Mommy Guilt and The Flu: How One Mother Deals With Her Sick Kids while Working

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My son had the flu again not too long ago. In his two years of life, he has had it two-three times, and the number of liquids that are capable of coming out of that child never ceases to astound me.

Before becoming a parent, I had no idea how often young kids got sick. My son had a trifecta of petri dishes coming at him from the time he was 7-weeks-old. I was a school teacher, my husband a custodian, and he was in daycare.

Germs were coming from everywhere.

For those first few months of daycare, it seemed like my son was sick every couple of weeks. Although this certainly wasn’t his fault, these illnesses were difficult to deal with while working.

I was fortunate to work in a very supportive school, but it’s still stressful when you receive a phone call in the middle of eighth grade English informing you that your son has a fever and is vomiting.

As a new mother, these moments used to make me panicked and guilt-stricken. Panicked, because I had twenty-five needy middle schoolers staring at me, and guilt-stricken, because I wasn’t there with my son.

Immediately, I would hop on the phone and see if my mom were available, or see if my husband could take on a couple of hours before I could make it home, and sometimes I told my boss that I just had to leave.

Thankfully, she was always understanding, and it was me that beat myself up more than my actual employers.

Then an appointment would usually take place, and they would sometimes tell me my son couldn’t go back to daycare for days.

The phone calls would begin again. If I went back to work, I felt guilty, and if I stayed home, I felt guilty. I equate these feelings to a dog’s cheap chew toy—constantly torn.

Then he would recover, and before I knew it, it seemed like I was receiving notice of another sickness.

What a rollercoaster, but as my son got older, he built immunities, and it got better.

But on this particular Friday, the flu happened, and it was a weekend of vomit, poop, boogers, Tylenol, and cuddles.

The guilt, once again, ensued.

This is one of many reasons why I decided to stay home after the birth of my second son. For me, it just wasn’t working.

Unlike other amazing mothers I knew, I just was not capable of striking a healthy balance.

I wanted to give 120% to teaching and 120% to my son, and the fact that I couldn’t, often tore me apart, because eventually, I knew that both areas were not receiving even 100% of me, in fact, they were both beginning to receive a lot less.

I knew, with a second child on the way, it was only a matter of time before this weight would devour me.

My personality does not handle guilt well, and I always felt like I was letting someone down. I knew I had to be creative and find a way to make a change.

As I reiterated in numerous other posts, we must go with our instincts and go with what is best for us. What works for me may not work for you, and that is okay, and vice versa.

So, during this weekend, when my son was weakly laying in my arms, saying, “I love you, mommy,” nasty liquids and all, I was just happy to be there.

And for once, I didn’t think about anything else.

 

Suggested Further Reading:

Why All of This Mom Guilt? By Jennifer S. White

Mommy Guilt: Learn to Worry Less, Focus on What Matters Most, and Raise Happier Kids  By Julie Bort

Lose That Mommy Guilt: Tales and Tips From an Imperfect Mom By Cara Maksimow

 

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