On The Verge
Summer Vacation begins tomorrow at 12:10 pm.
Looking back, I can't believe the year is gone already. I mean, it isn't like I was particularly engaged this year, what with the return to work and all. But still - I feel like I was a lousy parent-of-an-elementary-school-kid this year, and I've got guilt about how I could have been better. How I should have volunteered or sent goodies for the parties or corrected homework (or hell, made my kids do their homework) or something. I should have done something to participate.
Today, my daughter's class had a picnic in the park. When I finally detangled myself from my computer and the phone and got my five-year-old dressed and a snack packed, we arrived as the picnic was winding down. My daughter sprinted across the park and met up with me, worry in her eyes and a small frown on her face.
"Mom, the party started a hour ago! You said you'd be here. Why weren't you here?"
I gave her a kiss and a hug and died a little bit.
"I got stuck on the phone, and when I looked up, I was late. I'm sorry honey, I'm so sorry."
She shrugged and grabbed her sister's hand. "It's okay, Mama. You're here now." As they ran off together to play, I sniffled a bit and pulled myself together. A fellow mom handed me a cupcake-in-a-cone.
I know I can't be everywhere at once, and I can't be everything to everybody, and that lots of parents work and lots of parents don't volunteer and lots of parents are late to the party. I just never thought I'd be that parent. If you would have asked me five years ago, I would have told you all about how involved I was going to be, how I would enrich and encourage, how I would Be There.
And today, I could have Been There. And I was. But I was late, well past the point when I would have earned good mom credit. It pains me just thinking about it.
My daughter slipped her arms around me at the sink tonight and laying her firm cheek against my arm, she said "I'm so happy you made it in time to see me play dodge ball, Mama."
The guilt came swimming back to the surface and I blurted "I can't believe I missed the whole picnic!"
My girl said "Yeah, well, what were you gonna do? Watch me chew? I liked seeing you there while I played kickball."
I wish I could go back and redo so many of these chances for me to Be There for all three of my kids. But maybe, just maybe, I need to focus on Being Here Now for them instead.