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The pang of guilt hit me on a bright spring afternoon as I dropped my daughter off at her afternoon school. The teacher let me know that the class was going on a field trip on a day when my daughter actually is not there and attends her morning school for the full day so that I have a full working day. It's a decision I made at the beginning of the school year - to have 2 full daycare days and the rest of the days be morning Pre-K only, which ends at 11:30am. After I experienced the squeeze on my work schedule of this morning cutoff - and her need for social interaction with her little friends - we tried to sign up for more daycare days after Pre-K, but the original school was full. This led us to the afternoon school.
Good news is that the afternoon school wanted to include my daughter on a field trip. Bad news is that it requires the parent to attend the field trip. I'm new to schools, camps and field trips, and what I'm learning is that there are two ways a program can go: kids go on a bus to a fun destination, or parents drive kids and attend the destination with them. I'm of the first group. Which pains me when I had to say "No, she won't be attending the field trip." Yes, I'm physically home to go, but a self-imposed boundary on that day means I stick to my work schedule, or else nothing gets done.
Kindly, the teacher asked me if there was anyone else that could go. And there is not. Her father works "in the City" which is what we call New York City out here in the Hudson Valley, and there is me. For a moment I was jealous of his excuse. He clearly cannot be available. If I ran a storefront, I also would not be available because I'd be in the store. Or maybe I'd be typing away on social media updates or emailing the press to do a story on my business.
I value my schedule in that I can be there for my kids whenever they need me - lunch in between schools, last minute doctor appointments, witnessing games in the swing set. But this afternoon I had a momentary relapse of working-mother guilt that was deeply rooted in the self-imposed boundary that made the decision not to go mine, and not that of a mean old boss.
Moving on! Too much work to do to dwell. And I must go pick up my daughter and ready a bag of consignment clothes for our trip to a consignment store where she can sell a few items for some new toy money.
PS: This picture is not really me...it's from Unsplash. It's what I might look like if I was in a field on a field trip.