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When Mom Leaves Town

I’m leaving later this week for a blogging conference. I don’t travel for work very often, and I would like to tell you that this is because I’m so utterly devoted to my family that I can’t bear to be away from them.

I do love them. And I miss them terribly. But honestly? I rarely leave because it’s just requires so much work.

In fact, I’m developing a highly scientific theory that goes something like this: For every 24-hour period a mother plans to be away from her family, she should allow 48 hours to plan for that period. In other words, if you’re going to be gone for two days, it will take you four days to prepare. Leaving for four days? You’re looking at eight planning days, my friend.

And I know, at first glance, that doesn’t make a lot of sense -- it only takes me 24 hours to live 24 hours, so why would it take twice as long to prepare for them?

But it does. Maybe this is because so much of a mom’s work is intuitive. I hold 8,294,321 tidbits of logistical information inside my head, and I just do it. When I try to write it down, and line up others to help with it, it snowballs into a feat of mountainous scope. The last time I traveled for work (I was gone for three days) I left behind eight pages of instructions. EIGHT. Do you know how long it takes to negotiate eight pages worth of plans?

There will be, for example, a finely-drawn schedule that says who has to be where, and when (and oh, by the way, don’t let Stephen forget to take a present to Danny’s party; it’s already wrapped and sitting on the counter). There will be lists of phone numbers for friends who have graciously stepped in to help (Jenn is picking up Corrie for preschool, and oh, by the way, her clothes are laying out and her lunch box is already packed in the fridge, oh, and speaking of clothes, Joseph will try to wear the same shirt the whole time, so please don’t let him). There will be convenient meal plans laid out in detail (lasagna is in the freezer, garlic bread in the fridge, and for lunch tomorrow we’re well-stocked on Spaghettios, and don’t forget Adam needs protein for breakfast or he gets grouchy, and Corrie will only eat sandwiches if you cut the crust off).

See? Just writing that paragraph makes me want to take a nap.

I’m still thankful, of course -- I know there are plenty of women who need to travel for work considerably more often, and I cannot imagine how hard that must be. And while I try too hard to get contingency plans lined up, the fact is that my supportive husband is very hands-on, and he holds down the fort beautifully. The whole thing is worth it to get off the plane and see my noisy brood waiting at the airport, wearing the same shirts they had on when I left.

It’s good to be home.

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