Thursday, February 17, 2011

Working Moms and Sick Children

Whether we are working outside of the home or working inside of the home, the fact of the matter is that we're all MOMS.

With a tremendous capacity for guilt.

I certainly have never subscribed to any of the debates between WAHMs, SAHMs, or Moms who work outside of their Trenches.

Again, the fact of the matter is that we're all MOMS.  Just doing the best we possibly can, for ourselves and for our families. 

However.

Since I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself today (feeling crappy as a mother; feeling crappy as an employee), I do believe that there's one point to being a mother who works away from home that often gets overlooked, and that is:

THE SICK CHILD FACTOR

This, my friends, is a huDge issue because both Hubby and I work outside the home.  Our boyz are in school from 7:45 to 3:15 everyday, and we have arrangements for afterschool care each day.  (Monday is the afterschool program; Tues-Thurs is a babysitter; and Fri is my mother-in-law.)  Perhaps it is finally time I learn more about how the ACA works?

Having a sick child throws a wrench in our whole routine.

Who has meetings that day?  Who has a deadline?  Whose work is busier? 

It feels like a pissing contest.

A pissing contest that SAHMs and WAHMs are able to avoid.  While I am not.  (And single moms?  I utterly bow down to you.)

Yet I am the MOTHER.  I should be home, snuggling with my feverish child.  I should be home, mothering.

Hubby and I pretty much split the sick childcare duty 50-50.  (And let me just state that we are both sososo thankful that we have jobs that are completely family-friendly and understanding.  Many are not as lucky.)

But even on the days that Hubby stays home with a sick little boy, I feel guilty.

I should be home, mothering.

But then when I miss 2 or 3 days of work to stay home and mother a sick child, I feel guilty.

I should be at work, working.

Can you relate? 

29 comments:

Patois said...

When I became a WAHM nearly five years ago, I must admit that not having to deal with this dilemma was a major plus. I'm sorry. I do understand. And I totally relate. I remember.

Life As I Know It said...

I've been there. I've worked full time, part time, from home, and not at all.
I remember the coin tosses with my husband deciding who was going to stay home with the sick kid. Who had less important meetings that day? Who could make some calls from home? Who couldn't? It sucked. And it made everything more stressful.
I get it. Hang in there. And know that there are many many people in the same boat. You're not alone.

bethismyname said...

We've been there too. And I know we have many more of those days to come. I am also grateful for an understanding and flexible employer, but I still feel loads of guilt.

Jayna @ Yankee Drawl said...

I've never been there, but for sure, working moms have my utmost respect. I just spent all night up with a sick kid and had I done that knowing I had to make the choice about work this morning would have been torture. As it is, I don't have to even look at my WAHM stuff today if I don't want to (and I don't).

So yeah, respect. Major respect.

MommyLovesStilettos said...

I can definitely relate. However, all of the sick child duties are on me! My boyfriend's job doesn't allow time off unexpectedly. He can't just call in to work (like I can). I work for a company that is family friendly and I work in a department where people can pick up the slack when I'm gone. he doesn't have that luxury. Sometimes I wish I could be at work, and he could stay home with the sick ones because it feels like I take off a lot! My kids don't get sick often, but because it's always me that is off with them it feels like I suck as an employee ;)

KDC Events said...

I can TOTALLY relate! I am experiencing this today. Sick kid at home, so hubby and I are splitting the day. I am at work now, and will go home at noon and he will go off to work. It is SO hard to juggle. =(

Angella said...

Matthew and I have been trading off taking care of sick kids for THREE WEEKS NOW. So, yeah. I hear you.

And! I have to leave early today because our babysitter's kids got sick. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

the worst feeling in the world is having to make that decision in the morning when one of my 3 boys wakes up with a fever or cough. my hubby leaves at 3am in the morning so I am usually stuck home caring for a sick child. The most guilt I've ever felt was when I was desparate and told my son to go to school and stick it out in the morning and at lunch to go to the nurse. I had a really important morning meeting that I could not miss. I felt horrible but I was desparate...that's the best way to explain it...sometimes in these situations, I'm so desparate.

RED said...

I always read but never comment (sorry!) I'm not a mom though, but I was the child of divorced working parents. I know things were different then (I think it's 24 hr fever free, right?) but we were only allowed to stay home from school if we had an actual fever. (Cough, tired, throat, headache - not good enough!). My Grandmom would come stay with us for the day/we'd go to her house. Mom would leave a can of chicken noodle soup out for us for lunch. Neither of my parents had jobs that they could easily take off from work, so that's just 'the way it is'. My whole point on commenting is that you are harder on yourself than your kids are. I'm sure your babies understand that you need to do what you need to do, work. My parents were so fortunate that my Gram could watch us, otherwise, it would have been really hard for them. Luckily, we were not sick often. Hopefully your guy gets better soon!

Kelly said...

You took the words right out of my mouth. I struggle with the mommy guilt all the time. It's kind of an unwritten rule that I'll stay home with the kids when they're sick. They just want their mommy. If it's going to longer than a couple of days then Dad (or Auntie and the grandparents) jump in. Working and being a mom is a constant struggle for me.

Emily said...

Can I relate? CAN I EVER!!!!! Just do the best you can...that is what I'm trying to remember.

Suzie said...

I'm a SAHM but often wonder how some lower income parents who do not have that flexibility manage to keep their jobs through their children's illnesses (normal illnesses that we all run across - an extended illness would be catastrophic to a low income family for multiple reasons). I wish there was a way that we could work around this - too many kids get sent to school when they are sick because the option is to lose income for the family, and that's not really an option for some. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. Glad that you guys have that flexibility though - and mommy guilt is tough but hang in there (and hope your little on is feeling better)!

Kami said...

right. yeah. that's my life.

Jen said...

I work part time and on the days that I work I have to go and take care of sick people but not my own sick kids. It kills me.

They really need to better plan their sickness so its on the days that I am off.

Anonymous said...

I feel for you. Doing the same thing today. I work in healthcare and only one other person can do my job. If he is away..I spend the whole week worrying about what I am going to do if one kid gets sick.

Anonymous said...

We have not lately had the surprise of a sick one in the morning. At night if we know that one needs to stay home we decide at night who it will be. We are very fortunate that we both get paid if we are home with a sick kid. I am able to check emails and work on projects from home. My hubs is so over his class of students these days that I am surprised he has not asked our youngest to get sick (jk of course). Wanted to point out that once the 2 older boyz got into middle school, they are big enough to stay home and have me check on them at lunch (also fortunate to work 20-25 mins from home). They only stay home if they have a fever and if so they just want to sleep and then see me at lunchtime.
--Michele R.

amanda said...

i can't relate. i can't imagine.

i am just sorry. which i know doesn't help.

it makes my heart hurt just thinking how it must feel.

where is the damn easy button.

Claire said...

Oh, the guilt - about the kids when you're in work, about work when you stay home. There is no win here! Last week hubby and I split the sick kid duty and each took off a day, and my sister took the baby for 2 more. I just feel so lucky that I have family close-by to rely on. And boy, do I rely on them! Hope health comes to you and yours soon.

MommaKiss said...

I'm with you. My husband helps 50/50. However. As the Momma, it's like up to us to figure it all out. And hold that Mom Guilt. Which I have a TON of right now. Working so much, I have missed bedtime this entire week.

Hope everyone feels better soon, including you, Momma.

The Empress said...

Work or home or anything...it's always mommy guilt.

About everything.

Welcome to the club of motherhood, right?

Rebecca said...

So freaking hard, but you hit the nail on the head...how in the world do single Moms function??? I was raised by one who had her husband leave when we were 2, 4, and 6 and I still have no idea how she did it!

Husband and I often come up with these scenarios about what will happen when I go back to work...it ain't easy by any stretch of the imagination!

Michelle said...

It sucks because my husband can usually always stay home if the kids are sick. He is self-employed so he obviously has that option. But I prefer to be there if they are sick so usually I end up staying home. And I honestly don't feel guilty about it. I figure that's what PTO is for....but I am a nurse so we can get float staff to cover me, not sure what you do if they depend on you for meetings, etc.

Nanette said...

Totally relate... Just had a pissing match this morning. My husband won. He was Supeenaed to appear in court-he is in law enforcement. He wins. I (my work self) looses. :-)

Country-Fried Mama said...

I work at home and I still find this insanely stressful, especially at the end of a winter full to the brim of sick days. My baby is home and feverish and I'm just turning on the TV for her and trying to focus on my laptop when she really needs me to read to her and make her soup from scratch etc., etc.

Men do not do this to themselves. Why is that?

Julie {Angry Julie Monday} said...

We are working parents with one child, and I can't even imagine our schedule with three children.

We take turns when our son is sick. Luckily, or unluckily, he has gotten sick on one of our days off usually. I've called in sick about two times in the past year for a sick kid.

I freak out about school holidays and furlough days more than sick days, because I can't call in sick for those.

Keeley said...

Been there! Hope you get some relief of the guilt and the sick child soon.

revisedexpectations said...

I'm a homeschooling, SAHM of four--soon-to-be-five (oops, it was a long, cold winter)--and I periodically hear things like, "Stay at home Mom--toughest job there is." I *hate* hearing that! I'm like, "seriously"? I know it's meant respectfully, but I did the working mom thing for three months with ONE child and it was so. incredibly. hard.(I felt like every minute of my life was a choice between my child and work and I found that feeling unbearable.) I think Moms who work outside of the home have the greater challenges...and the sick kids issue is just one of the reasons. I'm so sorry you have to struggle with this! Obviously I can't offer personal experience with this as a mom, but I remember being sick when I was little and my parents trading off on the sick duty...I remember just loving the extra care when I was feeling terrible whether it came from my Dad or Mom. :) ~K

JAF said...

Thanks for sharing about your mommy guilt. This definitely struck a chord with me and I decided to share my story on your blog. I can definitely relate to strong feelings of both “mommy guilt” and “employee guilt”. As a relatively new parent, I had a life changing experience with an employer. I have since left this firm and found many wonderful family-friendly employers who are proponents of families and flexible work schedules. They are out there so be very thankful when you find one. What I am about to tell you occurred to me while working as a single mom at a major defense contractor in the DC metro area.

At the time, I had an asthmatic 2-year old who frequently visited the ER/hospital to get his asthma under control. After spending a wee early Saturday morning at the ER, I was advised to bring my son in the following Monday to again be seen by the Pediatricians. He had a bug and as a result had a week long asthma episode. I worked in a predominantly male office that was very non-family friendly—in fact kids were not allowed in the office even to briefly show off a newborn babe. I had an unimportant afternoon meeting that day and found someone to fill in for me so that I could take my son to the doctor’s apt. I told my boss at noon that I would have to leave to take my son to the doctor after his asthma spiked over the weekend. He immediately became very aggressive and land blasted me for not calling him at home over the weekend to let him know “what was going on in my personal life.” This hostile session continued until I am ashamed to say he successfully intimidated me from taking my son to the follow-up asthma appointment, the first sick appointment I ever missed! My ex-husband took my son and I stayed to attend the afternoon meeting that literally lasted 10 minutes and accomplished nothing.

That afternoon, as a result of my mommy guilt for not going to the appointment, I developed a violent migraine. After holding it together at work, upon existing the office I sobbed the entire 40 minute ride home on the metro. Once in my car I started vomiting uncontrollably. My father took me to the ER that evening. The ER doctor told me to stay home for 2 days. Can you believe after all that I get a call 8:15am the next morning from my boss reaming me out for not calling his cell phone (left a voicemail on the LAN line only) to inform him of the doctors’ order to stay home 2-days. Looking back I would have taken stronger action in responding to such a situation from an employer, however, due to an ongoing divorce I did not have the energy to engage in two battles. Four months later I was laid off with a hefty severance package, which I took to have 6 months at home with my son.

Since this episode I have been extremely fortunate to find employers who are family friendly and am studying full time to get a masters degree. While in school I have been working for a firm whose primary mission is to find working mom’s employment with employees who allow us to work from home or have very flexible work schedules. These jobs have come very highly paid I might add. Anyhow, I share this with other moms to let you know that if we do not push back, employers will continue to take advantage. We must force them to set modern standards to accommodate parents in the millennium workforce. My situation was an extreme one. I will never tolerate such treatment again and will go to extreme lengths to ensure that my right to take care of a child during a life-threatening illness is never violated again. To appease the employee guilt, after taking time off to take care of a sick child, I put in extra hours to WOW my employer and go the extra mile to show my value.

JAF said...

Please make sure the post I just submitted about the defense contractor is posted anonymously. Thanks.

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