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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Field Trips and Lessons Learned

Somewhere in my genetics, I was blessed with an ability to be completely be consumed by guilt. It can be about anything, but usually it involves my ability to be a good mom. Often the attention placed on my job (and that little terrorist called a Blackberry) is called into question. And, of course, this tears me up inside because I adore my family - infinitely beyond the financial spreadsheets at my place of employment.

But like most working mothers, I try to strike a balance. So after nearly six weeks of medical leave (and some MORE guilt about missing work), I took a day off to join Cole on his field trip to the Science Center in Des Moines. And it was fabulous. Almost.

The day really was delightful. I got paired with a fun mother. We enjoyed the IMAX showing of "Born to be Wild." The kids were awed by the liquid nitrogen and the fiery hydrogen balloon. Good science!

Then the end of the day came. The kids were allowed to visit, gulp, the gift shop.

Now, I've done some thinking lately. Nothing that Aristotle would find groundbreaking. But after sitting at home for six weeks, I've decided that we need to buy less stuff.

Especially after noticing that not all kids had money, I knew Cole wouldn't be making a purchase at the gift shop. And after showing me a dozen silly things he definitely did not need, I stood my ground. But it was actually difficult. I almost gave in, because he was not one bit happy with me. He was embarrassed. But I knew it would be one more toy that he wouldn't play with. One more thing to be tossed aside.

Last night, I showed him the devastation in Alabama. "See, Bud? This is where money needs to go. This is more important than wasting $10 on a stuffed animal that you would've lost already."

An Unusually Tired Cole
He wasn't listening. His eyes were focused on the TV. But I like to imagine that his subconscious was picking up on my message. Suddenly, I didn't feel any guilt whatsoever! And I had done exactly the OPPOSITE of what I normally do - I had not picked up a gift for my cute little guy. For once, I had done the right thing. And he didn't seem to love me any less.

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