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Work/Life: “Good” Mothers Don’t Miss Back-to-School Night

A couple of months ago, I got an invitation to a national gathering of flexibility experts. This was a unique opportunity to spend two days sharing best practices with some of the most respected individuals in my field, and guess what my first thought was? “Oh, I can’t go because I will miss back to school night.”

A couple of months ago, I got an invitation to a national gathering of flexibility experts. This was a unique opportunity to spend two days sharing best practices with some of the most respected individuals in my field, and guess what my first thought was? “Oh, I can’t go because I will miss back to school night.”

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That’s right. As I looked at my calendar to see if I could attend this once-in-a-lifetime event, my primary concern was back-to-school night and the how I couldn’t possibly miss it. Looking back now, it sounds silly. But in the moment, the choice seemed very clear. And it wasn’t attending the meeting.

Thankfully, I snapped out of it quickly and logically rethought my decision. I realized that my daughters would survive if I didn’t go to back to school night because their dad was more than capable of handling it. Furthermore, I would be missing out on a professional opportunity which was very important to me.

But don’t think I didn’t feel major guilt for a couple of days as, “how can a good mother miss back to school night?” kept ringing through my head. It made me stop and wonder how the definitions of a “good” mother, father, or adult child of an aging parent influence our work+life decisions.

In the end, I went to my meeting and it was wonderful. When I arrived home my absence from back to school night wasn’t even noticed as my husband competently navigated the visits to each classroom and left loving notes in each of their desks. Would he have done that if I’d been there? Probably not.

So, not only did I get a chance of a lifetime, my girls had evidence of how much their dad loves them that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It was a win-win. Maybe a “good” mother can miss back to school night after all.

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Can you relate? Have your personal definitions of what a “good” parent or adult child of aging parents should do led to unnecessary work+life guilt?