Showing up

I once heard someone say that 90% of life is showing up. I think about that line every time I go to my daughter’s class room to volunteer during Math Centers or Story Time, or to watch the Halloween Parade or the Fall Concert. “Showing up” is part of my job as a parent. My kids are still young enough that they look for me in the audience, and when they locate my face, they wave. But these last few weeks have been more overloaded than usual, and no matter how early in the morning I wake up, I always feel behind. Some things I’ve had to let slide.

Tuesday was Olivia’s Spring Sing, an annual school-wide event for grades K through 2. For the past two years, faithfully, I’ve gone. But this year, on Tuesday, I simply had too much to do. I knew that if I went to Spring Sing, the ten others tasks I needed to accomplish before nightfall would not get done. My best and only choice was to opt out. But all morning, I felt terrible.

That afternoon, when I picked up Olivia at the bus stop, the other parents were raving: “Fabulous performance. Audience was packed. The kids were great!” I felt even worse than I had in the morning. How could I let down my daughter? True, I was working on tasks for my book, a project very meaningful to me and one on which I have labored for the past five years. But what was so important that it couldn’t wait? As the bus pulled up to the curb, I leaned over and told another mother how guilty I felt. “Pretend you were there,” the other mother advised, trying to be helpful. “The place was so crowded, she’ll never know.”

But I couldn’t. Before Olivia was off the bus ten seconds, I came clean. “I missed the Spring Sing,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

Without skipping a beat, Olivia reached for my hand the way she always does before we begin our walk home. “Don’t worry, Mom. You come to enough stuff already.”

I guess the moral of this story is we show up when we can, and that’s probably enough. We’re harder on ourselves than anybody else is.

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6 Responses to “Showing up”

  1. Sveta says:

    I think you are so right about us being harder on ourselves than anybody else is, including our children.

  2. Jessica says:

    As if the world isn’t hard enough, we pile it on ourselves. Let’s you and I remind each other of this when we can.

  3. Dorothy says:

    Oh Jessica, I so relate to this! I, too, missed Phoebe’s Spring Sing for the first time this year and was beating myself up for it. But it didn’t seem like a big deal to her at all.

  4. Jessica says:

    You and me both, Dorothy. Very glad to hear it was okay with Phoebe, too.

  5. Lorrie says:

    Lovely post. You capture our (usually unnecessary) guilt and the matter-of-factness of kids, who are actually great at assessing the overall picture of whether or not their parents are there for them.

  6. Jessica says:

    Thank you, Lorrie. I really value your opinion on this.

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