Diaries of a working mother: Embracing the Second best option
Episode (2): Nothing beats the thrill of seeing your child perform at school, and nothing beats the frustration of not being able to see it. A few weeks back, I received an invitation on Sunday morning to attend a Thursday morning show. Schedule was pretty much jammed and unfortunately, I couldn’t move the slot that coincided with the show.
Nothing beats the thrill of seeing your child perform at school, and nothing beats the frustration of not being able to see it.
Breaking the news to my 5 years old was a tough mission. “Mom, I really want you to be there…. I worked hard on my performance and everybody’s mommy will be there”… ouch, the second part stabbed me like a knife. “My love, not everybody’s mommy is a working mommy. I am very sorry I can’t make it, I tried but it didn’t work. But guess what!? Daddy will come … yaaaay”. He looked me in the eye, and he didn’t need to say it. I felt it; his disappointment, his sadness and yeah, his ability in picking up the fake “yaaay” sound I made in the end. What a smart generation. We’ve all been in a similar situation, things getting out of control and nothing can be done about it. If you’re a typical woman, you would probably overthink and overcomplicate matters; flip it in your head a few times; and succeed each and every time to give yourself a guilty verdict. Right? As I said in my first episode, guilt serves no one any good. We need to get out of the guilt trap very fast. The solution? I call it: maximizing the second best option. The ride to school was daunting that morning. He was giving me the silence treatment along with the straight face – have to admit, it was cute. I needed to break the ice and started a random discussion then asked him to sing the song he was performing. He made it clear that I can come to the show if I want to see it. I wondered, 5 years and already a tough negotiator? What a generation. After a few rounds of begging, he started to respond. Shy performance at the beginning but by the end of the drive it was loud, clear and happy. I sang along, purposely goofed up some of the words, and yes! I managed to crack a few beautiful and genuine smiles. I was relieved We reached school and as we entered his class, his friend ran towards us beaming with joy and cried, “both my mommy and my daddy are coming to the show!” I went down to his level, looked into his teary eyes, and could see straight into his soul. I said, “you know that mommy loves you. I wish I can be there, but I can’t. I am sad, too”. He responded, “I know, and I love you too”. I hugged him and let him go; it was too much to ask him for a happy face … I will not lie to you. I felt like crap. Not only because I let him down, but because I really wanted to be there. I called my husband and made sure he makes it on time and record the whole thing on video.
I will not lie to you. I felt like crap. Not only because I let him down, but because I really wanted to be there.
I finished work early on that day. I dashed into the house with a big energetic “Hello” and a “Where is my little performer” at the top of my lungs. We watched the video together, a million times, I even got him to stand up and perform so I can catch up with what I missed. It was a happy evening; we laughed, we sang and we danced. It felt good, I could even argue it gave me something that the best option wouldn’t have given me. It gave me the opportunity to bond with my child at a different level, it gave him an opportunity to understand the importance of respecting commitments even if your heart is set on doing something else, it taught him that we can’t always get what we want, but we can contend and be happy with the second best option if we give it a try.
It gave me the opportunity to bond with my child at a different level, it gave him an opportunity to understand the importance of respecting commitments
I hope we will always find ways to be there for our kids, but when we can’t, let’s be upfront with our kids and discuss it with them; before and after. The second best option is good enough, but only if you embrace it and give it a fair chance. *The Arabic version of this article can be found here. *The first episode can be found here.