Part-time Working Mom, Full-time Guilt

Yesterday The Pea's 5th grade class went on a field trip to the San Francisco Symphony. As part of the SF Symphony's Concerts for Kids program, they joined hundreds of other 4th through 9th graders who heard the symphony perform excerpts from Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Strauss and other great works. Between pieces, conductor Donato Cabrera explained to the kids what each piece is all about, which instruments and stories and emotions are highlighted, bringing the music to life for everyone in the audience. It's a wonderful addition to the kids' musical education, and everyone who attends, from the kids to the teachers to the parent chaperones, has a great time.

If only I had been there with her!

I was actually one of the lucky parents who had volunteered and were actually selected (yes, it's one of the few parent volunteer opportunities for which there are more volunteers than available spots). The Pea was so excited to be going with me, and I was looking forward to going with her -- but I soon discovered it was at the same time as a meeting I had for my latest project. It's a fairly easy, low time commitment project that runs over seven weeks -- and it will pay me $600. There was no way to reschedule, and I would have had to bow out of the whole project if I had missed this meeting. So I turned down the symphony volunteer opportunity.

The Pea was crushed. This is the second time I've missed an SF Symphony class outing with The Pea. I missed her kindergarten trip, and now this one. It stings twice as much for her because I have gone with 3Po and Jammy to their SF Symphony class trips... twice. Now she's graduating from elementary school and I don't know if I'll ever get the chance to go on a field trip with her again.

Oh, the guilt! It doesn't matter that I've been a stay-at-home parent for her all these years, it doesn't matter about all the other times I've volunteered on field trips and in class. I chose work over my kid and I'm feeling like a bad mom.

I've never been one to take sides in the Mommy Wars, because I've been on both sides of the fence. But as a part-time working mom, my "stay-at-home" part is still larger than my "working" part, so I tend to experience the "stay-at-home mom" challenges more than the "working mom" challenges. Yesterday's Mom Guilt was definitely a "working mom" challenge, and I did not like it one bit. But that doesn't make the feeling that I'm a money-grubbing, uncaring parent any less strong.

Fortunately I was able to ease the guilt somewhat, because as luck would have it, we actually had tickets for the whole family to see the SF Symphony the very next day. So The Pea got to see the symphony all over again, performing something entirely different, and I got to experience it with her. And I'll have more chances to be involved later on, just as I'll have more chances to further my career, contribute to the family finances and be a good role model for my kids. And I'll probably have to fight the Mom Guilt whatever I do. As Liz from Mom 101 puts it in this brilliant post, the grass does always look greener from the other side!


Ed said...

Nice post cuz. I love classical music and good to see a post talking about dilemmas.

Mom101 said...

Oh Ana, I so know that feeling. I remember when my daughter begged me--begged me!--to chaperone a zoo trip she had been excited about for months. There was just no way I could do it. I felt so bad about saying no; that I couldn't even take one morning off for this.

But you know, here it is a year later and she doesn't remember that I wasn't there. She remembers that it was a really fun trip and that her friend's mom was there. She also remembers all the things we do do together.

Time is a great healer. Hang in there. And congrats on the job! I imagine that's something she'll come to be very proud of too, one day.

Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats said...

I'm also a part-time working mom, but my kids have yet to enter school, so I haven't fallen into this guilt yet, ugh...not looking forward to it!

But, in the end, you are doing great and just think when Pea is 18, she won't even remember that you couldn't go on that field trip, she'll just remember how much fun she had with her friends!