Friday, September 19, 2008

Juggler's Guilt

Well, school is officially underway, and so are the multitude of activities and events requiring parental attendance and/or involvement - Back to School Night, orientations, welcome events, kick-off meetings - you name it. And if you have more than one child, well, you are probably already in support of cloning research.
I've often joked that as a parent, one must write-off all of September and May for school events - my calendar is so over-booked that client travel becomes nearly a relief from it all.
But what if you can't make these events? What if that client meeting/surgery/deposition/court date/whatever could not be moved? Will your kid be the only one there solo, pining for his/her parental unit? Are you scarring them for life? I've run into so many parents of late confronting exactly this dilemma: whom to let down - their boss or their kid. What a choice! And why must we be making them??
The guilt is overwhelming. And I don't know about you, but boy am I exhausted by juggling all those balls. I suppose the only good news is that we're not alone in either the guilt or the exhaustion.
If this were the work world, Back to School would be treated as an off-site for 3 days at some comfy resort complete with all manner of bonding activities, catered affairs, and social mixers. It would be sacred time carved out of our hectic lives to focus on getting our kids properly "on-boarded" for the year. Instead, it is crammed in over the course of several weeks to give us ample time to piss off work colleagues/clients, arrive late to several events, miss deadlines (for both work and school), and feel inept at our ability to manage it all.
Enough already! Ditch the guilt. We're doing our best to manage it all, prioritizing our kids as much as possible, keeping our jobs, and striving to contribute meaningful to our schools. Our kids are (hopefully) more resilient than we think and will understand that they always come first (and that they, as a person, are the priority, not the school event). But the guilt isn't productive and doesn't help our kids. Striving forth with as much confidence as we can muster teaches them by example that we have done our best, made our peace, and are moving on. And that is definitely a lesson I want my girls to take.

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