Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Working Mama Blues

I love my job as a high school counselor. And I am so, so lucky to have it. If you're a fellow working mom reading this post, nothing I am going to say will be new to you. But I am going to say it anyway, for the sake of commiserating, fellowship, and (just a hint) of self-pity.

Being a working mom is hard, can we all agree on that? Throw in cold and flu season and it can feel like you're scaling a rock wall with no hand holds and no end in sight. We canNOT escape the sickies this year, and I am dreading the fact that it's only going to get worse as Sweets transitions into preschool next year. Allow me to provide you some examples.

Sick scenario #1: Our sitter texts me in the middle of the day that Sweets is not himself, and running a fever of 102. She assures me that he's ok until I get home (and I totally trust her judgement, as the mama of 4 fabulous kiddos herself). When I arrive to pick him up, the only thing he will mumble is "can you pick me up?" and subsequently lays like a wet rag on my shoulder. He has a miserable night that includes very little sleep for all of us, and in the morning, his fever has risen a degree. He is glassy-eyed and lethargic with no appetite. So, I call in to work and settle in to snuggle my little boy. Two hours and a few glasses of diluted juice later, he has perked up and his fever is dropping. He bounces back to about 75%, and has the energy to play.
Outcome: Guilt over missing work.

Sick scenario #2: Sweets wakes up from his nap at our sitter's house dry-heaving, with a fever. Upon arriving to pick him up, he is crying inconsolably "I want Mommy, I want Mommy," and is generally a hot mess (literally, fever and all). I spend the evening trying to convince him to suck on ice chips and munch on oyster crackers. Surprisingly, he sleeps through the night and mows down a bowl of Cheerios and a cereal bar in the morning. So I pack him off to the sitter's house for a day of laying-low while Mama goes to work. Unable to resist texting to check on him, I learn that he has tanked and is having a rough day. In fact, he is still in the process of getting over this illness.
Outcome: Guilt over going to work.

Sick scenario #3: I pause at work this afternoon to realize I have a headache, which wouldn't be that unusual except for the accompanying chills and body aches. By the time I get home I am shivering violently and standing upright is a challenge. My sweet boy brings me cups of juice and sticks his thermometer in my ear until Hubs gets home to take over. Currently I am huddled up with a blanket in our 80-degree-woodstove-heated living room, so chilled and achy, and slugging water and juice like it's my job in the hopes of flushing these evil germies out of my system before tomorrow morning.
Possible outcome A: I drag myself to work tomorrow because I have so much to do and have already missed a bunch of days due to Sweetie Pea being sick. Result: Guilt over exposing my colleagues to my germs.
Possible outcome B: I camp out on my couch tomorrow, sleeping and watching Grey's Anatomy reruns, in a throwback to pre-baby sick days. Result: Guilt over not dragging myself to work.

Do you see how every outcome involves guilt? Somebody please solve this problem for all of working-mom-kind.

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