They always talk about “mom guilt” and until recently I thought it was about the guilt trips your mom would lay on you for…oh, I don’t know, not coming home enough or something. I have had a few tugs at the guilt-strings since beginning to work but have always known that I need to continue the work that I’m doing because I enjoy it, among a million other reasons. However, the working mom guilt comes out in full force when my kid is sick.
When your kid is sick, first you have the guilt of even contemplating whether or not to keep him home or sending him to the sitter because he feels awful. You feel guilty for even having the thought that, “Maybe he’ll be alright…” or “maybe I shouldn’t do this to my sitter because she doesn’t have time to handle a sick kid on top of the other kids she’s got on her hands.” And then there’s the conversation between you and your partner, about who has more sick time, or how we can work it out with our schedules- do we send him for half a day? Just for his nap? Do I take off the whole day or does Gabe? Can Gabe pick him up early? All of these things are things that people who stay home, don’t have to think about. They just think, “Ugh. Sick kid. Poor him and poor me.” 😦
Then if you do decide to take a little bit of time to keep him home and work out your schedules to make sure he can stay home all day, there’s the guilt of leaving the people at work with one less person to help cover the desks. Or in my case, if I would call off, someone to cover the Homework Help Center? How many people am I pissing off by not being there?
And then this morning as I was thinking about all these things, I thought about my co-workers and how most of them either don’t have kids at all, or their kids are grown, and they didn’t work while they were little. So there’s not much sympathy in that arena, either. Then I started thinking of the people in different jobs similar to mine who have been promoted, and I realized….um, none of them have kids. They don’t have to call in sick because their child has pink eye, roseola, stomach bug, upper respiratory infection, strep throat, and all the other lovely germs that are rites of passage from baby-childhood.
It could just be coincidental. I mean, there were times in the past (pre baby) where I took a day off because I wasn’t feeling well and really I just needed a “mental health day”. I think those are completely valid. Some people need those. But when you have a kid, your sick time gets sucked up with actual sicknesses. There are no “mental health days”- first because if you had the time to take off, you’d want to spend it with your kid, and although that’s sweet and wonderful, it’s not the same as a “mental health day”. I believe Mental Health Days are meant for laying around in pajamas and watching movies, eating food you want and just relaxing and trying to forget about everything, perhaps a few good long cries would be involved.
And now, after having a baby, I seriously think that “mental health days” are even more important, but I don’t think I’ll ever have one again. I mean, like I said, that would be selfish.
But I suppose the people who work in middle-upper management in libraries, they probably don’t take mental health days, right? OR – maybe they don’t need to because they have time to decompress outside of work? And, I vaguely remember the guilt of calling in sick when I was actually sick and didn’t have a kid, but it didn’t gnaw at me as much. Was that because I felt like crap anyhow, or because I wasn’t also worried about a baby? I mean, I’ve been sick for three days too, and maybe if I didn’t have a kid, I would’ve taken a day off to rest up and make myself feel better. I don’t think I would’ve felt as guilty as I do right now. I certainly am not going to take a day for myself now, because I already feel bad that I’ve taken time for my kid. Ugh. It’s so un-fun to think about all of this stuff.
All I know is that when my kid doesn’t feel good, there are options, and even contemplating the options: staying home, splitting the day at home with Gabe (making him use some time too), going to work and leaving him with a sitter even though he’s sick, leaving co-workers to deal with an extra person’s workload who isn’t there….all of it just sucks. Things would be much easier if kids just didn’t get sick.
Fingers crossed that tomorrow (my real day off for working the weekend) Simon and I start to feel a little better, and Gabe isn’t sick over the weekend.