A Mother’s Guilt, Continued

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.”

Published by Erin Rehill

A few years ago, my then eight-year-old daughter told me that she wished I could write down all the things I told her so that she wouldn’t forget them when she got older. In that moment, my daughter gave me such a sense of validation, something I hadn’t really experienced in that way. As parents, we don’t often receive confirmation from our children that we are doing a good job, or that we even know what we are talking about. Since that time, I’ve started to pay more attention to the things I tell her, often thinking to myself “Will she remember this when she is older?” So, this is for her, my words of advice to be read, thought about, laughed at, and maybe even used, when she is older.

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  1. While there is no handbook written to raise children, there are some unwritten motherhood commandments. The first commandment is: Thou shalt have guilt! As mothers, we can have it all. However, we cannot have it all at the same time. If you cannot attend this important occasion, is there a substitute favorite person that might be able to go in your place?

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