My daughter has been talking about her fourth birthday since the night of her third birthday. To her birthdays are bigger than Christmas. If you say a month of the year she can tell you who from our family, extended family, or group of friends has a birthday in that month.
My school, on the other hand, is trying a new back to school night where we combine the meet the teacher evening into the same back to school night that traditionally takes place a few weeks into the school year. The PTO will have food trucks outside and we are all expected to be there from 5-8 to meet parents and children, answer their questions, and present the important information needed for the school year. I've been really excited about the way we were wrapping multiple events into one fun night and had been looking forward to being a part of it to make it a smooth night for both family and staff.
My amazing administration said it was fine if I left to be with my daughter, which is my current plan. Not being a classroom teacher means that I would really spend the evening helping with crowd-control. She's nervous about starting preschool and I don't know how I would explain to a four year old that I can't be at her birthday. But the guilt is crushing. Everyone else on our staff is going to be working a full 12 hour day- from 8am-8pm. Everyone else is working hard to make the night go smoothly, calm parent fears and get the students excited. I should be there as a part of the team. My daughter will one day forgive me. Or she can add it to the list of things to talk about in therapy when she's older- when once again mommy left her to be with other kids.
There is no winning. Some moments I think that my daughter will understand and it's my professional responsibility to be there. Other moments I think that my family comes first and I'm doing the right thing by going home this evening. Whatever I choose I will feel awful about and will regret not making the other choice.