Big Meeting Vs. Big Birthday – What’s A Working Mom To Do?

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The modern mom’s dilemma: would you ever work on the day of your child’s birthday party?

It was only a matter of time before this inevitable conflict came up for me. I’ve had mom friends tell me tales about this and I always thought to myself: Duh! No-brainer! What idiot would choose to work on the day of their kid’s birthday party? Turns out, that idiot was me. Yes, I worked on the morning of my little girl’s first birthday party.

Thank goodness that when I was growing up, my own mom brainwashed me to “always be prepared, because you never know what might come up at the last minute.” Her words sure took the cake this time.

Don’t get any crazy ideas – I was at my baby’s birthday party from start to finish (heck, I organized, cooked and decorated the entire “Ladybug Picnic” in our backyard by myself!) but only after rushing home after a morning with Hugh Jackman and the cast of “Real Steel,” (which is a great family movie, BTW).

As a entertainment journalist (who is freelance – which translates as one who is compelled to grab all employment opportunities, no matter when they arise) there was no way I was going to turn this one down.

Let me paint a picture of my stress level: I was doing the interviews for the biggest news outlet I’ve worked with in my little career to date, and I would have 35 hungry people knocking on my door that same afternoon expecting the “Ladybug Picnic” promised on the invitations I sent out. A normal person might question whether it was wise for one to be gone all morning on their daughter’s big day, but I convinced myself that I could move at lightning speed and handle all the possible insanity the day would bring. 

After all, I used to be the girl who took Banzai trips to Vegas – heading out on a Friday night and heading to work on Monday morning straight from the airport. I was intent on mustering up that same gusto even if it took me two weeks to recover (it did). Come hell or high water, I was NOT going to cheat my little girl – and our family scrapbook – out of a fabulous first birthday bash.

So what happened?

I told Hugh Jackman to talk fast so that I could get home and mix my pasta salad. (Just kidding, but I was tempted). I actually got glammed up and left my house at 8 a.m., interviewed Hugh and was done by 11, sped the entire 45-minute drive back home (thank you, California Highway Patrol for ignoring my reckless shenanigans on the thankfully-empty road that day), whipped up my appetizers and salads while still wearing a dress and heels from the morning and somehow by the grace of God had everything cute and ready by my party start-time deadline that afternoon.

As crazy as this sounds, I relished the adrenaline. I was a woman on a mission. I found myself inspired by all the working moms who “get it DONE” on a daily basis. In fact, I was sort of into the fact that I was now a proud member of the Get It Done Mommy Club. It was like a badge of honor – you suck it up and don’t panic. 

Back to the birthday: We partied. We ate. We played. We even had ladybug pinatas for the kids. (To my mom’s credit, I wouldn’t even have come close to pulling it off had I not taken her advice to “always be prepared” ahead of time – which prompted me fill those crazy lookin’ ladybugs with candy four days earlier at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday morning.) Yes, I had a few goofs, like forgetting to put out the sweet butter for the corn-on-the-cob and realizing that I didn’t have any milk in my fridge for coffee… but did I mention there were pinatas??

My mission was accomplished. Family and friends had fun and my little girl had a blast (and showcased some suspiciously serious partying skills). We did it. First birthday down!

However, I was a little sad how fast it went by and kept wondering if I had screwed the memory up for myself because of my hectic schedule that day. But then I snapped out of it. I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was also elated by the sheer reality that I was – luckily – able to pull off the two most important things to me (that month) in a single day.

Getting through it all taught me to be prepared, breathe deep breaths, take things hour-by-hour… and commit to the choices I make. It taught me that it is possible for modern mommies to “do it all” if we keep our focus and remember what’s important (a few cups of coffee don’t hurt either).

Just think twice before picking your party theme: As harmless as they may seem, those tiny ladybugs kicked my butt. 

Share YOUR work vs kids stories with me! I’m dying to know other mommies’ antics!

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