How many of us have hurried home from work to see if we can catch the final minutes of our son or daughter’s game? How many people are like me, and took Halloween as a vacation day for so many years? After getting stuck in traffic once, I learned my lesson. There was no way I would ever again take the chance of missing my little ones going out the door- let alone helping them dress up for the second-best holiday of the year.
How many moms and dads rush out of their offices and drive like maniacs to make it home in time for a Christmas concert or a dance recital? Why do we do it?
Because we know there are only so many of these moments, and if we miss them we can’t get them back.
Last week, a California woman lost her job because she took a day off to watch her son play in the West Regional Tournament of the Little League World Series. The team from Petaluma was one win away from making it to the finals, and Billie Anne Tomei was going to be there no matter what. She was going to be sitting in the stands when her boy Cole and husband Trevor, an assistant coach for the team, played the biggest game (yet) of their lives.
And she’s sure glad she was. Petaluma won that game and Billie Anne was able to celebrate it with her son and husband. It was a moment of a lifetime.
It could have been a loss, and Billie Anne would have been there for that too – to give her son a hug, tell him how proud she was and say how much she loved him no matter what.
Billie Anne was an office manager at a CPA firm. She asked her boss for a vacation day, but he was out of the office at the time and needed someone to cover.
“My boss wouldn’t let me take time off,” Tomei told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
“He told me, ‘If you miss work, you can write yourself your last check.‘ So I wrote myself my last check.”
Not all of us are in a position to tell the boss “take this job and shove it. Times are tough for many families, and a double income has become a necessity, not an option.
My son’s birthday is February 2nd. Through his early years, I missed his big day almost as often as I made it. He blew out candles, and I covered Super Bowls. It was that time of year in New England. That’s the life he knew and the one I accepted.
In this age of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, some will say you can be there without really being there. Sorry, it’s just not the same in my book.
Back in the 80’s, Maria Shriver had a chance at an exclusive interview with Fidel Castro. But that once-in-a lifetime opportunity happened to coincide with the day her child got on the school bus for the first time. Maria did not do the interview. She chose the bus stop. Did it ruin her career? No, it didn’t.
Another thing I’ve learned along the way: It’s really not so much about what our kids are missing- they can adapt to almost anything. It’s more about what we miss as parents.
We can’t get it back. And the day will surely come when we wish we could.
The team from Petaluma won that night for the right to represent the state of California in the Little League World Series.
They would lose to the eventual champs from Goodlettsville, Tenn.
Hopefully, Billie Anne will get another job. But one thing’s for sure. Mrs. Tomei will never have to lament missing that magical night in San Bernadino with her son and husband.
Sports parents can be loud, rude and combative. Those are the people that make the headlines.
Most of us just want to watch, offer support, and stand proud while we capture a memory and a moment that may happen only once.
Cole Tomei had his moment and his mom was there to see it. No regrets.