Fighting Mom Guilt When Work Wins Over Your Kids' Holiday Events

Almost every year I miss one to three of the school holiday parties for one to all three of my children.  This is because the month of December requires usually two business trips; one to the West Coast and one to the East Coast.   

2018 was no exception. I missed both of my pre-schoolers festivities; a gingerbread making class for my daughter in the threes and a cookie-making-sing for my son in the fours.  My parents went to one and my husband to the other and I went to holiday parties in DC and New York.  Was I miserable about missing them?  No, except for when I actually thought about it and then went into sociopathic compartmentalization mode. 

What I told myself is that my parents were having a wonderful time with their granddaughter (which they did) and that my middle guy was so excited to have daddy at school (which he was).  It did not mean that I wanted to be there any less.  And so I turned to my holiday party friend, dirty martini, Titos, straight up with three olives and enjoyed colleagues and friends.  

The plus side of a recent promotion is that I will likely be able to delegate the West Coast trip to a direct report (however, the East Coast trip is required).  The hope is that the planning will allow me to be at the very last pre-school holiday party.  It makes me happy to believe I will get to hear my daughter sing an off-key latke song.  Really, I am a simple person. 

My mom had an article that she had attached to our refrigerator when we were kids.  The title was “Sunsets Don’t Last Very Long.”  I remember being little and trying to have my mom read it or at least summarize it for me.  She couldn’t. Basically the article equated childhood and sunsets; beautiful but all too short.  

Work has given me many wonderful opportunities, but it cannot give me back this time when my children are young. So even with the travel, I have pushed for more time to work from home and take opportunities to do drop off and pick up as well as volunteer at school.  Just present enough to see the excitement in my babies’ faces when I show up. There is nothing better.  Except maybe a dirty martini at sunset.