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Commentary: I wear the 'Last Mom' title with pride

Katie Pinke1 / 2
Katie Pinke wears "the last mom" title her daughters gave her with pride. Elizabeth and Anika Pinke are pictured at Crosstraining Camp in Moorhead, Minn., where Katie was the last mom to arrive. Katie Pinke / Forum News Service2 / 2

PISEK, N.D. — A colleague said to me this week, "I have to pick up my children at daycare tonight and I'm always the last mom." I smiled and recalled writing a blog post several years ago about being the last mom. I dug it out and reread it after I dropped off my daughters for their last afternoon of basketball camp this past week. Their awards program was scheduled for 4 p.m. I explained to them I had a work meeting in West Fargo at 3 p.m. and it would take me 20 minutes to get to their camp in Moorhead, Minn. As they got out of the vehicle I said, "I might walk in at 4:05 p.m. or 4:10 p.m. but the awards program won't be over."

One daughter said, "It's OK, Mom. You try your best." She was building me up. My other daughter said, "Well, you're usually the last mom!" She was speaking truth.

Six years after writing a blog post about being the last mom, I'm still living up to the title. Can you relate? It's a tightrope act to balance family activities, work, volunteer commitments and keep up with a house.

I arrived as the final awards were being handed out and they were wrapping up the Christian basketball camp with prayer. My girls lifted their heads and smiled at me standing in the corner of the gym. I made it, even though I was the last mom. In the parking lot, they signed registration forms for the county fair and I emailed them to our county office to make the deadline.

Here's a look back at what I wrote in April 2012:

Miss E gave me a new title this week. Before bed one night, I told her daddy would bring her and her sister to daycare and I would pick them up.

Without skipping a beat, she asked, "Can you please not be the last mom?"

"The last mom?" I asked.

"The last mom to arrive at daycare at the end of a day," she described.

In Miss E's eyes, it's the scarlet letter of a working mom. Our girls attend a small home daycare. She knows each parent who comes and goes. Since I'm usually the last mom who picks up her kids at the end of the day, I now hold that title.

I'll own that title with minimal mom guilt. I often show up to games, in my work attire, right before tipoff. I've been balancing the tightrope of career and family for years. I can't be everywhere at once, but I would rather be the last mom at the game or the last mom at daycare than be the mom who missed it altogether.

Sometimes being the last mom is my favorite time of the day, such as when I'm the last mom at the park with her kids. Those are the moments I soak in, amidst the chaos of life. I've felt my share of mom guilt, but most days I try to sit on the floor and play with my kids. We read a couple of books and talk about their day. In those moments, I'm a mom — and only a mom. The mom who sees Miss A capture the first ladybug of the season.

Whether you're the last mom, the first mom or somewhere in between, here's to you for being there. I was still the last mom at daycare this week. I was the last mom at preschool screening, too. But tomorrow I'll be the last mom to bring her kids to daycare. I'm so thankful flexibility and trade-offs allow me to be a mom who is right where she needs to be.

My kids are older now, but my thoughts haven't changed. I wear the "last mom" title with pride.

Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at kpinke@agweek.com, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.