A couple of weeks ago in H’s cubby at daycare there was a notice that his class was taking a field trip to the local pumpkin patch. The teachers invited the parents to join in on the trip.
The field trip was scheduled for this past Monday. Mondays for me are always crazy, but this one was particular chaotic. I had a mountain of deadlines and my new assistant was starting her first day. Amidst this Manic Monday could I really take a morning off and go with H?
It’s the classic moment working Moms find themselves in all the time. Work obligations v. time with our kids. It’s a struggle that haunts many of us…especially me. I have always been that Mom that shows up to everything I’m invited to at school, even though I am often the only Mom there. But this field trip was plain bad timing.
That morning I woke up and thought to myself “Mandi, its okay to miss this one field trip…he won’t know, he won’t care”. I started to get ready for work. But then H woke up excited for his field trip. “Mommy I want you to come” he said to me. I looked in his blue eyes and then looked at my briefcase...
An hour later instead of climbing into my car and heading off to work, I climbed on a school bus with H and his class. Although I kept my Blackberry in my purse so I could focus on time with H, I couldn’t help but hear constant vibrations reminding me that this was in fact a working day and I should be sitting at my desk. H was in his glory that I was there. He kept telling his friends… “This is my Mommy”. His smile seemed to deafen the obnoxious vibration of my Blackberry.
After H’s class met all the farm animals and picked out a pumpkin, we climbed back onto the bus and started back to Davenport. I quickly checked my Blackberry and noticed I already had 16 emails waiting for me. For a moment, I felt a twinge of guilt…did I do the right thing by coming with H? Sure I had the best time…but was it worth it?
Just then I got my answer. As we started down the gravel road back to town, H out of the blue turned to me and softly said:
“Thanks for going on my field trip Mom. You’re my best friend”.
I hugged him close to me and tousled his short blonde hair, trying to hold back my classic tears at any Hallmark moment like this. I smiled and told him there was no where else I’d rather be.
Would he have been okay if I didn’t go? Of course he would have been. I was one of only two Moms that went on the trip that day. The other two dozen parentless children enjoyed the trip just as much as H. But I realized I didn’t really go for H, I went for me. I went so I could see H’s little smile as we visited the farm animals, could hear him excitedly call to me on the bus…”Sit by me Mommy! Sit by me!”. I went to get one on one time with him.
I know H will not remember this field trip. He won’t remember the beautiful fall breeze, singing “Wheels on the bus” with me, or the fact that he named his new pumpkin “Patty”. But…I will.
I did the right thing. True by doing this I surely billed half the hours my colleagues did that day. But for me, the goal of time with my children is much more important than any billable hour goal. Sure this means I will never be top biller at my firm, I may never be inducted into the Iowa Trial Academy, I will not be a famous litigator. But I’ll settle for the title I earned that morning on the field trip: H’s “best friend”. Being that means more to me than any legal accolade I could ever receive. The world has a zillion fabulous attorneys…but H only has one best friend.