I’m not a big one for mommy guilt, I’m really not. My children are the most important thing in my life (along with DearDR, of course), and I weigh a lot of decisions by the effect it will have on them.

However, I had a knee-jerk reaction today when I thought Monkey had croup, and I feel horrible about it.

I don’t often write about work here, and for good reason (can you say “dooce”?). But, as all WOTHMs know, this work/life-with-children balance transcends challenging at times. Especially those times when you have a sick child (or two).

When I stayed home with Monkey, Bun, and strep in June, I used my sick time allotment at work. I feel lucky to have gotten paid sick time in the first place, but I knew I was pushing it. (I did use a few vacation and personal time hours, too.)

Yesterday, around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I found out that my husband, who sounded horrible on the phone, and my daughter, who ran a slight fever and complained of a headache, had stayed home from work and day school, respectively.

And my thought process went like this, “Oh, great, if she’s feverish again tomorrow, I’ll probably have to stay home. And I just got an interesting project at work. And the deadline is Friday. Dagnabit!*”

(*All right, that’s not the first word that popped into my head.)

And then I thought, “You heartless mother! This is your daughter we’re talking about.” Bring on the mommy guilt.

When DearDR called this morning to say that Monkey had to go to the doctor, I was even more discouraged. (I go to work very early in the morning, before my kids are awake.) “She’s coughing, and hoarse, and wheezing.” At least she wasn’t feverish any longer; and her headache had gone away.

Someone at the day school had mentioned croup yesterday when I picked up Bun, and that’s what I immediately thought. And then I worried not just about Monkey (and Bun to some extent — hello, contagious sucky viruses), but about what I was going to do about my job and this interesting project I was on.

Does that make me heartless, or only practical?

I was going to trudge up to our HD department (which is just like your HR department, only they say ‘development’ instead of ‘resources’) and talk to someone about FMLA. Yes, seriously. I didn’t want to burn my already scant vacation and personal time on sick-child leave. You can take up to 12 weeks of FMLA time in a year (I think) but you don’t have to take it all at once. Again, practical or selfish?

I did, at least in my head, have a lot of fun staying home with Monkey. We baked oatmeal raisin cookies from scratch (stop laughing). We polished our toenails; we played plenty of games and did arts & crafts. During rest time or TV viewing time, I was going to impose some order on my office. Not a lot — maybe just clearing off the top of my desk.

And then my MIL called and basically told me Monkey had a cold.

The sore throat and wheezing and cough were due to post-nasal drip.

My relief was immediate. I’m so glad Monkey doesn’t have croup. That would have sucked, much more for her than for me.

And I don’t have to miss any more work. Yet. Waiting to see what fall and winter will bring.

Do you think I’m a monster for thinking about work when my kid was sick, and worrying about it? How do you feel when you have to stay home from work with a sick child? Stressed, guilty? Or glad of the break and extra time your baby? Both, neither?

9 thoughts on “Guilty!

  1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with ANY of your feelings. You are more than a mom, and you are more than a worker-bee 🙂 It’s tough to have to choose and even though you LOVE your kids, you still have to be practical and realistic and think about dealing with work stuff.

    That being said, it’s a lot easier to say these things and a completely different thing to explain them to your heart when the kids are sick! Hope everyone is healthy again soon!!

  2. I’m always resentful when my kids get sick. And then I get angry ’cause, you know. It’s not like writing books is changing the world or anything.

    It gets better as they get older and more self-sufficient. I even had a few good times with them last year, watching movies and hanging out. But I’d still rather have my uninterrupted time to work. It feels like I get so precious little of it as it is.

  3. You’ve read what I do. I cry. I cry A LOT. I don’t get time off when Peanut is sick and this is maddening.

    It would probably help if I were in a position I actually loved but since I’m not, Peanut wins. And job guilt follows.

    Good luck, lady. I hope the girl(s) feel better.

    • Technically speaking, I don’t get time off when they are sick either. So, here’s hoping I don’t get sick. Knock on wood.

      I’d rather have felt job guilt than mommy guilt. 🙂


  4. You are so not a monster!!! It’s the typical line between working woman and loving mother. And remember no one ever goes to jail for thinking something!

  5. You guys are all great! Thank you so much.

    It was such a weird feeling, to be thinking about work and thinking about Monkey, and wishing she weren’t sick SO I COULD WORK. It just caught me off guard.

    Everyone is fine for now. That’s the other thing about daycare: It’s great until those germs start circulating. We all know what little petrie dishes those little people are!


  6. For me, I have those thoughts when I want DESPERATELY to accomplish something! Just one thing!!! without being interrupted! And that happens with me SAH during the day, but WOTH at night…I don’t know what to call myself!!

    Just a hardworking mom, i guess! Like all the rest of us!

    Sounds to me like you just wanted to get something accomplished! And that is a GOOD thing.

    Take care, sista!

    • Maybe that’s it. I get so much done at work (most of it work, obviously) without interruption for HOURS. I can barely get 15 minutes of anything accomplished at home.

      I know it’s the same all over.

      ciao, chica,

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