The baby was up all night again, and in the morning his temperature was high. Just another morning giving my husband that quick “who is staying home today?” look. I lose that battle a lot.
My husband started a new job, and I have the most paid time off at the moment. With a toddler and an infant in daycare, every month we have one or both kids sick, dragging them to another doctor's visit and filling another prescription. Working mom versus sick kids is a constant and guilt-ridden battle. They happen on the most inconvenient of times, where I find myself often muttering, “Oh please ... just not today!”
This week alone I was home for two days with my baby boy. He had a double ear infection and pink eye. Stellar combination! While waiting our morning out for his doctor’s appointment, my infant – in a screaming crying rage (who wouldn’t be? He looked like Rocky Balboa at the end of every fight…minus the blood) – projectile spit-up all over me, starting at my neck. His eyes were goopy, he needed changed and I needed a new outfit STAT.
Work is calling. I have a huge project that is culminating at the end of the week. Months of preparation all hinge on a seamless delivery in 48 hours. My internet is acting faulty. In a matter of minutes I gave myself and the baby a ‘birdbath,’ fed and rocked him to sleep, called the office, packed a diaper bag and got ready to visit the pediatrician. I did it all, and still did not feel up to snuff.
Here’s the awful truth: Working moms feel guilty about someone else watching their sick kid. They feel guilty if they are home with their sick kid because they miss work. They feel that they are judged for having sick babies – and most likely someone is blaming their choice to work and put their kid in daycare, which is, naturally, making their kid sick to begin with. It’s unfair. We can’t win. On top of that, we’re the ones covered in sick baby fluids AND trying to answer work emails.
So, in times of struggle, I look for the silver lining. Working equals more income, which benefits the family as a whole. That’s our current dynamic, as life is changeable, and I’m happy with life at the moment. Babies getting sick at daycare equals better immune system (eventually), decreased risk of asthma and they contract fewer ear infections (woohoo!) and respiratory problems by elementary age.
I’m very fortunate to work for an employer who is understanding and supportive of working mothers. Like most working moms, I have that guilt of putting in more after-work hours to make up for arriving late because of a rough morning, or leaving early to pick up the kids from daycare after a long day.
It's corny, but “this too shall pass” is so true. One day, they will be driving themselves to the doctor. One day, I won’t have to leave the office to pick up my children. One day, I won’t have babies that need me (as much). This is just life in the moment.
So even if it’s another working-from-home day and waiting to get in with the doctor ... one day it will pass.
Kristine Rohwer resides in Elkhorn, Nebraska, with her husband, step-son, daughter, son and two neurotic dogs.