It is not often that I embrace the feeling of guilt.
Who does? It's an emotion that makes us feel like we screwed up and is notorious for not letting us forget about it.
Today, I was glad to feel guilty.
Laying around and enjoying the pleasure of complete silence in my house, I realized that I had left my cell phone upstairs the night before. Confident that I had probably missed a call or two, I ran and grabbed it from my nightstand.
I already had 13 missed calls and four messages. One message stood out from the rest.
"Hey man, our girls are having Lunch on the Lawn today at school and we should go,'' said my lifelong friend who my kids refer to as Uncle DJ. "Call me back and we can go up there together.''
I am a single parent and have my kids fifty percent of the time. My kids went to their mother's house yesterday morning and will be there until Friday afternoon. I had no idea about today's big day at the school and planned on enjoying one of my last days of vacation at home alone.
Despite the message, I tossed the phone on the couch without returning the call and tried to go back to doing nothing. I am a high school teacher and coach and after a rough football season in the fall, I felt like I needed and earned a break from it all.
I was going to sit on the couch surfing the web and watching rerun after rerun of SportsCenter. The only thing I was getting up for was to get anything and everything I desired from the kitchen. To hell with everyone and everything else!
Then guilt hit me and hit me hard. It was as if it was coming at me from every direction and all I can do was picture my beautiful second-grader walking around by herself while her friends were at lunch with their parents.
Quickly, I grabbed the phone and called DJ and told him I was ready and looking forward to going. He didn't need to know that just minutes earlier I was completely Ok with blowing it off.
As soon as I walked into the school's cafeteria I spotted my daughter in line to get some cardboard looking piece of pizza with a cup of corn. After seeing that, I then started feeling guilty about not making lunches for her and taking the easy way out by paying for all her meals at the beginning of each month.
I'll tackle that guilt on another day.
I walked toward her and heard the most beautiful sound a father could hear...
"Daddyyyyy!!!!! Hi!" Vanna said as she sprinted to me. "Are you here for Lunch on the Lawn day?"
"Of course baby. I wouldn't have missed it."
We had a great lunch and then spent the rest of time walking hand-in-hand while she pointed out friends and things she enjoyed doing at school. It couldn't have gone better.
While she thanked me for coming, I couldn't help but thank guilt for coming to me.
Just hope it waits until after vacation to come again.