When I was working full-time, like many mothers, I felt very guilty for not being able to attend my kids’ field trips or other school functions. I couldn’t wait to get more flexibility in my work so that I could be that mom that helped with the PAC meetings or at school fairs. And when I started working for myself, I tried to attend as many school events as possible.
But then I realized that it wasn’t for me.
Like most mothers, I love my kids more than anything. Every career decision I have made over the last 8-10 years has revolved around them and their well-being. My first business trip after my daughter was born was a complete disaster—I cried the entire flight from Vancouver to Toronto. I became passionate about finding another solution so that I could build the life that I want for myself professionally while allowing myself the flexibility to be around to go to field trips and be present.
Alas, I wasn’t meant to be the mom on school field trips.
As much as I desired to be around for my kids, I found that I just didn’t need to be around them every waking hour. I started by trying to participate at the school, and I felt awkward and out of place. I knew where I fit in in the business world, but in this environment, I wasn’t sure where I slotted in. And while most parents and teachers at the school were welcoming, there were a few that were not. As an introvert, navigating this new situation with an already-determined-hierarchy, it felt like it wasn’t anything to do with my kids at all.
Of course, I did continue to go on some field trips and help when needed with things that I felt I was good at, like makeup for school plays. And I always attended assemblies and concerts. But I eventually found that my choices were really driven by being there at the end of the day when they finished school. I realized that painting props for the school play, where I wasn’t even interacting with my kids, wasn’t a good use of my time. I wanted to be present with them—eye-to-eye—and for them to be present with me.
So now when I am not with them, I am working my tail off so that we can be together and have quality time. So we can sit together and watch our favourite shows, and walk the dog in the evenings. Or so I can prep and cook balanced healthy meals to fuel their growing bodies. I have never been the mom that is ever-present at school field trips and events, and that’s okay.
I am eternally grateful for parents that do all of the volunteering tasks at the school because there really is a lot to be done. But my choice has been different. And while I have felt guilty at times, I am pretty sure that neither of my girls has suffered because I wasn’t ever-present at their school.
I just wasn’t that mom, not all of us can be. And that’s something I’ve come to accept.