This past Saturday, I stood in front of 500 women at the Mom 2.0 Summit in Laguna Beach and offered my best tips on bringing down mama-guilt levels while travelling for work. One bit of advice, which I have written about on this blog, is the importance of not trying to assuage our guilt in being away by promising our kids extravagant souvenirs. All that does is add more stress to our lives – leaving us desperately trying to hunt down the perfect gift before flying home. Better to stick with small, inexpensive items that are easy to find at an airport (a state magnet, cute pin, etc). Women nodded along as I shared this tip, and seemed to take notes. I felt good about my talk…
…until I went back to my hotel room and there was a sweet bag of schwag from various corporate sponsors sitting on my bed, everything from beauty products and magazines to treats and soap dispensers. Whoopee, Christmas morning! And among the goodies was a big stuffed horse. My first thought, of course, was “Risa will LOVE this! So cute and so free!”
My next thought was how hypocritical it would be to bring home a big stuffed animal after advising moms to keep the bar low when it comes to souvenirs. “I can’t do it, “ I told my friend Kerry who I was bunking with, “She’s going to start expecting these types of gifts for now on. My days of hotel-soap gifts will be disappointing.” At this, Kerry rolled her eyes and said, “For God’s sake, Michelle, pack the horse. You advised moms to find souvenirs that are cheap and easy to find. It does not get cheaper or easier than a free stuffed horse sitting on your bed.” Point taken. So I jammed the stuffed animal into my suitcase, with slightly mixed feelings.
I explained to Risa this was a “special-occasion” gift and that she shouldn’t expect ones like this when I go away again on business trips. “Of course not,” she said, “I won’t think so!” But I could see it in her eyes. Soaps and magnets are for suckers; she's got souvenir fever.
Mamas, all I can say in this case is, “Do as I advise, and not as I do.”