For those of you who are with me on Facebook, you might remember my sad post about a month ago that I would have to miss my daughter’s kindergarten play. The date the school had on the calendar was, unbeknownst to me, a placeholder, and that date was changed at the last minute. It was changed to a date when I was scheduled to be out of town. At a conference. A non-negotiable work obligation.
I was devastated.
I was going to miss this, her kindergarten “theater” debut, which was a big deal for my pop-star-drama-loving starlet. Shows are her thing. Performance is her personality. And I was going to miss it.
As a responsible working mom, I reacted fairly normally by calling up Husband and announcing that I was going to need to quit my job so as not to miss the kindergarten play. (Hmmmm … I wonder if we might have a drama gene in the family.)
He responded, as he always does, calmly and rationally. He just said, “No.”
“No, you’re not quitting your job. And you’re not missing the show. We don’t miss these things. We will work it out.”
His calm demeanor helped to deescalate my concerns. I took a deep breath and tried to think through everything. I explained to my manager that I couldn’t miss this school function, and an amazing friend at work stepped up to attend the conference in my place. It worked out so easily and smoothly, I almost felt like I had overreacted initially. (Not that I would ever admit to such a thing.)
But if you do feel that calling my behavior an overreaction is accurate, I might not disagree with you on this particular point. Balancing work and family is such a difficult act. From emotional aspects to logistics, it’s almost an entirely different job in and of itself. And, it is so overwhelming, especially when you throw in components like travel or “lifestyle” jobs that do not follow a traditional 8-5 schedule.
My daughter was in a Kindergarten play. And I almost missed it.
I almost missed her belting out Fifty Nifty United States at the top of her lungs. I almost missed her flawless execution of every dance move and hand motion. I almost missed her impeccable performance as the bronze Statue of Liberty.
I almost missed her pre-show jitters, her fears that her costume wasn’t just right, her uneasiness at the height of the crown. I almost missed the opportunity to talk her through those fears and to make a plan to overcome them (make up and gold bracelet tattoos, of course). I almost missed the chance to watch all of her concerns instantly evaporate when the other kids admired her shiny outfit.
I almost missed it all.
But I didn’t miss a thing, not one single part of this very special occasion. Yes, I was fortunate enough to figure out the details of my work schedule, but there is another reason I was able to be there last night … We simply have a rule in our family, a rule that may have even gone unspoken until this very incident. The rule is this: We don’t miss these things. We will work it out. We do not choose work over family. Ever.
I am so grateful that Husband calmly said these words out loud to me that day, because my initial reaction was to worry. I was worried about how it would appear if I missed a work function for a school play. I was worried that I was asking for too much flexibility at work at the same time I worried about letting down my child, who arguably counts on me more than anyone else ever possibly could.
My initial reaction was to try to make it all work, to make possible the impossible. I thought that meant that I should find a way to be in two places at the same time or die trying (there’s that drama again).
But it didn’t need to be that complicated. Making it all work does not necessarily require me to say yes every time to everything. I had to accept that sometimes it’s okay to ‘make it all work’ by arranging for a substitute or rescheduling a meeting or delegating a task or even just by declining an opportunity.
On the family front, I may not be the Room Mom at every single party or be the parent chaperone on the field trip, but I will never miss the important things. Ever.
And this play …. It was one of the important things.
I almost missed it. I would have missed it. But we have a rule in our family … We don’t miss these things. Ever.