My very big mom mistake – and what it taught me

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Last week, I had one of those multi-tasking implosions that left me with tremendous mommy guilt. I was reporting a story, helping my son with homework and getting dinner together before I had to leave to go to my 5th grader’s Open House at school. I had been looking forward to the night, particularly because my son has two teachers this year and they seem to have very different styles.

I was plugging along, mindful of the time when I got a call my car was done at the repair shop and I needed to come get it before the shop closed. With my husband out of town, I raced over with the loaner, picked my car up, dropped my son at his team practice and managed to get to the school with 10 minutes to spare. I was so proud of myself!

What I didn’t realize was that I had calendared the event for a half hour later than the accurate start time. When I entered my son’s class, the Open House had just ended. The teachers were rushing off to their kids’ classrooms at the same school for their open houses.

I felt tears stinging my eyes. I’ve never missed a child’s Open House before and I had moved mountains to get to the school. When I arrived home, my son repeatedly asked me about what his teachers’ had said, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him I missed the whole presentation. I mumbled something incomprehensible. The incident upset me so much I had a horrible night sleep.

The next morning, I was interviewing a high powered female lawyer about how she manages the juggling act. She reminded me about an event we were at together where Suzy Welch spoke about her book, 10-10-10. Suzy evaluates every major decision for how it will affect her life in ten minutes, ten months and ten years. She has found the answers are illuminating. This lawyer told me she now uses the same approach.

So I asked myself, will missing this event make a difference in 10 minutes? Maybe. My son might be a little upset. Will it make a difference in 10 months? Not really. I can ask the teachers for a conference and ask other parents to fill me in on what I missed. Will it make a difference in 10 years? Definitely not.

Mommy guilt can be crushing if we let it. Sometimes, the work life balancing act takes perspective. I think I found mine.

Thanks Suzy Welch!

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