Saturday, September 16, 2006

Travel Woes

This has been a tough work week. I was out of town on work for two days and had a business dinner on the third. So I have been feeling separation anxiety and guilt pangs like never before. The day I returned from my trip was especially stressful. I had planned it all very well so that I would get back in time to spend at least an hour with Ayaan before his bedtime. But everything that could go wrong did – the flight was delayed by 15 minutes, the check-in baggage took ages to appear, the driver took a wrong turn and there was bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way home from the airport. I got terribly stressed out in the car drive, shouted at the driver and shed a few quiet tears of frustration and guilt. Eventually, I did get home in time to meet Ayaan but for just about 15 minutes…

Though I must admit that travelling does have its upsides:

  • To start with, one can theoretically sleep late in the mornings. Let me clarify this a bit though. Firstly, 'late' in the current context means till 8 a.m. Also, note the strategically added ‘theoretically’ – as I discovered on this trip, my body’s internal clock seems to have decided that no matter what the circumstances or levels of exhaustion, sleep beyond 7 a.m. is just not an option.
  • Since I am travelling and away from home any way, I can indulge in some guilt-free socialising with friends who stay in that city and stay out as late as I like.
  • I can go shopping by mysef and for myself, without the added burden of having to worry about an unwilling, bored husband and a restless toddler. (Ayaan's list of retail mishaps now include breaking a clothes hanger, bursting a bottle of buttermilk, throwing up on the floor and opening a packet of nicely wrapped apples and digging his nails into it!)
  • I can spend quiet evenings without toddler arms wrapped around my legs or grubby toddler fingers poking and pinching me with gay abandon.
  • I can actually walk out of a room without a wail following my departure.

Yet, they don’t make up for:

  • Not being the first person Ayaan sees in the morning and the last one he sees before he sleeps at night.
  • Coming home to an impersonal and empty hotel room with no ecstatic, six-toothed grin to greet my arrival.
  • Hearing about his antics from Jai on the phone and feeling miserable about missing out on them.
  • Seeing other women with their babies during the course of the day and getting a horrible, empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.
  • The guilt accompanied by the never-ending internal debate of “Is this really worth it?” - which really makes its presence felt at times like these.
  • Worry about whether he is missing me and the tinge of sadness that comes with admitting to myself that he is not.

And then I’m back home and life goes on… until the next trip, that is.


22 comments:

  1. Can imagine how you feel...but must still be a nice feeling if it is just for a couple of days to have that time for yourself despite the guilt. May be it helps you enjoy being back with your son even more! Very cute cartoon btw!

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  2. 1st part sounds fun (me with whimsical look on face). but good u r back- ayaan must hav missed u. 2nd part of ur post makes it seem worthwhile being at home/ rather returning. forgive me for the short hand english. my 2 little monsters are having there morning nap & thot i shud catch up with the blog circle

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  3. that cartoon is one of the cutest things I have ever read.

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  4. [Noon] As I said, it surely does have its upsides. It's nice to have some moments where I am not on duty either at work or at home.

    [Itchingtowrite] I believe that is called the 'grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side' syndrome. I really envy your situation...

    [Beks] I absolutely love Marvin comics. This particular strip does not feature Marvin himself - who just about Ayaan's age. I can find a lot of relevant humour in his doings.

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  5. Good one again Rohini. For me, it really puts into perspective how much my mom, and every other mom, has sacrificed and worked for her children.

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  6. Hmmm the ups and downs of being a working mom. How I wish men could go through some of this!!
    Really cute cartoon!

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  7. [Ankan] It is like when my mom used to get completely frustrated me and say "Wait till you grow up and have kids of your own!"

    [Inquisitive Akka] I know! While Jai also adores Ayaan, it's in quite a different way. I don't think Jai ever feels guilt at being away from Ayaan.

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  8. Impressive and as usual good reasoning on both sides of the rails. And you sound so brave.

    You are on my blogroll btw - finally!

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  9. hey...dont stress yourself out... i dont think kids take these things as seriously as we do... with all our reasoning and guilt...

    look at the bright side.. you wont have teething problems like the rest of us working from home/ stay at home mommies will have when we get back to the rat race!!!

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  10. Aw, welcome back, you super-mom you! Am sure Ayaan's thrilled to bits at having you back.

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  11. Hey, Rohini -

    I know what you mean about missing the kids. Not having to leave them every day already, like you do, I actually find that when I do get to spend some time out, away from them, it makes me appreciate them that much more when I come home and they are all so happy to see me. (And somewhat gratifying that they greet me with the same enthusiasm that they give Jason at the end of every day.) Plus, I am more refreshed and able to deal with their "antics" from a more balanced state of mind.

    As Ayaan gets older, or as you have more children, you will likely find that you are able to let go of being the one person who is most important to Ayaan. It's not easy, but it brings its own joys and rewards to watch your children learning things from someone else, and see the self-confidence they develop when they realize they can handle these new situations without a helping hand from mom or dad. And isn't that our job as parents? To train our children to be competent adults? No tougher job in the world--keep up your great work, Rohini! Too bad there weren't more mommies like you around.

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  12. yeah the cartoon is cute. and i can SO relate to what y're feeling. i'm just back meself from a week long trip on work. every evening my first question to P on the phone was "did tara miss me?" :)

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  13. Interesting! I am curious. Beofore you left on the trip, what was your expectation of how you were going to feel?

    I have never been away from my kid. I would probably enjoy staying away on my own for a couple of days. But then again, I wouuldn't know how I will feel unless I experience I guess.

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  14. hey if men had to go through all the things women had to go through with having and raising children there would be no humans within a generation! Maybe men have more trust in their spouse's ability to take care of the kids than women. However, to slightly promote Ginga and BooBoo in the circle of life (as I know that with him I only feel an itsy bitsy fraction of what someone feels for their child), I feel sad when leaving them alone for long and guilty if they are without me for too long.

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  15. I keep postponing my first overnight trip for fear that Anush( my kid) will forget me when I get back. I try and leave early morn and return by the evening flight. I think I need her more than she does me- at least when I try to sleep. I wonder how my first time is going to be.

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  16. Hang in there. Mainly the tiredness talking, from the sound of it.

    On the other hand, I worry about being super-possesive. Do not want to be like V's mom, who can't let her younger son go at 30!

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  17. Hey,
    Well, two things ...

    * you are giving yourself way too much guilt and beating yourself up way too mercilessly. missing Ayaan and missing home, i get, but why the guilt? everyone needs their downtime, and time away from kids. and its 2 days out of how many? 365 x 2? u owe urself some me-time!

    * I don't think Jai ever feels guilt at being away from Ayaan.

    I was about to comment about this, when you brought it up urself. If the mom is away for 2 days she is hardwired to feel 'guilty'. If a mom (gasp!)chooses to make a trip when she did'nt hav to, leaving the kid behind, she is a power hound career b... you get the picture. This is because of the patriarchy we live in. If you do not feel guilty for doing the things you liked doing before (friends and late nights and shopping), you are totally heartless and just don't deserve the divinity of motherhood!

    Time for the disclaimer now. All of this comes from a non-mother, so it might sound very theoretical, but it still makes sense to understand that ther's nothing wrong with enjoying some time by urself once in a while.

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  18. Would it have made it easier on you if Jai had taken couple of days off and been with Ayaan.

    Other than the question of WM's guilt, there is no sure way of estimating what the impact of the abscence of WM has on the kid.Especially since WM is anyway away for most part of everyday.
    It's easy to say don't feel guilty since the kid 'doesn't care'. I am not too sure about that. I feel kids note anyone of the parents absence well enough. They then learn to make up their mind on how to deal with it.
    Even if they do protest can parents take note of it and act.
    I am convinced that kids at an early stage need the reassurance that any one of the parent is there all the time (physically and mentally).
    As a WD I would have loved to take it off when WM travelled. Now that is where the typically 'patriarchal' society would snort and chuckle if I said wanted a couple of days leave since WM was going to be away.

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  19. [30in2005] I don't feel very brave. When I reread such posts of mine, I often feel like a big, fat whiner!

    [Mad Momma] Talk about teething problems, I think I am cutting my molars right now! Actually it's more like getting my wisdom teeth extracted - since it's more like something being taken away from me.

    [Nee] Super-mom?! I wish. My idea of a super-mom is someone who successfully juggles a career with her family without any sense of guilt or inadequacy. I am quite far from that.

    [Talena] Thank you for those very kind words. It's nice to hear that, especially from another mom, especially a stay-at-home mom at that!

    [Aqua] A week! Eek! Imagine what a meltdown I will have when that happens.

    [Twisted DNA] Actually, I expected only to feel miserable and guilty, but as I discovered - travelling does have some plus points.

    [Ranjit] Hell, if men had to go through childbirth, that would be the end of anyone having more than one kid. I cannot imagine a man agreeing to go through that for a second time. I missed my dogs to when I travelled, but believe me, it's nothing comapred to how much I miss Ayaan.

    [Artnavy] I tried the morning and evening bit too but Ayaan goes to sleep by 9 and I miss meeting him anyway. So now I plan to do less actual trips but go for 2 days at a stretch. I also get more work accomplished that way.

    [Sue] I think work is all that is standing between me and super-possessiveness! Till I went back to work, I had not allowed a single diaper to be changed by the maid!

    [Sudha] Actually, it is more than that. Since I am back to full-time work now, I am required to travel atleast 6-7 days in a month. On the husband part, Jai was sitting in Mumbai and envying the South Indian food I get to eat on my trips and I was like "Wanna switch?!"

    [Outsider] I don't think it is necessarily as simple as that. Every mom just needs to find her right balance - some could not dream of spending even a few hours away from their kids while others successfully manage childrearing alongside busy careers. I think I just have to figure out what that balance is for me...

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  20. Be more relaxed at such times. You know that Jai is doing a great job in looking after your priceless bundle of joy when you are not around. Try to unwind yourself when you are away from him. There is a long road ahead with trials and tribulations along with joy and happiness [ more of the latter category]you will face in coming years. So learn to be cool and calm.

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  21. Actually, I think we moms feel less guilty if we know there's someone our offspring relate to really well--father/grandparent/aunt whoever.
    The cartoon si really too cute!

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  22. [Patti] Easier said than done...

    {Suemammma] I think the bigger the problem is that we like to believe that we are indispensabe and irreplacable...

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