I'm getting ready for another work trip and leaving the kids is always a mixed bag of emotions. This is my sixth year (co)running this particular student program, so my anxiety about the trip itself has lessened over time. My co-worker is a great partner in crime and we know how to think on our feet (Are you reading this? You know you love me, roomie!)
When the girls were younger, there were actually some perks to working away from home. I got to sleep in, go to the bathroom by myself, eat without being asked 300 times to get a refill or pick up a dropped fork, and maybe even read a few pages of a book before falling asleep. Program coordination stress aside, it was as close to a break as I could get. A few years ago, Andy called these programs my vacation. I wouldn't exactly call being responsible for the well-being and professional development of a busload of kids in NYC, Washington DC, and Boston, a vacation but it was a change of pace. (Since that time, I've fought for my momma rights and have actually enjoyed a few real vacations, with and without babies in tow.)
Going away from the girls, for business or pleasure, requires a huge amount of planning. Forget what I need to pack and what I need to do to prepare. That comes in the late hours the evening before I leave. The weeks and or/days leading up to my trip are filled with the many details I manage on a daily basis that need to be transmitted to Andy in my absence.
First, is what the girls are going to wear. I must put out outfits for each day, per his request, and honestly I'm ok with that since he had Charlotte wear a tank top and tights once. Yes, Andy they need to wear underwear with tights, unless it's with a leotard! Then, it's making sure he knows where the coats, hats, and mittens are located and that he understands that the kids have to wear these when they go outside. (Andy often confuses the girls with himself. Apparently a 6 foot, 200 pound dude from Minnesota doesn't always wear a coat in the winter and neither should a 2 1/2 foot, 22 pound, 2 year old.)
Next comes what they eat. This blog started because I had to share the story about Andy not feeding Caroline one night because I didn't explicitly tell him to. I'll do my best to shop for, and plan, menus for the week that are well balanced and nutritional. The end product is questionable. Andy considers a balanced meal to include chicken fingers, french fries and mashed potato. Cake and candy always enter the equation, too. Plus, I'm 100% positive that McDonald's will be featured for one breakfast and one dinner, too.
Then, the most stressful part, managing Caroline's after school schedule. I confess, sometimes I forget where she is and at 3:30 at work I panic, hoping I communicated that day's plan to the appropriate school official and friend/picker-upper. We have a schedule, however, so I usually just recall what day it is and then I know where she is and who she is with. Andy, on the other hand, hasn't a clue. He asks me every Tuesday where Caroline is. She has been going to our same friend's house on Tuesdays since September. I'll be busy this weekend sending a round of emails to all of the folks who watch our girls for us, letting them know that, yikes, Andy is the go-to for all Caro and Char needs this week. Will I be texting them at pick-up time each day next week? Probably. Will I be sending Andy reminder texts each day to prompt him to recall their whereabouts? Likely.
I stick to a rigid schedule at home and have a bunch of rules. I'm fun like that. No screens (TV or ipads) during the week. Dessert only on occasion after dinner. Lights out by 8pm. Coats and boots on by 7:25am. Help set and clear the table. No juice, just milk or water. Bath every other night. But, I know. When the warden is away, the dad and children will play. I am not naive, I know that Oreos will be consumed. Hair will not be combed. Baths will be optional. Bedtime will be a little later. TV will be enjoyed, for hours. Coats will be half on and teeth will be brushed at 7:27 am as the bus rolls up to our driveway. I know this because it has all happened before. And guess what? The girls are both just fine. They seem to survive my work trips every time, and just like me getting used to planning these excursions, Andy becomes more of a pro on the home front each year. And what I don't know about, can't hurt me. After all, what happens at the Marietta's (when Mommy's away), stays at the Marietta's (when Mommy's away).