Monday, April 28, 2008
So my boys have been sick for the past week, and I find myself in familiar territory with this working mother guilt that I have. We don't have family that lives close in town, so when they are sick, one of us has to stay home. My husband is a firefighter and has sets of days where he doesn't have to work, which is good for me, because he can stay home with them, and I don't have to use up my paid-time-off. Of-course, I'm the one who's usually up at night with them, and I'm the one who takes over whenever I'm home, but I can't say I don't feel guilty about the times I'm not there. I want to be the one to make them feel better. When I remember the days I was sick growing up, I remember my mother being the one to nurse me back to health. She was so amazing, I still call her whenever I'm sick. She lives 3 hours away, but her voice takes me back to those days and I instantly feel just a little better. My husband does the same thing when he's sick. Only he's more like Martin was on TV....not very trusting of my methods of care and always checking with his "Mama" to see if I'm doing things right.
Anyway, that's how I want my boys to feel about me. But, I have to work. The guilt is always piled on, too. I take them to the doctor and usually the first question they ask is...."are they in daycare". When I answer yes I get this somber look and nod like I've willingly exposed my kids to a cesspool of germs and the like - how DARE I! This coming from a female doctor who has kids.....but I'm sure she can afford a nanny and doesn't have to expose her children to such a "dangerous" environment.
The mother-in-law digs in too. "That's why you need to leave them with me. How do you know them daycare people didn't give it to them on purpose. Maybe they want to take off or something. They don't love the boys." Mind you, SHE lives 3 hours away just like my mother. Then I get the "That's why the mother is supposed to stay at home with the babies. A man is supposed to work. He don't make enough for you, 'cause you live in the city. If you lived in the country, you wouln't have to work. God says that one day, everybody will have to leave the city. So you'll be here soon enough." And on, and on. In her mind, a woman should have no ambition other than rearing children. She had 10. My boys are so fine, I should have 20 of them, according to her.
And the guilt sinks a little deeper. Part of me does wish I could have taken the time out to stay at home while they were little. There's no way that would have been financially possible for us. Hell, I was working part-time from home days after each of them were born. By 3 weeks, I was going in part time. That was out of necessity, not desire. But I do have a desire to work. I do have ambition beyond motherhood, and, like so many others I'm sure, I'm trying my best to get the balance in. I fill our weekends with trips to the zoos, museums, parks, chucky-cheeses and the like for fun time. I don't really watch TV during the week so I can feed, bathe, read books, practice writing and math, take care of them when they are sick. I sacrifice my "me time" to make sure they see me as a part of their lives - I'm sure overcompensating a bit. It's never gotten to the point where I regret my choice to etch out a career for myself. I'm proud of what I've done so far, and I hope the boys will be too. But the guilt.......it never really goes away.
Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...