I’ve got a major case of guiltitis (real disease).
Up until now, I’ve had it made. The commute to my son’s preschool was all of five minutes—10 minutes before we moved to our current house. School started at 9 a.m., which meant we could leave the house by 8:50 and still arrive right on time. I’d drop him off, say a few hellos in the parking lot and still be backing my car out by 9:10. I could be super-involved in the parent community because I was close by and only had one kid in school. I had it made (emphasis on had).
But now my son has graduated. He’ll be starting kindergarten (30 minutes away) and our other little one will be starting the aforementioned preschool. I can’t possibly work and be as involved in both schools as I have in the past. With two kids in two schools, it’ll take a magician or a miracle for me to give them and their schools the same attention I’ve given my son’s in the past.
This has me feeling really, really guilty.
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So I’ve been thinking a lot about how to choose between the two kids’ needs and the needs of their schools. My son’s new school is one of the best the city has to offer. We’re proud to send him there and know it will have an amazing impact on his life, but he’ll have to take the school bus. I’ll miss the time in the car with him and won’t get to say my parking lot hellos. But, with his school so far away, how can I volunteer and be involved in both schools?
I’ve come to realize I can’t.
After speaking to a number of gals whom I trust, each with at least two kids in two schools, what I realize is that it’s impossible to service and serve both kids equally even though we moms think we can. We’re used to “just going to sleep a little later” to make room for the 10 new commitments and committees we take on in an effort to be there for our kids.
I’m getting comfortable with the notion that it’s impossible to be in two places at once.
But we all know it’s inevitable that both schools will schedule their Thanksgiving Family Days on the same day. Like clockwork, both schools will have parent-teacher conferences at the exact same minute on the exact same day, requiring mom and dad to divide and conquer. And, of course, the school performance the kids have been prepping for all year will always happen at the same time as the other one’s field trip—parental attendance required.
Someone’s going to be disappointed that I'm not there. That someone will probably be me. The kids will be fine. It’s me who won’t be. So how can we decide who’s getting mom’s full attention and who’s not?
I’m going to apply a case-by-case rule and decide as I go. It’s harder on the little one not to have mom at a school event when every other kid has his mom there. So if that’s the case, I’ll choose the preschooler. That said, the kindergartner is at an age where he’ll remember more, and what I don’t want him to remember is, “Mom missed me win the spelling bee.” So if my kindergartner has an event that celebrates an accomplishment or milestone, the preschooler will have to do without me. And sometimes, I’m going to attend half of one’s end of the year picnic so I can make it to half of the other child’s.
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It’s not perfect, but at least we’ll have half of each other sometimes, which is better than not at all. And in a few short years, they’ll both be in the same school with the same commute and the same schedule.
Until then, I’m getting comfortable with the notion that it’s impossible to be in two places at once—and that’s the only way a mom can be equally involved in both of her kids’ schools. Unless anyone has any magical suggestions?