Hope Is Not A Strategy


September 20, 2010

Today I’m stressing about deadlines.  Not deadlines at work necessarily, but the fact that as a working parent I have so many deadlines for things put on me by other people that it is sometimes quite frustrating.  Today, the stress comes from the fact that football and cheer leading pictures are this evening.  Now, if you’ve read my blog before, you know I am very passionate about supporting my kids’ football organization.  I scramble to get them to every practice and game on time or early.  Today the pictures are scheduled at 5:30 pm.  Typically, when I leave work “on time”, it means I can barely get them to practice on time at 6:00 pm.

The kids asked if we would make it on time.  I said, “I hope so.”  But, in my head I know that it is going to be impossible.

I know it’s not fair to them that they work so hard, then can’t be in the picture.  But, what is a working parent to do when both parents have jobs and neither can take off early on a particular day because of the things that are scheduled?  I need a strategy, and hope is not a strategy.  I want to be the best mom possible and I want to help them do all the things that are important to them.

Have you run into this type of dilemma before?  What have you done in order to make your kids feel valuable and happy while still meeting work obligations?


  • Based on the person you are and your passion for your career, kids and life I am certain your children know they are loved and supported – AND that you cant make everything. I remember when I left Coca-Cola after 16 years – telling my kids was a worry, as we told them over Friday pizza years ago they asked one simple question – “are you happy Dad, and we will get free stuff at your new job?” Ha! taught me that we/adults make it more complicated than it is. That said – hope versus strategy – what has worked for us is a strong “soccer team mafia” – we all look out for each other – text, IM, and email to arrange pickups and drops offs when any of us have complications. Build a tight/trusting/give and take with several of the parents and you will work it out.
    More than anything, give yourself credit and a break – you are doing great. Your kids know it too.

    • @Mike- I can’t thank you enough for the encouraging words. It actually made me cry because you are right- I think I make things more complicated than they need to be sometimes. I love the soccer mafia idea. We’ve got several parents I trust that pick up and drop off kids. I just need to stop beating myself up. 🙂

  • Hi Trish –

    Such a timely post! I totally understand, life has so many deadlines and pressures that it is hard just to keep up! I too have a cheerleading daughter and the pressures to have a child be a member of a local football program is very demanding, we have 4 practices a week during August and with work and my son’s soccer schedule its a lot of pressure. But I have my friends help out, we lean on each other to help when others are over booked. That way my son and daughter were able to make it to all the events.

    You kids do understand, but know we are hear to support and understand as a working mother you can’t have it all, it is a hard road but I know I am a better Mom because of my job!


    • @Chernee- Thanks for the supportive words. I know what an accomplishment it is to get kids where they are committed to be. It’s good to hear it is possible to make it all fit in and still be a good working mom. Thanks for being here for me and I’ll be here for you!

  • It has long since past that I had to hurry to get to a youth hockey game or band event or anything of the sort. Like you Trish, when my kids were in school I felt compelled to have at least one person from the parent team at all of the kids events, but it did not always work out like that. I rember the pressures of work or being a home owner, somtimes taking presidenc over an event or two here or there.

    Now I know (but I didn’t at the time) that even though I missed that game, meet, event or whatever neither one of my boys eneded up being emotially scarred, because of that. You get where you can when you can and that’s the best you can do. The fact that you are working also goes to provide them with a good life as well.

    It will all work out in the end, and I’ll bet you have team friends who will make sure your kids are watched over and loved, if needed!

    • @Dave- Thanks for the wise words and helping me see that my kids won’t be emotionally scarred if I can’t personally be there to do every event. And you’re right, I definitely have friends who can help and they love my kids like their own. 🙂

  • I don’t have children, so it is tough to have my opinion weigh much. That being said, you can’t do it all. Like others suggested, others can (and probably will) help.

    When it comes down to it, maybe not being there on time will disappoint your children temporarily. It took me a few years to realise that the reason why my dad or mum couldn’t be at those games always was that if they would have been able to be there, I probably would not have been in said activity because we would not have been able to afford the activity without my father being gone for work. We would have had plenty of together time, but no activities.

    In the end, your children will definitely appreciate what you do and how your juggled it all. Don’t beat yourself up- being at work for all the hours you are there helps make a good life at home possible for the kids.

    • @Doug- Thanks for the vote of confidence Doug. You know me…I’m a perfectionist and I just need to realize it’s ok to need help from friends in situations like today. Thanks for weighing in.

  • Trish, I hope this doesn’t come out the wrong way. You know I can be insensitive without meaning it sometimes.

    But you need to stop. Stop and think.

    Everything you have written there is about “being” for other people. That is no way to live a life. Well, it is no way to live a happy life. Ask yourself what you want to be doing at 5.30, where you want to be. Then make it happen.

    Women (through the pressures of society) are the worst at this, in my opinion, the constant need to feel able to perform on all fronts and the accompanying guilt that being unable to brings. It isn’t possible. It never was, it never will be.

    If you want to be there for the kids, go tell your boss. If they don’t understand that are they the boss that you want to work for? Ask someone to cover for you, if they won’t are they the sort of colleague you want to work with?

    Alternatively, if you want to be at work go tell your kids that you won’t make it. Not because you have no choice, but because you have chosen not to.

    I’ll try and send strong and supportive vibes across the ocean.

    • @The HRD- You did it. You ALL did it. Made me stop and think about it differently. That’s just it…I think I get so wrapped up in trying to be everything to everyone at home, at work, online that I forget about what I really want to be doing. You gave me the clarity I needed today. Today, I want to be there for my kids. And, I do have the most understanding and supportive workplace so that won’t be a problem. The problem is that I just hate to ask. And, that’s a Trish issue, right?

      It’s all about the choice. Thank you for pointing that out to me and getting me back on track.

  • You are a wonderful Mom. I nicknamed myself the Mommy when my son was young. He was married in June Trish. Truth be told–I miss the Mommy bus days.

  • We’ve been brainwashed a bit (and influenced a lot) by the pressure of attending everything from kindergarten plays to every practice and game. But you know what – it’s the time spent at home, at dinner, at 2:00 am when someone can’t sleep, the last-minute ice cream run on a Sunday afternoon, the chat’s in the car gong to church or the grocery. It’s not the practice that matters – or the game. It’s the sum total of interactions.

    I know a lot of parents that went to every game – but never had a conversation with their kids between their “Thursday Night Line Up on NBC.” I know you and I know you have those conversations – the sum of those conversations far outweigh the few missed games and practices.

    The only thing I’ve learned over the years (and I have a few more than you) – is tell the truth. Not going to be there – say that. Saying “might” could lead the kids to be looking at the sidelines and wondering why you weren’t there. Better to tell them you won’t and then show up than to say you might and then not. Kids hear what they want to hear when you give them the opportunity.

    I’ve missed a few – and I haven’t had to bail anyone out… yet 🙂

    • @Paul- You know your guidance means the world to me. It’s days like today that I know exactly why blogging is important to me. It’s the collaboration and support that you all give when I need guidance. And, all that guidance hopefully will give other people ideas if they face a similar situation. Thanks for helping me keep it all in the right perspective. I appreciate it.

  • Oh Trish, I don’t know what else I can add to what’s already been said. They said it all and as I sit here – away from home for the next 4 days – my perspective is adjusted too. It’s the sum of all the parts and not any one individual incident . . . and the sum of our parts is that we love our kids and they know that.

  • Knowing you, you are doing great things for your kids. It will be obvious as time goes on. Just keep doing what you are doing, things will be great.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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