My Kid Deserves A Lunch Date - And So Do I

Oh, the life of a full-time working mom. Each day has you questioning your situation, doesn't it?

As I have said many, many times: I love my job. I work with smart people for an excellent cause and my job allows me to do things I really enjoy for the most part. I work from home two days a week to avoid the two hours I spend commuting and am encouraged to have a good work/life balance by my boss. I have a pretty great situation for a working mom, right?

One of the bonuses of working from home a couple of days a week is that if I'm able to get away and need a little fresh air I get to pick W up from preschool during my lunch hour. I have loved this, because it allows me to know the other moms, his teachers, and the kids in his class. (Surprisingly, just because I'm a "Room Parent" doesn't mean I have much interaction with any of them.)

For the last couple of weeks some of W's little pals have been getting together after school on Fridays to have lunch. When they ask if I want to come along, I instantly think of all the things I have to get done and thank them for the offer before heading home. (This mentality, my friends, is also why I take a lunch about three times each month.)

Yesterday I noticed that three of the moms I enjoy were gathered together, wearing make up and real clothes... Which meant another lunch date. They asked and I declined. They nicely offered to take W with them, but I thought it would be best to bring him home since my nanny is the only person who can get him to nap. (See, they're nice!) I chatted with another mom and in that time W's little friend asked him if he was going to play at a specific food court/play area shaped like a tree house... Up until this time I've been able to keep him from hearing the conversations where I refuse to let him lunch with his pals.

"Mom, can we go to the tree house?" he asked doing his little "gonna-wet-my-pants" excitement dance.

Shit. Now I have to break his heart. And instead of answering I just pretended that I didn't hear him. (Reason #1 that I am MOM OF THE YEAR.)

"I really want to go play at that tree house." Pulling on my jacket.

"Mom? Mommy? Mommmmmmm!!!!"

"No, I'm sorry, we can't go. It's just not going to work today, buddy." I try not to mention "work" as a reason why we can't do things (even though it tends to be the #1 reason).

"WE CAN! Come on! Let's go!"

"Maybe next time, OK?" Pitiful, right? He looked sad. He knew that three of his favorite little buddies were off to have lunch together and he had the mean mom who said no.

"OK, tell you what, I'll stop and get you a California roll for lunch instead. Sound good?"

So, yup, I bribed him... with sushi. And it worked.

As we exited the school he started running back and forth along the front walkway, I could tell he was playful and had plenty more energy to work out, so I let him run for a few minutes until he fell... hard. He usually pops right back up after a call, but this time he just laid face down on the cold, wet pavement and cried while I walked over to him. Talk about adding injury to insult. I'm the worst mom.

I pulled out my go-to parenting method that I refer to as "if they cry, make them laugh" (trademark pending) and dazzled him with my offer to lick his tongue (whatever works, people).

I hurried to get his California roll, grabbing freshly baked cookies for the fall and once I got home I holed up in my office in the basement, nestled behind the furnace. And then I felt bad. I felt terrible.

That kid deserved to have lunch with his friends. And I deserved to have lunch with these cool moms who seem to want to be friends. I could have spared an hour, but my brain just doesn't work that way. I think about work first and how much I can get done in that time. So, next time, I will take them up on it. And I will probably put on some mascara and do something about the bags under my eyes, too.


Christina said...

Sad. You definitely have to go next time so W can play with his buddies. There will always be a list of things you need to do, but they can wait.

marybeth @ www.babygoodbuys.com said...

This makes me SO sad for you! (not pity, I can just feel your sadness in your writing). You're not going to scar the kid for life by declining a lunch invitation here and there. Believe me, it hurts you WAY more than it hurts him.

At the same time, as a parent I know I need to learn from my guilt over the decisions I've made in the past. If I can't truly justify why I did what I did that made for an unhappy child, I usually have a "do over" opportunity pop up much sooner than I think it will. Keeping that previous experience in mind helps guide me to make the decisions that will ultimately make us BOTH happy.

Melisa Wells said...

YES, you do need to go next time! As the mom of a 17yo and a 19yo, I can tell you that I know all too well that childhood is fleeting: it's important to take a break from the regular routine now and then and just ENJOY.

I loved this post. I can't wait to read about your lunch date.

melissa said...

it's so hard to balance. but like melisa said, as the mom of teens...enjoy every minute you can capture because they really, really do grow up so fast!