I have to work this Sunday. My clients typically do not want to hear me say things like I want to be home to tuck my children into bed, it’s family day or I’m sorry my boys have a game. They want me on call at all times of the day. I don’t blame them. Technology has given us the quick fire response. The hitting of a key or button has induced this constant state of urgency among people. Hell, I’ve even trained my clients by being Suzy on the spot for the past ten years.
There is a huge disconnect between real people time and world-wide web time. I think real people time is now getting the short stick. I never want to lose my passion for my career nor make my children feel like they are a nuisance. There is a fine line between work and home and it’s a delicate art balancing it all.
I have extreme working mommy guilt. So, I over commit and over schedule things for myself with respect to being all in for my kids and their school events. Usually I get flustered. Not because I can’t handle it but because it takes me away from what matters most, my children. So the past twelve months I have said that one syllable word, no, more than I ever have. So instead of Room Mom I am just parent volunteer now. I get the same amount of hands on time without the planning and organizing task. Simple. So you might think?
Anyways, I am working this weekend because I volunteered to help out in my middle son’s kindergarten class for their Valentine’s Day Party. I was delegated the task by Room Mom #2 to bring the sweet treat. Yet, because of all the allergies and sugar addictions I had to submit what I would be bringing. If you know me and how I bake it’s a pinch of this and a smidgen of that. So, I had to actually find a recipe. Room Mom #1 recommends for me to set up an account on Pinterest for ideas. Really? I am quite qualified to come up with some original and festive treats on my own. She gets really bothered and indicates to me she sent me an invite on Pinterest.
Alrighty then, Pinterest to the rescue. I had no time to set up an account but since everyone is pinning, I could too. Pinterest is a creative ideas, arts, crafts and motivational posters sharing world. It forces us to now steal or is it pin other’s ideas and have all our friends ooh and ah us. Don’t get me wrong, there is some hot things on there but is it forcing us to lose our sense of creativity?
So, I find M&M bars and candy bark. I get approval from Room Mom #1, Room Mom #2, Grand Master Head Room Mom, teacher, aide, school nurse, school psychologist, principal and district superintendent. These delectable treats are a go.
So I make them up the night before the party while entertaining a friend, cooking dinner, doing homework and watching my children NERF each other to exhaustion. Now the easy part, set the timer and let them bake. That is until your newly potty trained son is running around naked from the waist down shooting his NERF gun at our guest. What the? He proceeds to tell me he peed on the basement carpeting. So, I pseudo clean that up and tell him to go upstairs and get some clothes. In the meantime, his other brothers come running down the stairs to tell me, this same child now pooped upstairs. Oh my heavens.
In the midst of all the chaos I forgot about the baked goods. Oh they were baked alright. They were definitely done, toasted, burnt and disgusting. I am two glasses of wine into the evening, 1.5 children tucked into bed and 11 minutes away by expressway to the grocer. No thank you.
So the next day I planned on giving myself an in home manicure at 5:00 a.m., working a half day plus a few and then stopping to pick up some M&M cookies. Bars or cookies, who’s keeping track? Fault numero uno right there. The PTA secret service is, that’s who. Anyways I woke early and began my manicure prep. Now I must disclose here that last Saturday I treated myself to a manicure. I was asked 40 times if I wanted a shellac/gel manicure and I kindly replied each time, “No thank you!” I do not have time to come back and get it removed and keep up with that kind of routine. This is a small treat I do for myself once in a while.
So naturally when I went to remove my polish on Valentine’s Day morning, it should come off, right? I didn’t insert my hands into an ultraviolet light drying contraption. Why won’t this polish come off? Come on already. I soak them and still no polish removed. My nails looked hideous and my skin was forming 2 inch paper cut lacerations from the acetone bath soak. I can’t even call the nail salon because it is 5:30 in the morning. The day must go on and it does.
So when I get the kids off to school and tuck myself into my office chair, I call the nail salon. I explain to them I did not have a shellac/gel manicure and that my nail polish will not come off. The nail representative replies, “Oh we use a gel topcoat to make your french manicure last very long. You can come here and we can take it off and do another manicure for you, okay?” No it is not okay. I need this polish off. This is not what I asked for. I reply, “I am not wanting another manicure. I want my polish off and now maybe a refund for my inconvenience.” Her reply, “NO, I will not give you both. You don’t like that we tried to do something nice for you well than I am too busy to talk to you!” Click. Are you for real?
Time to forget the nails, I needed cookies. And the M & M cookies were there all right at the store. Yep, one pack of ten cookies left. A whole table of M & M cookies sold out. So I had to get chocolate chip brownie stuffed cookies instead.
I arrive at the party start time not set-up time and run into the classroom. The room moms turn and give me a stern eye with folded arms while proudly displaying their VISITOR badge. One proceeds to say, “We were getting nervous because we didn’t think you were coming.” Right, I know because being on time now constitutes late. Then Room Mom #1 goes through my bag and says, “Umm, where are the M & M bars?”
I explain what happened and they become frantic and all like, how are we going to serve these without the Head Room Mom’s approval? So I grab the cookies, run down to the nurse and principal and they okay them. There, done. It was in that moment that I realized I had been in my son’s classroom and school for at least 12 minutes now and never even acknowledged him. That’s when I put my foot down to these women and said, “I’m here for my child and his friends. I am going to say hello to him now!”
I ran over to him and could see the disappointment in his eyes and just gave him the biggest hug. I wanted to bury myself in his shoulders and cry but these Pinterest freaks are not getting the best of me. So, I gather myself and walk over to the orange table to help the children assemble their bead necklaces. Now mind you they have been inserting micro-mini beads on a wire for the past fifteen minutes. Owen J. turns to me and says, “I’m done, can you tie it together?” Sure buddy, I sure can.
See because in the eyes of a child you can do no wrong. A cookie is a cookie and being on time is whenever. Until I go to twist the wire and my severely numb, acetone cracked fingers get pierced by the wire end and I drop the necklace. A gazillion beady things go flying everywhere and Owen J. starts screaming and crying, “Noochie’s mom ruined my necklace!”
I literally dropped to my knees. My poor son was horrified because nobody wanted his mom near their necklaces. Room Mom #1 walks over and just when I thought she would put her hand on my shoulder and reassure me she goes, “How about you just put those cookies of yours on the plates. You did bring the plates right?” Huh? I was supposed to bring plates too?
I’m banned as a parent volunteer, I am sure, for life. I feel horrible for my son as I think I did more harm than good, by being there. He will always have the mom who ruined Owen J’s necklace.
Just as the bad mom stigma couldn’t get any worse the teacher called out all the children whose mothers helped out because they get to go home early. No, no please don’t. I can’t take him home because I have to finish up my work day at a client’s house across town. In front of the room mothers, my son, his teacher and all his peers I had to mumble, “He can’t come home with me because I have to work.” The words I have hated saying since all three of my boys were born.
I want you to know if you are that mom or dad struggling daily to be all in for your kids and your career, that it is okay to fail once in a while. It is okay if you don’t have the perfect craft or cutest felt frog to pin the heart on. It’s okay if you ruined Owen J’s necklace. It’s okay because I demonstrated to the kids that nobody is perfect. That accidents can and will happen. That how we respond under crisis is when our true character is formed. I told the orange table this and the blue table and green and red. I still got just as many hugs as Room Mom #1 and Room Mom #2.
Nobody is perfect. You don’t have to have a Pinterest account to make you a good parent. Being there for your children, no matter what happens, is what matters most to them. And I can promise you that if you are ever that mom or dad, struggling, hurting or treading in the deep end, I will not push you under but help you float! I promise!
So I ask, do you juggle family and career? Do you have mom or dad guilt? Do you Pinterest and if so, do you think it makes you a better parent? Do we volunteer to out do each other or to be involved in our kid’s lives?