiful air in the MD-80, the article knocked the wind out of me. It’s a little bit about suffering and a lot about love. Maybe it strikes especially close to home because it’s written by a doctor who is married to a doctor who has a son. Obviously I could picture myself in her shoes. But even pushing those similarities aside, what Dr Steinglass writes about is universally relevant; she describes the desperate love we feel for our children. The love we feel daily, and more palpably, when they are ill. If my husband wanted to run home from the hospital, you can imagine what it felt like for me as I read it traveling East, away from Seattle, at 30,000 feet…
The article has stuck with me over the last two days. As has the insatiable desire to return home (rapidly) to the boys. But I will say this; I’m still glad I went on this trip. Still thankful for the opportunity to contribute, and appreciative of the learning I received. Working, even when it extracts me, is good for me on multiple levels. Yet it doesn’t mean that leaving is any less complicated. Mothers who enjoy work don’t love or miss their children less.
Leaving young children and climbing into the sky is not easy. Never mind the worry about travel, it’s the longing I feel. Waving to O in the car (tears in my eyes) after waving to F at the stairway (tears in my eyes) remains with me today. But I am committed to my mission of improving the way families learn about pediatric health information. And I was off to speak and moderate a panel of experts. I met incredible people, heard wise lessons, and was able to spread a bit of my story. But my heartstrings were tugged on, pulled, and frayed. Being a working mom, and being asked to travel, brews a complex mix of emotion. I’m not yet at my quarterly working mom crisis point, but I spent a good deal of time thinking about choices while away…
This article contributed to it. I mentioned to a few docs I know that it should be requisite reading for exhausted residents, nurses, and any other provider in a Children’s hospital. A good reminder of why we all work so hard. Particularly when we get lost in the overload of it all.
Click on the link. And know, that as I do too, I’m doing so from 30,000 feet.