After completing work, I headed to pick up my son. I was interested to hear more details about Field Day and was relieved that he handled it better than expected. I could hear the kids out on the field as I got closer. I tried to identify my TBP amongst the participants. I actually thought I might find him near the cooler or in the shade; however, no such luck.
I entered the office and was met by the principal. He said that he just saw my son and that he would walk out with me. It took a few moments, but we found my TBP and he came running over to me. At first, he smiled and then as he got closer…I realized that he had been crying. His smile turned sad and he hugged me as if he hadn’t seen me for days. “Where were you??” “I just got here and came straight to find you.” He stared at me and said, “You didn’t come to the BBQ! I was the only one that didn’t have a parent and I was so scared and embarrassed!I didn’t eat my lunch at all and I just wanted to cry.”
“My son…I had no idea that the BBQ meant that much to you.” I turned to look at the principal who was still standing there and I felt judged. “I am very sorry, but I had to work and I truly didn’t think about it.” We started to walk away and he repeated what he had previously said. This time, he added that everyone watched him as he sat by himself.
Insert knife into heart.
We walked into the school to get his backpack and as we walked through the gym, we met his teacher. She stopped us to say good-bye. As my son walked ahead, she turned to me and said…”I know how busy it is this time of year, but he was very upset that you weren’t there. Perhaps next year, you could plan to attend.”
I felt myself stumble over my words…Oh my god!! I was THAT parent! I was the parent that didn’t come and the staff was thinking…”of all the kids NOT to have a parent, who would have expected him?! I felt the judging and the worse part was…I recognized the judgment because I have dished it out myself! I actually could envision the teacher talking with her husband tonight saying,”do you know which kid was the only one that didn’t have his mother…you guessed it!”
I could say that I didn’t know about the BBQ, which by the way…my son says each letter separately and doesn’t say barbecue, but that would be a lie. I honestly didn’t expect that every kid but mine would be represented. Also, this was the third year for this tradition and my son never mentioned it before.
We all make mistakes and if I was reading this post and someone else wrote it, I would say…he will get over it. I know that you are right. He will and actually…he did before it was dinner. The sad thing is that I still feel terrible. I wish that I could rewind the day and get a “do-over” and this time I would go to the stinking B-B-Q!
When I told my mother about this, she reminded me that it shows he now cares about things that in the past, he didn’t think about. He cares about the social aspects of school. I suppose she is right and that this is another way that we are seeing progress. Today, little misery loves company so…tell me a mistake…just one! It will help this guilt-filled mama!
0h my goodness if little misery wants company ….. Which of the many incidents that immediately come to mind shall I pick. Here’s one that still hurts when I think about it.. I had just started my son at a new school, transition obviously hard and stressfull and I had organized myself a trip to the spa to recover a little from the long period he had been home. I sat in the hot tub and it was so hard to get out I pushed it right up to the clock when I would have to leave to pick him up. I wasn’t familiar with the place and I had underestimated the time it would take – there was construction and traffic jams which I had to sit in in a total panic – of course I called ahead that I would be late but sure enough when I got there my son had become totally upset and scared and had become uncontrollable
Because I really wanted to sit the hot tub – how’s that ? Hope it makes you feel better
Enough misery – this is life, we are human, we do our best, because of the kids we have we undertake Herculean feats of parenting with many many successes every day. That you are an outstanding mother is obvious to all your blog readers. Forgive yourself, the love you have shines through your blog
Thank you! I really needed that! I truly appreciate your kind words! Thanks for the support and I hope you visit again!
I had one situation where my daughter had an infection on her hand. I was soooo busy and of course Pete was gone so I couldn’t take her to the doctor myself so I asked a friend. I kept saying it was just a sliver that was stuck. It turned out she had a staff infection and they had to cut off the tip of her finger to test in and clean it. I felt so horrible that I wasn’t the one there comforting her. I also never thought I would be the parent that gives their kid some Tylenol and then sends them to school for a while, but I HAVE been and more than once!! I have judged those people so many times. I’ve missed some things because of work and at the time felt guilty, but time goes by. There will be so many things you ARE there for that this will seem like nothing. It makes me sad that a principal would stand there while your child says you were the only one not there. I’m pretty sure that’s not true and she could do a better job to help kids understand. I’ve had a hard time in the past with the schools having events that not all parents can come to. The teachers and other staff should make a point to eat with those kids so its fun for everyone. As a parent when I come to something and a child doesn’t have a parent there I invite them to sit with us and at a couple things I brought some treats in my bag that I share with those kids. My children may understand better our not being at everything because of having a parent in the military who missed about half of their life. I do my best to be there, but I can’t always and kids have to learn and understand that we are doing our best. Don’t beat yourself up!! Pretty soon he will ask you not to come that was this year. At each event my son said parents can come, but please DON’T!!!
Thank you so much!
I was very hard on myself and feel bad about it!
You are so right…the time will soon come where he won’t want us to be hovering!
You are doing great!! Don’t beat yourself up!! When I have things that happen like that I tell my best friend and she shares similar stories. You should not feel judged because we all have times we wish we could rewind!!
BTW I should not type without my glasses on so my sentences make more sense!!
I get in trouble when I am multitasking and then the autocorrect messes me up! 🙂
Here’s to a good summer for all the kids 🙂
Been there, done that.
I was a single parent with my oldest & working like a dog. I missed quite a few special events. At one point she started would tell me the function coming up, immediately followed with my “excuse”. That was my Aha moment. I had so much guilt prior but that broke me.
She knew that work was necessary for survival but I had to be honest with myself; she was the only necessary thing in my life & I was treating her like she was expendable. I made it a point to do better at making the events because I knew what it felt like to be the only kid without someone to show up for them. That added a whole other layer of guilt, how could I have become MY mother?
It took several more years to work out a good balance but it happened & she hasn’t entered therapy for all my mistakes (yet). Lol.
It is so hard to forgive ourselves & one things for sure; we judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else could. Even when eyes are looking at us with criticism, it is our own inner voice condemning us.
What your mother said is great, at least he cares. It doesn’t take the hurt away but hurt is better than apathy. Hugs to you & TBP 🙂
Thank you for stopping by and commenting!
I totally get what everyone is saying 🙂
I think I am harder on myself because of my career and I know that he sometimes feels that I am giving my attention to other people’s kids when he should be getting it.
This was a good reminder that I need to ask him his feelings about something instead of assuming 🙂