(I wrote this Friday evening – so any reference to “today” is a couple days off)
Today I failed to balance work/ life. Today I let work win, and I had to break a little boy’s heart. I did the one thing I had promised myself that I wouldn’t do – I missed out on something that was important to one of my children. But instead of completely letting him down, I feel that I remedied the situation to the best of my motherly ability.
Jordan (5) had an end-of-summer-camp soccer game and award ceremony. When you are 5 years old, in your first summer camp, a “BIG GAME” is a big deal – and receiving a medal – even if everyone gets the same medal, is monumental. However, due to our work schedules and office locations, both dada and I were unable to be there in person.
Jordan, the little boy with the big blue eyes, had a hard time hiding his disappointment, which only added to my guilt. Who in their right mind lets down a little boy getting ready to receive a medal for a job well done all week?! This mama – I am the great disappointment of 2014! I was desperate to think of a solution, because watching Jordan mope around, head hanging low, bottom lip pushed out – a pouty face he inherited from me, was truly breaking my heart.
I pulled him aside this morning, opened his little hand and placed a small polished round blue rock in his hand. He looked at me with his sad eyes, the blue color rivaling the rock’s bright tropical ocean color. I asked him to keep the rock in his pocket all day and together we placed it in his left pocket – making sure it was safely in there. Together we patted the outside of his shorts – and we felt the smooth round rock through the plaid soft cotton. He looked at me with anticipation, waiting for my reason for this odd placement of the unusual rock. I explained to him that both dada and I really wanted to be at his “BIG GAME”, but because of meetings we would be unable to be there – in person. Then I promised him that whenever he touched the rock, he could rest assured that we were thinking of him.
He looked at me with a glimmer of doubt in his eyes, but together we touched the rock again through the outside of his pocket. I confirmed that I was thinking of him at that very moment, so he concluded that there had to be some validity to my claim about this magical rock. Off to work I went – heart broken and deflated – but hopeful that at least he felt my love.
My friend who drove him to and from camp reported that he walked into the building like a big boy. He held his head high, walked tall and proud – with his left hand in his pocket – and I sure was thinking of him at that very moment. Later that day I received a series of pictures of videos from my friend. She so sweet to capture the moments that I was unable to share with Jordan in person. The first picture was of Jordan guarding the goal. There he stood, with his camp shirt almost falling off his little narrow frame, protecting the goal with all his might – with his left hand tucked in his pocket – and sure enough, I was thinking of him!
I failed at being in attendance today. I was not there to watch my little boy’s first BIG GAME. But I sure was there in spirit. I watched the clock all morning, following Jordan in his routine and through his camp exercises. I was with him from the time he left the house until he returned back him with a new shirt and a shiny medal around his neck. The medal was still proudly displayed against his little pale chest when I got home. He recounted all the highlights of his day, gave me a big hug – and then showed me the rock in his pocket, where it had been ever since we put it in there together.
A parent’s presence can never be replaced by rocks or even by magic, there is simply no substitute for sharing a special moment in person, and nothing will ever take the place of making memories together. However, life isn’t always perfect, but it is during these times that we grow and learn how to navigate through future imperfections… and then we hug a bit longer and tighter at the end of the day.
How have you handled similar situations? Did your child understand that you couldn’t be in two places at once? What is an event you absolutely would never miss?