Of course I know that I am not damaging my boys, but in the days leading up to a business trip I get more and more stressed. It has always been the case. It starts about two weeks before I am due to leave and I faff and make arrangements for them while I am away. So much to think about; the lifts to sporting fixtures, the food in the fridge and freezer, the childcare arrangements, making sure the school kit is sorted out day by day, putting the dog out to her surrogate mother (Claudia, our lovely graphic designer), etc.
I worry and over organize and get so prepared that the freezer stock tends to last long after I get back from the trip – sometimes due to them not following my instructions and getting their father to order pizza in place of the healthy meals I have lovingly cooked. In fact I probably worry too much.
The boys are big now and don’t really need the numerous Post It notes left around the house: Eat More Fruit, Don’t forget TEETH, Put rubbish out Thurs, REMEMBER snacks for footie, etc. I used to have live-in au pairs, or my mother used to come and help, but now they must get by. Its good for them and will make them into practical, domesticated Dads .. . in fact wont they be a dream if they have working wives? And of course they do get by, they get by very well – possibly, although it pains me to consider it, they may even enjoy the freedom of having their Mum away? No, I’m sure they miss me terribly? Hmmm. I wonder – could my two lovely boys actually rather like that special time alone with their father?
Well either way, I certainly miss them but it’s a strange thing that the minute I get on the plane I breathe a deep sigh of relief, order a little bottle of wine and relax. Of course I hardly ever travel for business now. When they were little travel used to consist of photo shoots for JoJo which they came on being the ‘house models’. The visits to factories were harder to bring them on, but sometimes they still joined me, generally with a cousin of mine to help out while I was in meetings. But as soon as they started school it became really impossible to take them and thankfully JoJo started to grow and other team members got the opportunity to travel.
I’m thinking about it all now because I find myself in New York this week with Mark, responsible for our international trade and Karen, our operations director. We are working the trade fair to really give the brand the best possible push as we launch here. It’s been great. The weather is fantastic, the fair going well and I have great company to explore this extraordinary city with. But of course having fun without the kids leads to feelings of guilt, especially the morning after the night before. Obviously parents and in particular working mums are bound to feel guilt. It’s a pretty pointless emotion, but don’t tell me to give it up because guilt is totally ingrained in my psyche – possibly something to do with being brought up a Catholic.
So to appease the guilt, I have just popped out from the Javit Centre (a large convention centre in Manhattan) and instead of having a nice leisurely lunch doing my emails on my BlackBerry in a trendy little New York-esque diner , I rushed over to SoHo and into the stores stocking US brands that my savvy boys revere. They know the Big Apple a little due to coming with me on my first business trip last year to reckie the city for a JoJo Maman Bébé launch. I’ve just bought them presents worthy of a birthday or Christmas. I’m pretty ashamed to be spoiling them and I don’t think it will make them love me anymore, but I will probably feel a lot better about going out to the top of the amazing Standard Hotel for a drink or two later.