I Can’t Be There for Everything, And That’s Ok.


“I’m sorry I can’t go, Buddy.  But, your brother really needs his sleep and sometimes Dad and I need to take turns taking you to games.  We can’t all go all the time.”

While he is visibly saddened, my son nods his head in agreement.  I reassure him that I’ll be at the next game and explain again how I just can’t go to this 8am game that’s over thirty minutes away.  His brother is snoozing soundly.  It doesn’t feel fair to drag him out of his warm bed and across the state so he can sit at the rink and watch his brother play for 5 minutes before descending into the depths of boredom.  He’s 4, I don’t blame him, and he’s been to his fair share of games.  Today I want him to get up and just enjoy being a kid that doesn’t have to be harried out of the house.  So while I am trying to make a good decision for him, I simultaneously feel like I am disappointing my older son. 

And that is the dichotomy of parenthood, you are never quite sure if you’re doing the right thing.

It’s hard.  Scratch that.  It’s nearly impossible for any parent to make every practice, game, meet, concert, school event, or field trip.  This is especially true if you have more than one child who may be at different schools, or involved in separate sports, or not attending the same summer camp.  I expect that making choices between what to do or attend for which child will only grow more difficult as years pass as their interests evolve.  Sometimes my choice won’t be between my two kids.  Sometimes my choice may be between work and that field trip, or a first-time mom’s baby shower and a hockey game.  The list is endless.

As parents, we naturally want to be there for all of it.  And, when you can’t be there, it can prove difficult to not let guilt creep up on you.  But at the same time, my children need to learn that Mom or Dad can’t be everywhere, all the time.  I want them to know that making decisions like this are often part of being an adult.  Do I want them to know we are going to to try to be at whatever event of the day it is?  Absolutely.   However, they can still have fun, even if I can’t be a chaperone that day and I want them to understand that fun is not contingent on my presence. I hope that it helps to teach them to be comfortable with the idea that they can be independent of us.   

Of course, this doesn’t diminish my desire to clone myself so I could be in multiple places at the same time.  Trust me, if I could be everywhere all the time, I would.

We always tell our sons that we just want them to try their best.   Trying their best is much more important to us than getting the best grade or being the first kid to do something.  I’ve resolved this year that this lesson should start at home, with us, with me.  I will always try my best to be there for everything I can.  But, it’s ok for them to know that even in my best moments, sometimes I just can’t be there.  And it’s ok to give myself some grace and remind myself, and them, that I am not a superhuman.  I am their mom.  And I’m a good mom, even if I can’t be there for everything.  


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Robin Barton
Robin is a working mother of two very precious, but very precocious sons ages 10 and 6. A lifelong Rhode Islander, she lives in the Providence area with her husband of 14+ years and boys. She is a Bryant University graduate (back in the day when it used to be called Bryant College) where she also received an MBA. In between refereeing her boys' impromptu wrestling matches, carting them between school and practice and handling occasional work issues outside business hours, Robin enjoys cooking/baking (but not the mess they create), 80s music, checking out family friendly events/destinations (pre-COVID that is), visiting new breweries and wineries with her hubby, buying new makeup and taking WAY too many photos (YOLO). She also considers herself an aficionado of naps. Robin believes that it is possible to find both motherhood and a career simultaneously rewarding, with the right support system....and an Amazon Prime account.