Ordinarily, I’m pretty excited to go on a work trip. Sure, they’re exhausting, but it usually means staying in a five-star hotel, having productive meetings and building stronger relationships with business partners (note my order of priorities there!). However, I was hesitant when I was asked if I wanted to attend a conference in Sydney, meaning two nights away from my girl. Now, we had spent nights apart before, but it was only ever one, and I was always with her dad. This was me on my own. However, I was only back at work two months, and I thought it was pretty great of my boss to include me. I had to go. So, I packed my bag – in next to no time, I might add, much different than when I travel with missy – and headed to the airport. Here are the high- and low-lights.

Related: A weekend away with a one-year-old

Tears abound

A mere 15 minutes from our descent into Sydney and a Qantas ad began to play, an ad where a little girl leaves her mum and dad to visit her grandma in the US. The ad is intentionally emotive, with It Feels Like Home playing in the background. Ordinarily, I would not give this ad a second thought, so it was with much surprise that tears began to well up in my eyes. That theme continued for much of the two days. If I watched a video of my little girl, I cried; when we started to talk about kids over dinner one evening, tears threatened. So, my recommendation for that first trip away would be to make sure you have tissues on you at all time. There’s nothing more unprofessional than snot bubbles!

Related: What I didn’t expect when I returned to work

The quiet

Oh my goodness, never underestimate the healing properties of a nice, long bubble bath without a little person popping their head over the edge, and attempting to climb in. And how wonderful to hit the gym and spend as long as I wanted on the treadmill. And isn’t it marvellous to eat breakfast, with a view of the harbour no less, without someone pointing and crying as you fail to shove food into their mouth fast enough? Gosh, I love my little girl, but two days of being on my own was amazing.

Facetime

You would think this would be a highlight. After all, I got to see missy and say goodnight to her. But, remember that FaceTime is a little odd to the 14-month-old, even if she has been using it since birth. She got quite upset when she handed me her dummy (after I exclaimed “yucky dummy!”) and it promptly dropped to the floor. She couldn’t work out why she couldn’t throw her arms around and me and attach herself to me like she usually does. I think poor dad suffered for it with a very upset girl for the rest of the evening.

The lack of rest

I was so excited about sleeping on my own and not having someone demanding attention at the crack of dawn. The idea of sleeping through until seven was amazing. It didn’t happen. It seems I’ve become conditioned to the early wake-up calls. And the second night I was so restless and full of thoughts that I actually got less rest than I have had for weeks. Suffice to say I came home exhausted – and it’s going to take me months to make that up!

Getting home

Of course, my flight was delayed. And the traffic was horrendous. My 5pm arrival ended up being 6.30pm, just before missy went to bed. Fortunately, hubby kept her up. As I walked in, she clapped her hands and squealed, very excited to have mum home. That lasted all of 10 seconds as she unwrapped her “Sydney present” and began to play. I held onto her tight, and once again tried to hold back those tears – seriously, what’s up with that?

Getting home day 2

Oh, that rosy film faded fast. Suddenly missy realised that mum was home. And where had she been? Was she leaving again? Not on her watch. Her tactic appears to be to hold onto me everywhere I go. My little nearly-walking angel has decided that she only wants to move by being carried, and pointing at where she wants to go. Did I mention I was exhausted? But you know what, what would normally be annoying is actually rather sweet, and I’m enjoying the extra cuddles.

Next time, it will be easier. And aren’t I lucky to have a boss that gives me opportunities that others might not afford part-time working mums?

Next: Why I’m not judging working mums

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