I guess it’s just one of those days when I am destined to feel guilty—guilty that I have to go to Boston for work tomorrow (even though it is for just one night); guilty that I can’t bring my daughter to her dance dress-rehearsal because of my trip to Boston; and now guilty that I missed the Mother’s Day Tea when my daughter was in kindergarten. Yep, six-year-old guilt! The cause of this latest one is that I was going through my son’s school calendar the other day, and I had penciled in “Mother’s Day Tea” for this Friday at 2:30. I wasn’t sure I could actually go, but if it’s on the calendar, I can at least see if I might be able to take off work to attend. My daughter informed me this evening that I had to go to the tea, otherwise her brother would be heartbroken. When I told her it wasn’t likely because I have meetings all afternoon, her eyes actually welled up with tears and she reminded me that she was the only kid in kindergarten that didn’t have a mother there at the tea (I was away on a business trip then, too). The guilt that I felt about missing that tea came flooding back to me as I remember how devastated my five-year-old daughter had been that day. Of course, I have felt that guilt many times since then, as she reminds me of it every time I tell her I may miss something at her school. Although, I must say, being reminded of that day six years ago is sometimes necessary, as it is easy to forget the effects of missing a single event in your child’s life can have on them—especially when it involves making a choice between work and them.
I’m sitting here thinking about the advice I would have for my daughter if she were to feel guilty about disappointing someone she loves—and the one thing I can say is that, sadly, it is definitely going to happen. The thing I want her to understand is that she won’t be able to make everyone happy all the time, and that’s okay. The real challenge is to recognize when the disappointment of a loved one would have a lasting effect, and then to make the best choice that she can. As I will do when I decide whether or not to go to my son’s Mother’s Day Tea on Friday . . .
To read more about my “mom guilt,” read “Guilt.”