I heard it over and over and over again when teachers, friends, parents, and family learned I couldn’t attend our daughter’s Kindergarten graduation this week.
“Oh no! (horrendous gasp) That’s awful. Aren’t you so upset?”
Quite honestly, I wasn’t. And I’m curious if they would have had the same reaction if it was her father missing the ceremony instead of me.
Sure I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t see her proudly walk the stage in her cute cap. I mean it’s not like kids graduate every year…oh wait yeah they do. I also wanted to see her performance that she’s been singing the last two months, and be there to celebrate the end of the school year. But it’s not like I’m an absent parent, I was room mom this year and basically lived at her elementary school!
As for the graduation, I did everything I could to make sure I was involved; I bought her a special dress and sandals for the big night, I instructed her daddy to bring her two dozen pink roses for after the ceremony, and asked him to record every second on video. But there comes a time in every woman and mother’s life where you have to put yourself first. So for the first time ever I did, and ditched the mom guilt. Boy did it feel good.
The last six years I’ve been living in a strange limbo of a working mom, a stay at home mom, and a work at home mom. Sure I’ve held on to as many television jobs as I could, and even started this website…a professional freelancer so to speak. But because conception was so difficult for us, I’ve wanted to be with the girls as much as possible. They feel like such an incredible gift, so I chose to put my career aspirations and dreams on hold and neglected myself; no working out, or girls nights, or applying for those next jobs. But let’s be real, if mom isn’t happy it effects the entire family…and lately I’ve been feeling stuck.
So when the call came to co-host as a spokesperson for a major national brand in a new series of web videos…I couldn’t say no. When opportunity knocks you have to tear down the door! And I surprised myself by not feeling even an ounce of mom guilt when the shoot just happened to fall on the day of Lila’s Kindergarten graduation. Nada, zilch…ZERO. It felt like a metamorphosis into a new world…and I was finally ready to take the next step. Boy did it feel good.
Of course I spoke to Lila before I accepted the job, and explained that mommy had to go on a road trip. Her little lip quivered for a second, but I told her we would Skype the night of her graduation and her Nana was coming. She was completely unfazed so I prepared to head out on my first solo road trip in seven years.
Prior to having children, I traveled all the time. First as an assistant producer for the Orlando Magic – which was how I met my husband. Then after the 2006 NBA Finals, Fox Sports Florida hired me to be a correspondent for a college football show. I traveled the state to find interesting feature stories on up and coming collegiate athletes in Tampa, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and beyond. I loved the fact that each day was a new story and a new adventure. And when I was pregnant with our first, I commuted from South Florida to Orlando as a feature reporter for the Orlando Magic.
But after I had that sweet baby our lives changed forever, and the thought of leaving her was torture. A premature delivery, coupled with a a blood patch and postpartum anxiety disorder, and I didn’t leave her for a single night until she was nearly two years old. And the only solo vacation my husband I have ever had in seven years was a short ski weekend last year.
Moms of every age and in every situation admit to feeling guilt over everything. Should we make time to workout? Is it fair to go to work when my kids are sick? Should I put away my phone and stay off social media? Mom guilt can strike when we least expect it and envelope our hearts and minds. But it’s up to us to ignore it, release it, and accept our decisions. I feel like I’ve finally taken a step back into my former life, and am slowly starting to figure out that elusive working mom balance. Boy does it feel good!
Sure it’s difficult. We all want to raise emotionally happy and secure kids, be there to kiss every boo boo, and see every milestone. But you know what…children can also learn so much more from us by watching us work. Seeing us live and enjoy our passions, and understanding that women can work and be moms if they choose…have it all so to speak. It’s an important example to set regardless of whether you work or where. If our kids see us working towards and achieving our dreams, maybe they’ll be inspired to do the same.
Yesterday morning at our end of the school year volunteer breakfast I heard it again, “I didn’t see you at graduation, you must have felt terrible to miss it.” I replied, “Sometimes moms have to work, life goes on. I’m here now though and she knows she’s loved. That’s all that matters.”
And as I watched the encore performance of the song they sang at graduation, I felt the surge of emotion I’m sure I would have felt that night. I may not have been with her physically, but my heart was, and always will be with her wherever I am.
…and damn does it feel good.
Good for you! The problem with Mom Guilt is that we’re usually the only ones affected by it. I bet 99% of the things we feel guilty over don’t even make a blip on our kids’ radars. I always feel like I need to be at all the things, but when I can’t for some reason, my kids are absolutely fine. Thanks for this reminder!
Janine Huldie says
We were literally just talking about this the other day with all that comes up in the month of June and end of school activities, including graduations for kindergarten and pre-school. We were wondering if the schools realize or care that many moms do work nowadays and to expect us to attend a few different activities and take off continually from work isn’t fair. I mean next week alone between both my girls, I have something to attend 3 out of the 5 days. Seriously, it is just crazy, but love how you handled this and you are right sometimes moms do have to work and it is unavoidable.
I know there are so many school functions and PTO events – it’s as if school can become OUR full time job!
Aileen @NewsyParents says
Good for you! If it was for the normal job duties not a major gig like you were doing, I would’ve felt mom guilt. But you have to go after what you want. I just wish I could get some of your broadcasting luck to come my way. Congrats!
Good for you! We all get too hunkered down by mom guilt and it’s ridiculous! Life happens and we can’t be there for every single thing!
Michelle @ Sunshine and Hurricanes.com says
AMEN!!!! You are SO right on with every point. Letting go of the mom guilt makes you a BETTER mom, this certainly won’t be the last thing your child graduates from! 😉 PS: I have a huge chip with the graduating from EVERY. DANG. GRADE. these days.
And getting a trophy for everything right? So annoying…but yes I feel so much better…it’s like I figured out the secret!
Good for you!! I wish I could drop the mommy guilt, but it is so hard for me. I tell myself not to feel guilty and I totally agree with all your reasons, but I just can’t get myself to believe it all, even though I KNOW I am doing nothing wrong and my kids are fine, blah blah. Hopefully I will grow into that place soon, since mommy guilt wears me down.
good decision… mama has to be happy for her family to be happy. while i think there’s actually a place for some Mom guilt in certain situations – this was not one of them! congrats on your gig!
Matt C. says
If you don’t take care of your inner self you’ll be less likely to have a positive affect on the world around you. It may feel selfish or counterintuitive but feeding your soul is important to your overall viability, parenting included. Your wisdom and philosophical bent is both good for you and for your family. You set a wonderful example every day and your children are incredibly lucky to have you guiding their perceptions. I’m sure they’ll tell you that themselves…eventually!
Oh my gosh you look amazing in that picture of you on screen!! Ah the guilt, ditched that a long time ago. With 4 kids I just cannot show up to everything. I figure they are happy, healthy and have loads of people who love them and they know it, so nixing unnecessary guilt is the way to go! Good for you for and great post!
Yes Jen! You’ve figured it out…I was just a bit behind!
Aubrey @ 53weeks says
Good for you…the guilt is SO HARD to deal with for me, but you’re right if MOM’s not happy…nobody is!!!
Andrea B. says
Yay! I love this post! I’ve had to ditch the mom guilt a lot this year, for trips and school lunches and the like. Not even because of work alone, but other reasons. It’s so hard. But we all have to make the choices that work for us and remember we’re great mamas.
Also – I was looking at the pic and thought, hey, is that Danielle? You guys look great! Congrats on this opportunity.
Yes it IS Danielle and she was simply lovely! Was wonderful working with her AND getting away for awhile.
I’m sorry you had to miss it, but to be totally honest – I think all the graduations are kind of silly. I was glad we didn’t have one (although other moms were raging that we didn’t, so go figure).
You are setting a great example for your kids!
I agree! They are silly and of course cost $$. It’s always something!
Danielle Smith says
Good for you! I’m so happy to know you feel peaceful about our trip, about this decision, about a project that was so good. This is a battle we all experience internally from time to time, but our kids are truly just fine – they are loved and occasionally spoiled, they are catered to and nurtured all the time. You keep loving them and making the decisions that are right for both of you. xoxo
I’m glad the trip went well. What’s funny about mom guilt is that we often focus on what we don’t do rather than all that we do – do. I love that you have truly found and reveled in it. You do – do so much for your girls from the DIY cakes to the fun butterfly activities. Those will be the big memories. I need to ditch my own guilt and start following in your footsteps. Thank you for always being a mentor to me.
Mom guilt is a curious thing, and it likes to hang around for a lifetime! We want everything to be perfect for them, all the while knowing things can’t and shouldn’t be perfect, and that it is okay and necessary that they aren’t. My daughter is almost 19 and I still struggle from time to time. I love your comment about the importance of our kids seeing us work toward achieving our dreams. I was a stay at home/homeschooling mom, but there were opportunities (paid and unpaid) throughout the years where I had the chance to pursue something I LOVED. She was my biggest cheerleader. To hear her say, “I am so proud of you!” was astounding. And even now as I have started this blog, I feel a little guilt when I need to work on it while she is home for the summer. She is the first to tell me that this work is important. Now I get to watch her work toward her dreams, and it is an amazing thing to watch.
Found your blog today at #SITSSharefest; it’s my first time visiting, but I am now following you all over social media! 🙂
Paula Kiger says
Congrats to her on her kindergarten graduation! And to you on your opportunity! 🙂
I think so much of the mom guilt is taught and ingrained in us because of the way our society functions. It’s getting better, don’t get me wrong….working moms are more popular now than ever and there are mandates in place to protect breast pumping moms and all that jazz….but preschools are still scheduling dad’s day on Saturdays and mom’s day during the day on a weekday. It’s outrageously sexist and makes absolutely no sense….and it makes you feel like shit for not being enough and doing enough and taking off work enough.
I’m glad you got your time in. You look beautiful!
So glad you did this for yourself! 🙂
Preach it, girl!!! Love everything about this post!! Mom guilt comes in all shapes and forms & you’re so right, we just have to accept and move on. camt wait to check out the new web series!!
What an awesome opportunity! I would have jumped on it also. Our school doesn’t even have a kindergarten graduation but they do have an end of the year performance. The MPR is so crowded, my daughter probably wouldn’t even miss me.
I think it’s great. I actually asked Scarlet’s teacher if there was a kindergarten graduation and she said, “Nope!” And I was happy. We did that last year after preschool, so we can wait until 8th or 12th grade, or whenever the next graduation will be!
There will be more! And there are photos and skype in the meantime.
Lisa Smith says
I have seven children. I have been to 7 kindergarten graduations. So far, we’ve also had 6 fifth grade graduations, 5 eighth grade graduations, 4 high school graduations, and 2 college graduations. Not one of my 7 would have held it against me for missing their kindergarten graduation. Good for you. Once in a while we have to work and our kids have to understand. Good for you. Taping it and sending that flowers was brilliant.
You hit the nail on the head when you said, would people say the same thing if it was her father missing it. I say good for you!
The greatest gift you could have given both your daughter and yourself. I also think society puts too much pressure on children by having them constantly “graduate.” The other day my three year old got a trophy on the last day of her gymnastics class. She is three! It would never have occurred to her to be rewarded for the privilege of a nice class. So I think it is good for mothers to keep that in mind, too, when something of real value for their lives comes up!
Fathers feel it too. Both of my kids graduated this year, at the same time and on the same day. So I couldn’t be at both.
A few years ago work took me out of state for almost an entire year. Sometimes we make hard choices to help our families, not easy but necessary.
Sandy Ramsey says
Good for you! I think that we spend so much time caring for other people that our own needs and wants get thrown to the wind. Motherhood changes a person so very much and I will be the first to admit that some days, I miss the grind of being out in the world. The most important thing is Lila feels loved and I’m sure she does. I think in the process she may have learned a very important lesson about being a mom.
Oh we all have that guilt! It can be so tough sometimes. I’m glad you are ditching it though! They have so many of those graduation celebrations now a days. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to see your daughter walk across a stage in a cap and gown.
Lori Schumaker says
I love this post (and your blog, by the way)! Mommy guilt is one of the enemy’s ways of stopping us from living out all that we have been called to in life. I was once told to carefully discern between conviction and guilt. Conviction is productive and urges toward solving a problem or making a good decision. Guilt is not factual and plays on our emotions and is counterproductive. That little bit of wisdom has helped me immensely!
I’m so thrilled I found your site through The Sits Girls! I’m a Mama to two avid basketball boys so my world is filled with sports so what a great place for my heart to land 🙂
Blessings and smiles,
It’s so nice to meet you Lori! And I love that your boys play basketball! Whenever I start to feel guilty and my heart hurts I always say to myself, “guilt is an emotion fueled by your thoughts…change your thoughts. They know they are loved.” It works!