After becoming a dad, leaving for business trips has never been easy. I can’t even imaging the emotions that some of my friends in the military go through as they are away from their children for up to a year. I have a hard time dealing with a few days.
In route to SXSW
As I am in route for my fourth #SXSW Festival experience, the biggest obstacle I encountered was explaining to my 3 year old daughter that I was leaving for a few days.
Luggage Raised a Red Flag
As soon as my daughter saw luggage and saw me getting ready to put my socks on, she asked me if she could go with me. I mentioned I was going to visit a friend and she took the opportunity to emphasize how she wanted to go.
I don’t Travel Much
Since my daughter was born, I have made only 7 trips. That would have been my regular 2-3 month trip schedule when I was working for the big consulting firms.
Me leaving is unusual, because other than leaving for a few hours to regular client meetings or workout, I am usually home to cater to her requests and pamper her as much as I can.
I was prepared
Last night I went to bed later than usual. I wanted to make sure I was ready to break the bad news that daddy was leaving.
Last time I left, I created a quick drawing which she enjoyed very much. The past trip had been a very early flight and I had left hours before she would have woken up.
On this occasion I wanted to do something a bit more special for her since she would actually see me leave.
Last Moment Art Project
After midnight, I was on youtube watching how some of her favorite characters like Peppa Pig, George Pig, Mickey Mouse, Olaf and Mike (with one i) Wazoski could be drawn.
So I took out my sketchbook and drew each character with a post-it note message that had a countdown to the days until my return. Hopefully this will make each day fun for her while dad is not around.
I had a ton of fun creating those drawings (I am proud of my sketch of Olaf).
Shifting the Attention to Something Positive
Having a parent leave is stressful on all parties. Mom has to keep the business running in addition to all the tasks we share at the house.
Sometimes as parents we want to explain to our kids more than what can comprehend. The fact that dad was leaving was something that would make my daughter use all her energy towards convincing me to take her or not leave.
I shifted her line of thinking into a creative exercise which was a hand made gift from Dad.
To the rest of the world I might not be a recognized as an artist but from little Daniela’s perspective, I can surely compete with Picasso, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo.