I usually travel 3-5 times a year. A couple of those times are for blogging conferences, a couple more for sponsored blogging trips, and one of those is always a trip with my husband for his job. When I get ready for a trip, I follow the same steps that any other mother does. I arrange rides for people. I write down the schedules, lay in the groceries, plan the meals.
In short, I make the plans.I don't ever think about the fact that I do this. I just do it – it's
what needs to be done to make my life - and the lives of those I leave behind - run smoothly in my absence.
This week, I started the Word doc that I always create before I travel. I will be gone six days this time, which is an unusual length of time. I will be traveling to Dallas to attend the Blissdom conference, at which I am a community leader in the Life track. After the conference is over, I plan to spend two days with my father. So. It's six full days that I'm gone. And so I set out six sheets of paper, and started to make notes on it.
My kids are asthmatic, and so they take medications for that, and there are other medications that we take as well on a daily basis. I noted all of those. People have activities, practices, and responsibilities during those days, and so I notated those as well. Different people are in charge different days, and that requires careful coordination so that I don't overbook one day and have no adult here the other day. Let it be said also that I am a Grade A Number 1 control freak – I know it, I'm okay with it, and it works for us – and so I try to control everything that I can.
The reason I'm a control freak is because my husband works long hours, and I am the one that's here. So the bulk of the responsibility falls to me, and this is a good arrangement for us. It works. But when the person who runs the show leaves, she doesn't leave her brains behind – unless you count something that looks like this as my brain.
(You have to click on the pic to see the whole thing - typepad doesn't like panoramic images)
I showed the schedule to a friend, who told me that I needed to figure
out a way to slow my life down. What's funny to me is that this doesn't
seem out of control. This doesn't seem out of the ordinary. It's just
what happens during my life in the course of six days.
Compounded by the fact that I am a control freak, although deep inside I know that I cannot control everything.
What is funny to me is that when I going to conferences, and I mention that I made an eight page spreadsheet for a left, other women look at me in horror. Most people don't do this much advanced planning. Some of them have jokingly told me that no one helps them, so they won't help their husbands at all. "It's sink or swim for them, and this is my time!" I get that. I really do. And I wish I could do that. But for us, in this season of our life, that would be tantamount to disaster.
And I don't think that response those ladies give is exactly fair. After all, I am going away. I'm going to a place where all the work is done for me. I'm going somewhere that someone else makes the bed, someone else cooks the food, someone else vacuums the floor. And I don't have to think about it. Much the way that the rest of the family operates on a day to day basis – those things get done, and they don't have to think about them. Sure, they have chores to do, and they do them – but only when they are reminded.
It's my head that holds the facts. And until I figure out a way to leave my head behind, I have to put the facts on the sheet, post them on the wall, and hope that I've covered everything. I try to make it easy on people when I leave, because I know that on a daily basis - juggling of this magnitude is very difficult indeed. Difficult enough to do the things I do on a daily basis, the things that help this larger than normal size family run smoothly: it's even more difficult to find someone else to do those things.