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Sometimes good parents miss the class party

By Allison Slater Tate

For AllisonSlaterTate.com

Published: Monday, Nov. 18 2013 10:00 a.m. MST

That was it. The kids scrambled to their centers, tossing mini pumpkins into cornhole boards and eating banana ghosts and clementine pumpkins (someone’s mom likes Pinterest!) and playing candy corn bingo with me without another thought about the mothers and fathers who were not there. They were fine. I told you Mrs. Hoot is wise.

I slipped out after one game of bingo, kissing my son on the head and ushering the next mom into place before running home to relieve my husband. I was grateful for the chance to see the kids, even if that time was short.

Last spring, I wrote about how it is the “Halloween parade” equivalents in our kids’ lives that are important to parents, whether we work outside the home or not. It is imperative to be able to make it to some of our kids’ special moments. However, it’s not always feasible to attend every special school event, party, parade and field trip — and I am not sure we even should. If we don’t empower our children with the independence and ability to experience some of these moments by themselves, how will they learn to value them without us, and later, without an audience? I don’t want to be there to validate every experience for my children. I don’t want them to think my presence is required for something to be worthwhile. I want them to be able to live the moment on their own and know how to appreciate it for themselves.

Everything we do these days can be validated in an instant by posting it on social media — we even post our meals and desserts for our friends to ogle and “like.” Maybe it is a valuable skill to learn to be able to say, “That was awesome” with just the people who experience it with us and not the outside world. Maybe our children could learn to love a meal without posting it on Facebook or Instagram, or enjoy a moment on a beach without posting a picture of their toes in the sand. Perhaps there is magic in getting to come home and tell us their own stories of their days and adventures, just as much as there is magic in having us share those adventures sometimes in person.

I’ll still slip into school as much as I can. Selfishly, I want to be there to see my children and their cute little friends, and now that I have one in middle school, I know the time to do that goes fast. But when I can’t get there, I refuse to feel guilty about it, and I hope other parents can, too. It is absolutely important to be there for the “Halloween parade” type moments — it’s all that matters, really — but it’s also important to give my children resilience and independence so that they know that when I am not there, they will be OK, and, yes, they will still have fun.

The awesome thing about this theory is that whether I can make it to the party or not, I’m still being a good parent. See how I did that there?

Allison Slater Tate has a degree in English and American studies from Princeton University. She is a mother to four children. She is also a blogger for the Huffington Post Parents page, and can be found on Facebook at Allison Slater Tate, Writer, and on Twitter as AllisonSTate. Contact Allison directly at aslatertate@aol.com.

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