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Overcoming the temptation to cheat

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published Feb. 5, 2007, thehive.modbee.com   

My fingers trembled as I reached out tentatively, my longing gaze nearly igniting a fire. At that moment, I wanted this more than anything.

My mind rationalized at warp speed. What would be the harm? I’ve done it before and gotten away with it. Other moms do it all the time.

It took the last remnants of willpower to pull the Sharpie back from the calendar, where I was about to scrawl “off” across a day later this month.

I would not cheat on the guys.

It’s a conflict for many a working mom – what to do with a day off. I have an extra one coming up in a few weeks, for President’s Day, and I’m allowed to float it a month in either direction. It’s revived an internal argument I’ve had for years: Take the day and keep it to myself, or take the day and let the kids stay home, too.

It used to be an easier decision, because the guys were easier to trick.

In fact, during my maternity leave with Little Guy, Big Guy still went to school once a week. He never protested – especially since he got to go on pizza and swim day – though I later figured out that he thought I was ditching him to party with That Baby Who Ruined His Life.

A few months later, though, sneaking back home started requiring an elaborate ruse. I’d get dressed in something that could pass for professional attire in a 2-year-old’s eyes. I’d tote my mom bag and my Thermos, hustling them to the car in something close to the usual rushed clip.

And then I figured out how ridiculous that was. I was working almost as hard getting ready to not go to work as I did when I really was going to the office. I dropped the act, and Big Guy quickly figured out that if I drove them to school in sweats, I was playing hooky.

He was OK with that, because there usually was something it for him. I have to stay home today to make spaghetti sauce or bake cookies for school or cook for a potluck.

Don’t get the idea that I’m really that saintly. In the midst of one particular bad patch of being out of synch with my hairdresser, I used a hooky day for a cut. I’ve spent the time listening to my boring music or, even better, listening to nothing at all.  I’ve gone shopping without endlessly hitting the replay button on “we’re not buying that today.” I’ve eaten cake for breakfast and jalapeno poppers for lunch.

And about mid-afternoon, I’ve usually been so guilt-stricken that I’ve picked them up early.

Which is why I’ve given up cheating. Yes, it’s nice to get things done, but after a few hours a stray glance at a favorite toy can leave me moping and misty. Besides, in far too few months, Big Guy will be in for-real, serious school and playing hooky with them no longer will be an option.

Congratulations, guys! You get a day off, too. 

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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