I try my very hardest not to buy into mommy guilt, try being the operative word. At the very least, I am aware of its existence and can identify guilt for what it is (useless nonsense) when it worms its way into my thoughts.
That being said, I’ve been administering myself a large dose of “you’re a crappy parent” this week and I’m beginning to question whether, just this once, I should feel guilty.
Next week Anders is graduating from pre-school. Apparently, that is a thing now. Caps, gowns, the distribution of diplomas that indicate you sort of know how to share and rarely bite your friends — Anders’ school is doing it all in a ceremony he has been practicing for weeks now. He even has a line that I have been helping him recite each night in preparation for his big day.
“The capital of Japan is Tokyo.”
His delivery moves me to tears. I can say without bias, if school productions were in the running for major awards, Anders would soon be thanking The Academy. I was so excited to finally see all of his hard work come to fruition. Until yesterday, when I took a look at my calendar and realized that his graduation was happening this week, the only week in May when I will be out of town.
I’m going to miss the whole thing. While Anders is educating the masses on world geography and celebrating a major milestone in life, I’ll be in Florida at a writing conference. I’ve been trying to tell myself that I’ve been working extremely hard lately and that I deserve to get away for a few days and immerse myself in sunshine and the company of like-minded individuals. But it still feels a bit like I’m having fun at the expense of my son’s happiness.
After agonizing about it all night, I decided to come clean to Anders this afternoon about my inevitable absence. I just knew he was going to be crushed and I wanted time to ease him into it. I braced myself and decided to broach the topic during our ride home from school. Our conversation went like this:
“Anders, I have to tell you something, something I’m afraid is going to make you sad.”
“What is it, mommy?”
“You know how I’m going on a trip next week on an airplane? Well, it turns out that, unfortunately, I am not going to be back in time for your graduation. I’m going to miss it. I feel terrible, but daddy is going to tape the whole thing and we can watch it together when I get back. Do you understand? Are you going to be sad?”
“Mom? Can you turn up the radio?”
“What? I mean, yes, but is it because you are mad and don’t want to talk to me now?”
“No. I just like this song. I’m not mad at you. Can you turn the radio up now? I am missing the best part.”
Mommy guilt strikes again, I suppose. I just hope that his nonchalance regarding my absence carries over to his graduation ceremony and that my husband has skills with a video recorder.