Why I Canceled A Work Trip to Take Care of My Kids

My current location is on my bathroom floor, my lap desk over my thighs and laptop on top.  My seven-year-old son is laying on a towel in the bathroom because he just can’t stop throwing up.  I should have left for the airport thirty minutes ago. My flight boards in an hour and my meetings start a few hours after that.  The amount of guilt in my chest/stomach is literally so heavy I can barely breathe. I know in my heart that I can’t leave my son, but my head is running a million miles an hour worrying how missing this meeting could affect this account, my career, my company.  The irrational sets in and fear and panic take over.

Why is it that I feel this way? Why is it that my husband could walk out of the house with our son sicker than sick and not think twice? He is an amazing dad. A truly amazing dad, but he had surgeries to do and couldn’t cancel. He left me knee-deep in throw up and frantically trying to decide what to do about this work trip.  

I wonder in this moment if it is a biological thing.  Is it my maternal instinct? Would a female orthopedic surgeon cancel her surgeries? Would she find someone to cover for her? What if the tables were turned and the female orthopedic surgeon’s husband had to go out of town, would he cancel his work trip? The answers to these questions I just don’t know.  I know that I literally called all of my closest confidants to see what they would do. My colleagues, my friends, my mom, etc. Every single one tried to help me feel less guilty about canceling the work trip.

In order to try and play this out, I moved my flight back from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm, and then to 8:30 pm before I eventually canceled. I wrote letters to my client and to my distributor partners that I wouldn’t be able to attend. I debated whether to disclose that it was due to my children being sick or whether to give another reason.  Why it even crossed my mind to not give the full reason I am not sure, but the guilt definitely had something to do with it.

At the end of the day, when my son was embraced in my arms and looked up at me and told me he loved me so very much, I knew I had made the right decision. While I would have had an amazing support system to take care of him while I was in NYC, he wanted my arms cuddling him, and my help to get better.  Another day my work life may win out, but today my mom life won, and I know I made the right decision.