We just went to borderline insane lengths for Evie’s sixth birthday. Three days at Disney, a surprise stop off at Story Bots studio, a birthday party with a custom talking pinata…It was a lot of money and a lot of time and a lot of work and more than 30 miles of walking. (If you ever intend to take your kids to Disneyland, enshrine this thread IN GOLD. Made a massive difference in our experience!)

Thanks to another Chairman Mom thread, I’ve discovered the way to make Eli not jealous of elaborate things for Evie is to enlist him in the planning. But the downside of that is Eli has expensive and elaborate tastes.

At the end of our Disney trip, I got a nice reminder that it doesn’t always take funds or time or moving heaven and earth to show your kids how much you love them…a trap that I know a lot of working moms fall into from time to time because of that guilt we can never quite escape.

“Mom, do you remember that time you were going to go on a run and you didn’t?” Evie said at breakfast our last morning in Anaheim.

“Uh….gonnnna have to be more specific. I put off a lot of runs…” I thought.

I didn’t know what she was talking about at first, because the thing she was describing was so un-monumental. It was the school’s back-to-school picnic last September. It was held in a park, and it was a somewhat rare time her dad and his girlfriend also came to a school event. So I felt like between teachers and them and a world of parents, I could manage to sneak out for a 30-minute run and came dressed in workout clothes. (Which let’s face it, I do most days anyway)

It was also a rough time for me. We’d just had changes in our custody situation and I was having a really hard time dealing with it. Plus Eli was being a total jerk about it. It was an emotional morning, and I felt like the best thing was for me to leave the situation and exercise my emotions into a calmer state.

Just before I took off, Evie pulled me aside and said she didn’t want me to go. That it didn’t matter that there were all those other adults there, it was me she wanted time with. I don’t know if I felt that something was different in the way she was asking or if I needed it, but I hugged her and told her that I’d stay because she was more important to me than running.

I know this made a deep impression because she told me the story back with these exact words, “You were going to go on a run, and I asked you not to you, and you told me that you wouldn’t because I was more important to you than running,” she said. “That really meant a lot to me.” I remembered once she described it that, at the time, it meant a lot to me that she wanted me specifically.

It was stunning in a week when I felt like she wasn’t fully appreciating all that had been done for her birthday, to have her tell me that something that didn’t cost any money had really meant the most to her. As working parents we so frequently can’t be there every time our kids want us to. But we can sometimes. Taking those opportunities when we can stick with our kids for a lifetime.

Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:

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