So I have to travel overseas for work in a few weeks. My job doesn’t normally involve a lot of travel (5% per year at best), but this trip is mission critical, which is why it came up so fast. Normally I’m excited for trips overseas, even to places where I’ve already been. I usually carve out a few hours for exploring because who knows when I’ll get back to places like England and Northern Ireland again. Travel and vacation was a big part of my childhood and adulthood so certainly I’d like to instill that same excitement in my son. But I am most definitely not excited for this trip.
I haven’t traveled for work since my son was born. Hell, I haven’t traveled for work since my wife became pregnant with him! I’ve never slept away from him for a single night, never been away from him for longer than an 8ish-hour work day. He’s developed, changed, and grown up a little bit every single day. And I’m going to miss an entire week of it?!?!? Moreover, my wife has to be his caregiver 24/7 (plus or minus a few relatives) while I’m gone. Yikes!
Technology is a wonderful thing as I plan to Skype with my wife and son every night. I couldn’t imagine being gone for what will seem like an eternity with no contact other than a phone call. He seems to change so fast that I’d come back from my trip to an entirely different person! I was lucky enough to schedule the trip so I don’t miss any appointments or our weekly Music Together class, a.k.a. Full-Of-Awesomeness class. I made those choices intentionally. If work is going to take me away from my family for a week I’d like it to be as much on my terms as possible.
But I know it won’t always work out that way, which got me thinking about work/life balance and career limitations. I’ve had conversations with co-workers who were told in no uncertain terms that they wouldn’t make it to the next level because it required AIS time of at least 50 hours every week. Lots of jobs at that next level also require 20-25% travel. I’m rapidly approaching that level of potential based on my current job position and performance. My personal philosophy has always been “don’t gripe about how many hours I’m in the office as long as my work is getting done”, but I know not every manager and company sees it that way. Based on my co-worker’s experience my company (or at least my division) has already drawn their line in the sand. Based on me writing this blog post I think you know where I stand. This will undoubtedly cause some tough decisions at some point down the road. I don’t want to be the father that misses his son’s first words, first steps, sports games, recitals, or other general displays of child awesomeness because work got in the way.
I know there are alternatives out there such as telecommuting, working from home, flex time, etc. Between VPN, IP phones, instant messenger, and email I am able to work in mostly real time with co-workers across the world right from my desk, so being confined to my cube always seemed inane anyway. But I digress.
It is vitally important for me to be as involved in my children’s lives as they’ll let me be. Not only for them, but for me as well. I feel like I’m evolving and changing right along with him, developing new skills and insights into life on the fly. Who knew I had this much to say on a blog anyway?? Speaking of, enough of this. I’m about to close up shop for the day and go spend some quality time with my family.
Have a great weekend everybody.