Yep! That was me.
In a day when many women still stayed home to raise their kids, I was an Art Director in an Advertising Agency. I worked crazy hours… sometimes having to stay all night! My dear husband, who was working in the printing business at the time, was totally understanding of this because his industry was pretty much the same.
One or the other of us would call at five or six o’clock to say, “Sorry Hon, gotta get this stupid job out,” or “The press just went down, it’s gonna be a long night.”
This happened more often than either of us could remember, but that was the industry. Deadlines and more deadlines and you were dead if you didn’t meet them.
Now I was lucky enough to have a nanny for my three girls at that time. She was a wonderful woman who took care of my kids when I worked during the day. Best of all, she lived right across the street! But after hours we would have to hire a babysitter or make sure one of us was home. This was somewhat an acceptable lifestyle to my neighbors (even though we would be coming and going at all times of day and night) until the day I was leaving my family to go on a trip….
TO JAPAN! Yes… for 15 long days.
Wasn’t even a business trip! One of my clients had a son who was living there for two years and she needed a travel mate. She hadn’t seen him for 18 months. When she asked me to go I was flabbergasted!
“Donna, I can’t afford to go to a no-tell, motel on the Berlin Turnpike! How the hell do you think I can come up the money to get there?”
Well low and behold my husband hits a win on a horse race and gives me the airfare to get there! We wouldn’t have to pay for lodging most of the time because we were going to stay at her son’s apartment, but I would need expense money, so I was still short. When I told my dad, who traveled quite a bit when I was a kid, he offered to give me the money to take a trip of a lifetime! I had never flown in a plane and was scared to death but I WAS GOING TO JAPAN!
You would have thought I had run over an old lady with an unregistered car! Of course, I never directly heard any of this. My girlfriend, who lived across the street at the time, let me know after I came back how the tongues were wagging!
“How could she leave three babies and run off like that!!
“Her poor husband… What is he to do having to work and take care of those babies!”
I’m sure there were many other slanders that were thrown around amongst the stay-at-home-moms on the street. And of course, my husband handled it very well!
He took the kids to every relative he had (he’s one of eleven siblings) to get the kids fed and then there was always McDonald’s. My eldest at the time, maybe 10 or so got so sick of not eating home she forced her father to take her to the grocery store to buy a steak which she attempted to cook! (My husband didn’t cook.) So this only added fuel to the fire.
When I got home, exhausted and exhilarated from the experience, I was never confronted by any of the neighborhood gossips so I just laughed. I guess that 35 years later it’s still the same no man’s land between working moms and stay-at-home-moms. I’m glad that this site has tried to bridge that gap because in the ultimate end it all comes out in the wash.
None of my three daughters turned out to be crack whores because of my absence that May of 1983. None of them seem to be psychologically damaged because their parents worked crazy hours.
It’s what happens when you’ve got the time to share together that counts and I will always remember that fantastic journey to the Orient that I will never be able to trek again.