I'm Missing My Son's 10th Birthday & I Only Feel Slightly Guilty

mom and sonA couple weeks ago I was at the beach with my kids and another family when I got an email from one of my editors. She asked if I wanted to go to Los Angeles to attend the premiere of the new movie Planes and for a big event celebrating Disney's release of the Diamond Edition Blu-Ray  DVD set of The Little Mermaid. I started reading the itinerary out loud to my friend -- stay at a fancy Hollywood hotel, walk the red carpet, interview some of the films' cast including Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel). Did I want to go? Of course I did!

Then I read the dates: August 4-6. My son's 10th birthday is August 5. Crap.

I almost responded then and there telling my editor there was no way I could miss my son's birthday. I mean, what kind of mother would do that? Then I thought about it some more, and decided that yes, actually I could ...  and I would. 

When my son was born a decade ago, I dove right down off the corporate ladder I'd been working so hard to climb. Since then I've turned down countless opportunities that would have advanced my career and recreational activities that I would enjoy to be with him and my daughter as much as possible. And I've done so happily.

But I don't think that being a good mom means it always has to be about them, and frankly I don't want them to think it always should be. I want my kids to know that while I love them more than anything, I have interests, passions, and responsibilities that have nothing to do with them. I want to set an example that making yourself happy isn't always a bad thing.

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And honestly, while birthdays are a big deal, they're just a day; we can and will still celebrate his first double-digit birthday with gusto. The night before I leave we'll have a family party. My husband will take off work on the day of his actual birthday, and they'll spend it doing something fun. I'll leave a special gift for him to open on the big day from me, and I'll call and FaceTime with him to sing him "Happy Birthday."  While we both might be a bit sad that day that we're not together, it will be okay.

He's doing a triathlon on the morning I fly out, and that I would not miss. I only accepted the trip after ensuring I could fly out after watching him cross the finish line. Not because triathlons are more important than birthdays, but because that's something that I just can't miss ... or rather won't miss.

We all have to pick our own parenting non-negotiables when it comes to things likes this, and not everyone's are going to be the same. So I'm sure some will think it's outrageous that I'm choosing to go rather than stay and be here with him on his birthday. But I'm okay with it ... mostly. There's still a small twinge of guilt I feel no matter how many times I go over my justification for going, but I think those kind of doubts are an unavoidable part of motherhood.  The most important thing though is that he knows that I love him, and of that I have no doubt.

Would you ever leave your child on his or her birthday?


Image via Julie Ryan Evans

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nonmember avatar blue

I don't know. I guess I just never know, if the current birthday, will be the last for one of us. I know that might be morbid, but you never know when you could lose someone. I don't like missing holidays, because I don't want to regret, if it were to be the last. I know people whose children or spouse have died suddenly, so I know it happens. I've seen it, and it's terrible to watch.

Rachel Dixon-Makrucki

Maybe its because my little guy is not 2 years old yet but I could NEVER miss my son's birthday EVER!!! and maybe its because I feel like a lot of people in my life have glanced over my birthday but I think this is horrible. In his position I would have been hurt. I remember my 10th birthday so super clearly and remember how big of a deal it was it to and how upset I was when my parents didn't make that big of a deal out of it. I can't even imagine how I would have felt if my mother wasn't even there. I hope you have talked to him about it and have make good and sure that he isn't going to be devestated that you aren't missing his first real "big" birthday.

MamaT... MamaTo2b2g

I have 4 kids and there is no way on earth I'd ever be away from any of them on their birthday. Especially not a big one like their 10th. And CERTAINLY not to go watch a stupid cartoon. Wow, aren't you mother of the year.

nonmember avatar monica

Yes, I sure would. I feel as though stay at home moms don't understand how important work is.

Also my husband was deployed to Iraq for 2 tours. One 15+ months. You just celebrate birthdays when you can..

fave82 fave82

I wouldnt wanna skip it.. Because of the same reason blue describes and also because 10 is one of the last bdays where they actually wanna hang out with mom... Soon they'll be 14, 15 and trying to run out to see friends.

nonmember avatar des

Yep. Because opportunities like this don't come along every day...and, if you're a great mom, your children will know they are special and loved every day--not just on their birthday.

lulou lulou

Yes,rarely,  but would spin it, on grandparents or daddy wanting to do something special alone with them.

nonmember avatar liz

rachel..going to hollywood is more important it seems..looking at the way she describes that then describes the stuff with her kid..its easy to see

NatAndCo NatAndCo

Holy judgemental moms. It's just a day, celebrate with him before you leave or when you get back. Or set up a surprise video/present pile for the morning of his bday. Or both. He'll have a bunch is special days and I'm sure he wouldn't mind that.

Roxygurl Roxygurl

Is is just a day, they can celebrate another day. My fiancé works offshore and that means he misses a lot of birthdays and anniversaries and Christmases but I don't consider him a bad father and SO because of it, we just celebrate when he's home.

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