I just read a post on Work It Mom blog about whether working moms should have to travel for business. I don’t know whether women should be allowed or justified in not traveling when they are breastfeeding an infant — there are so many complex issues surrounding it. I would like to say yes – because after all we can’t help the fact that we are the ones that can breastfeed. It isn’t our fault that we are the ones that carry the babies and that we are the ones that have the goods to feed the baby. But at the same time is that requesting that women get special treatment? I very much also believe that women need to just do their jobs as well as possible and not get caught up in the gender wars.
I know this – I was lucky enough to not have to make the decision. When I have to travel and have had to travel since my babies were born, I bring them along. My mom has been able to come with me and take care of the babes while I deal with my meetings or seminars or talks. Sometimes, because my husband and I work together he and I travel together and bring the kids.
While I know that I am extremely lucky. But this also means that business travel is completely draining and exhausting. I never get to read on the plane, enjoy the silent hotel room, or spend some time just by myself. I come back after a long day at a conference, or some all day meetings and while it is incredible to have my beautiful boys with me, it means dinner at a hotel with toddlers, bath time, and bed time in a strange hotel room (which is to say the least, challenging). But at the end of the day I can climb into the King bed in the hotel with my babies, smell their hair, and kiss them goodnight.
So should we have some laws protecting women in the workplace from suffering at their jobs if they choose to say no to business travel when breastfeeding? Probably not. But what if companies could chip in and offer to pay a companion airfare so that a woman could bring her mom, or sister, or babysitter? Maybe at least then everyone could have it both ways!
Oh… and wish me luck. Tomorrow I get on a plane from San Francisco to London with my husband, 3 year old, and 1 year old. We have a business conference in London on the 2nd of November. I hope we all survive!