The Birthday I Almost Missed


Babble has teamed up with ESPN’s Sage Steele, host of NBA Countdown and mom of three, for Harder Right, Easier Wrong, a series about the tough choices parents face every day. Big or small, win or loss, your experiences matter, because when it comes to raising kids, we’re all in this together.

When I became a mom for the first time, I promised myself that I would be there for each and every one of my daughter’s special moments. Miss a school play? Never. Dance competition or sporting event? No way. Miss a birthday? Unfathomable. But then, life took over, and my vision of being a perfect mother … vanished.

Recently, I was knee-deep in a dilemma, one that I will never forget. It was crunch-time for me at work — the NBA Playoffs were in full swing, which meant I simply couldn’t take any time off — even for something as special as my daughter’s 13th birthday. In addition, it was the last day of school for all three of my kids — a day of celebration that I felt sure no other mom would miss.

I felt it was especially important for me to be there because it had been a tough year of adjustments after moving our family cross-country, and I wanted to be there as they walked out of school to congratulate them for overcoming so much over the past nine months. The thought of missing it made me sick to my stomach, but because of my game and travel schedule, it seemed unavoidable.

So there I was, sitting in a hotel restaurant, fighting back the tears and beating myself up about missing such a big day for my first-born. Would she forgive me? Even though she says she understands, would she truly realize how much I wanted to be there? I was absolutely beside myself.

That’s when a friend came over to say hello. When she asked me if I was okay, I could no longer hold back the tears. I told her about my dilemma, told her how guilty I felt, and that I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to forgive myself for missing THIS one. Finally, after listening intently and patiently, it was her turn to talk and I’ll never forget what she said.

She told me to figure out a way to somehow get home in between playoff games — even if it was just for a few hours. In other words, MAKE IT HAPPEN.

I sat there for a moment, then pulled out my laptop to figure out how to do just that. A few days later, I boarded a flight from San Francisco on about two hours of sleep and landed in Phoenix, just in time.

I was actually nervous as I walked with my husband over to the school … but it was a “good nervous!” Basically, I was giddy to see their expressions, and in particular, to see Quinn’s face when she realized that I made it home to celebrate her big 13th birthday after all!

Thanks to my husband’s tremendous videoing skills, we will all cherish this moment forever:


Later that night, after an evening of laughter, gift-giving, chocolate cake and countless hugs, I boarded a red-eye flight to Houston. I was hours away from hosting NBA playoff coverage on national TV, and I was running on a combined 5 hours sleep in a 48-hour span (thank goodness for double-shot cappuccinos and my amazing makeup artist!) but all I could do was smile.

Smile, knowing that even though it was a grueling two days of travel and a logistical nightmare, it was hands-down the right thing to do, and quite possibly one of the best decisions I have made during my 13 years as a mother.

I shudder to think about how I would have felt if I hadn’t made that extra effort, not just for my own sake but most importantly for Quinn’s.


We’ve all had to miss important days in our kids’ lives and will likely have to miss a few more. Sometimes it’s simply unavoidable, but other times, it’s not. It’s just a matter of tapping into that creative left side of our brains and figuring out a way … a way to make it happen.

Maybe you can only be there via FaceTime or speaker phone. Maybe you have to drive or fly out of your way, and be sleep-deprived for a few days. Sure, it’s hard. But deep down, we know that making every effort possible in every facet of life, is the right thing to do.

As moms, as parents, as people … you can’t go wrong if you choose the #HarderRight.


Each week, we’re asking parents to share some moments when they were faced with a tough parenting choice. Big or small, win or loss, your experiences matter and we want to hear them, because truly – we’re all in this together.

Here’s this week’s question:

What was one of your parenting wins, big or small, from the past week?

Share your answer on Twitter with #HarderRight and your response could be featured in an upcoming post on Babble.

Read more Harder Right, Easier Wrong parenting stories here.

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