31 May Today: My Unavoidable Life and Work War

Every working parent has one – that day when their home life and professional life are on an unstoppable collision course. In the past, I have profiled other women’s stories of professional/personal collisions. Mine comes today.

Because I missed my daughter’s Kindergarten fall play for a prior work commitment, I had her spring play etched in stone. Thursday, May 31. When my friend Tory Johnson called a few months ago to ask if I could speak at her Spark & Hustle conference on May 31st, I immediately responded, “School play!” Then I took a closer look and realized that the play was in the afternoon and the speaking engagement was in the morning. So, I agreed to speak at Spark & Hustle at 10am.

I was still uncomfortable that I had touched the pristine school play day. And even with the two plus hours between the conference and the play, I felt anxious about Los Angeles traffic and any unexpected delays. But every time that thought popped up, I quickly put it out of my head. May 31st would be consumed by work in the morning and kids in the afternoon. Perfect.

Then three weeks ago an email arrived from the pre-school director at my younger daughter, Ruby’s school. “We are thrilled to announce Parent’s Day on May 31st.” May 31st?! My heart sank. “Parent’s Day will take place all morning.” Could this really be happening? There was May 31st back at it again. So I went back and forth in my head about when and how to break Ruby’s heart with the news that Mommy can’t be at Parent’s Day. Finally, after five nights in a row of Ruby mentioning Parents’s Day excitedly each night before bed, I couldn’t hold off any longer. She must have had a sense that I wasn’t reacting to Parent’s Day with my typical, celebratory tone.

The next morning I sat with Ruby and shared the news that only Daddy would be at Parent’s Day. I came armed with a remedy of sorts – that the following day she and I would do something special together. Ruby cried and it tore at every one of my heartstrings but then she started coming up with ideas for how we would spend the time and her smile returned.

No matter how hard we try to shield our children from pain, we can’t always do it and the worst feeling is when we are the source of it. So, tomorrow is May 31st. I am already worried about traffic and breakdowns and things out of my control. Last night we met friends who are moving back East for a going away dinner. On the way there we hit traffic because there was an accident on the road and when I texted to say we would be late, my friend replied that she had been in an accident. The same accident we had just passed.

We arrived at the scene and four cars were piled up, one person injured, the rest miraculously survived even though the cars didn’t. We consoled our traumatized friends who spent their night wondering about the “What ifs.” What if they had taken their smaller car and not made it? What if we had chosen a different restaurant? But life isn’t like that. And I will do my best today to remember that when I made my choices, they were made with the best information available and I did my best.  I hope one day Ruby sees it that way too.

Samantha Ettus is a bestselling author, media personality and speaker, passionate about helping working moms to design a successful and happy lifestyle. Connect with her at samantha@samanthaettus.com or @samanthaettus.

To read this article on Forbes, please click here.

Samantha Ettus is a bestselling author & corporate speaker. The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe for Success and Satisfaction will be released in September.