Today I am filled with mom-guilt. Since there are more types of mom-guilt than there are Eskimo words for snow, I should probably be more specific.
Today’s guilt (or at least this hour’s guilt) is Guilt Type #26: When you have to tell your child that you won’t be chaperoning their class field trip today even though you never missed any of his big sister’s field trips. Even worse, the aggrieved child reminds you about how you used to drop him off at a daycare for the express purpose of being able to attend his big sister’s field trips (Guilt Type #37.) To top it off, you may have kind of, a little bit, fibbed (or at least exaggerated) about the excuses for missing the filed trip (Guilt Type #26.B)
Yes, I did need to take the dog to the vet to get his booster shot. Could the appointment have been rescheduled? Sure. Did I consider rescheduling it? Not really.
Yes, I also did have a tennis lesson scheduled for this morning. Did one of the other moms in our group skip practice to go to the field trip? Yes. Did another mom leave right from practice to join up for the second half of the field trip? Yes. Did she offer to even drive me there? Yes. Am I filling the rest of my day with non-mission-critical tasks like farting around in the back yard throwing the ball with the dog, doing laundry and spreading compost on the yard instead of attending said field trip? Yes.
Perhaps it’s because it’s the Friday before spring break and this mamma has shit to do and would like to do it in a leisurely, methodical fashion vs a frantic and rushed mess.
Perhaps it’s because he’s the second kid and I SIMPLY CANNOT feign enthusiasm in the same museum that I have chaperoned dozens and dozens of kids through in previous years.
But mostly it’s because I have chaperoned dozens and dozens of kids to dozens and dozens of museums, parks, zoos, dairy farms and caves over the years and do you know how many of those kids have complained about a parent that couldn’t attend? ZERO. Do you know how many kids of parents who were there barely noticed the presence of said parent(s)? Most of them. Sure, there are special cases when a child benefits greatly from having a parent, but for the most part, kids have a great time if their parents are there and have a great time if they aren’t.
I can also speak from the experience of growing up with a single, working mom who would have given anything to be the chaperone on those trips but simply could not. I never even gave it a second thought and in fact liked having the independence of being in some exciting new adventure with just my classmates. I also know from year’s of attending my daughter’s field trips that I was doing it more for my benefit than for hers.
Because I know this in my head, it makes no sense to feel guilt about falling short a “100% Parent Attendance” bar that I have set for myself over the years. So this week I stood tough and looked my 8-year-old straight in the eyes and said, “Honey, I’m sorry, mommy won’t make it to the field trip on Friday…and it’s the dog’s fault.”
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P.S. I just received this photo of my son from the field trip (which he is surviving without me) with a note that she was feeling guilty being on the field trip instead of being home preparing for Spring Break. See – there’s enough mom guilt for everyone to share!