What makes me a bad mom today.


All of us were home  yesterday because my girlchild was up vomiting through the night before. Totally understandable that I’d want to keep her home, right? I’m sure her teacher and the other children’s parents appreciate that I’m doing my duty to keep their children healthier. The boy, though well, also stayed at home. His school is a half-hour streetcar ride away, he’s 9.5, and I’m not Lenore Skenazy. Not that I’m against all 9.5 year-olds taking streetcars alone, but I digress.

I called into work to let them know I was taking a sick day, feeling a bit of guilt for not being there, but relieved that I work for an organization that encourages us to use our sick time to care for ill children. I’ve been told that this isn’t the norm, and that “sick days” are often only to be used for the illness of the employed person.

This morning, though, when the vomiting started anew, 25 minutes before we would have been leaving for school/work, relief was not what I felt. Here’s where I expose you to the secret many parents would rather you not know: for a brief moment, I resented my child for being sick. There. I said it. Out loud and in print. This is the reason career women make bad mothers. It was fleeting, and the resentment was redirected almost immediately, but for a good 15 seconds or so, I was indeed annoyed with my child who was kneeling before the toilet, wretching.

My rational brain knows that kids get sick, life happens, and we do what we can with what we have. She’s a smart one, that rational brain of mine. So why the resentment, with all that common sense in me? Short answer: I hate that I find myself working full-time as both a parent and an employee. I hate that it all comes down to me.

As I wrote above, my current workplace strives to be as family-friendly as possible, but family-friendly employers working within a culture still struggling with what family-friendly should look like don’t go far enough. I have 8 paid sick days per year. That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, we’re in the second week of the January, and I’m already using my second. I’ve now got to get through the next 11.5 months on 6 sick days, and if I go over? I have to make up the time. During office hours, in the time I have childcare coverage – which adds up to a maximum of one additional hour per day. Once I run out, a three-day illness will require a minimum of three weeks to recoup the “lost” time.

It is not my child’s fault that I have to eat at my desk and extend my day in order to make up for time spent at home with her. I know that, and I believe it. That doesn’t mean I’m not hoping with all my power that we’re all well enough to head out of the house tomorrow morning.

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4 Comments

  1. January 12, 2010 at 10:45 am

    And they have a funny way of getting sick ONLY on the days when you really need to be somewhere.

    I think my children have a secret pact with the virus that causes ear infections – it guarantees only 24 hrs of pain, IF they agree to host it only when Mommy has a midterm exam.

    Hope everyone is on the mend soon, and that you are able to escape it yourself – you need those 6 days! Stomach flu is the absolute WORST.

  2. berta said,

    January 12, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Oh that sucks 😦 I understand. Is this where I admit to giving a slightly feverish yet otherwise seemingly fine kid some advil and sending them off anyway cuz without me there was no-one to run the store?

  3. Fire Energy said,

    January 12, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Yikes! Whenever I see kids alone on the TTC I feel the need to watch out for them till they get out at their stop. Not to sound paranoid, but this is a great way to get a kid kidnapped. It’s a real struggle though to be 1 person looking after 2 though. I imagine there are many days your arms nearly pop out of the socket.

    You handle a lot on a daily basis so I can see where that feeling would come from. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you know you love your kids and want the best for them. Everything else just becomes minor details in a much bigger picture.

  4. Melissa said,

    January 12, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    I don’t think those feelings of resentment are an experience reserved for working moms. I’ve had those moments being an at-home parent, when the last thing you want to deal with is a kid ________ — fill in the blank, there are so many options. I can make up my lost time (in theory) by staying up later, getting up earlier, but it doesn’t change the fact that a sick child is a major wrench in the works for anyone’s day.

    I think those feelings stem, in part, from the difficulty we have as parents separating the “me” from the “we”. When “we” interferes with something the “me” has to get done, it can be hard to stifle the frustration — however fleeting. FWIW, I think it’s totally normal. 😉


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