Why do work trips always seem to fall at the worst time? There always seems to be a nice slot on the calendar when you are planning the trip, then when life approaches that same spot on the same calendar, the situation has changed. I will be leaving all of next week for a research trip where I will have limited phone access and even more limited internet access. It's never fun to be away from my wife and the wee one for a week, but sometimes it's part of the job and the lab work I do is a direct result of trips like this. When it was panned, this was just another trip, but Murphy has his way of sticking a finger in your eye.
WLS recently got a job at Employment University, which is good but means that the wee one has to go to daycare. Obviously we would prefer to be able to take care of her during the day, but I'm not exactly getting paid enough for us to subsist on my salary alone indefinitely and WLS also wants to return to the workforce and realizes that the longer we wait, the harder it is going to be. That doesn't make it any easier to embrace the idea of daycare after a year of having the wee one home. And with all this going on, what day do you think WLS starts work? Luckily it's not this Monday, but it is the Monday right after I get home.
So, if you're keeping score at home, I am leaving for a sub-tropical location for the last full week that the wee one is home all day, which is the same week that my wife is prepping to go back to work after being home with the wee one for a year. I guess it's better than last year when I left WLS in a very snowy Postdoc City for a week, before we had a car, and while she was 7.5 months pregnant... over Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, that kind of improvement is not winning me any points.
The large burden I am placing on WLS for the week aside, the whole day care experience just underscores how quickly the wee one is growing (how long can I continue to use "wee one"?). Every parent says how quickly their kids grow up and it's a bit cliche, but it's a universal feeling for a reason. Seeing your child slowly becoming more independent is bitter-sweet and working the hours required in this job makes it even more poignant because of the precious hours we have to spend with our kids. I don't like working weekends when I could be playing with the wee one or going for a family hike, etc., but sometimes there just is no choice. I do everything I can to get home for dinner and bath time, as well as be around on the weekends, and most days I succeed. Will I regret my choices someday when the wee one is old enough to ask why I'm not there? I don't know. Striking a balance between getting things done at work and being happy with the time I have at home has been far and away the most difficult thing to deal with in this job so far. We're trained to write the grant and do the science and we can figure out the teaching because it's a topic we know and love. But time is the most precious commodity and I always seem to be running in the red.