Being a stay-at-home-Mom has so many challenges that I gave up. I gave it a fair shake…TWICE…but it was simply too difficult for me and I knew I was a better Mom if I worked in some capacity. Other than those two short stints around the birth of my children, I’ve worked away from home (or gone to school) my entire career as a Mom. Now, I did work from home for the last two years and that allowed me to escape most of the SAHM challenges and even some of the Working Mom challenges because I got to pick up my kids from school and be there if they were sick.
But now I’m back to working in an office and I’ve already been reminded of one of the SUCKIEST PARTS of working outside the home: The Call From School.
Not the urgent one: Come get your kid now! She’s puking! He needs stitches!
Nope. That one’s fine. That one doesn’t happen often and it’s just part of life. If you have a shitty employer then maybe those calls are a problem, but hopefully they’re rare enough that it’s not too big of an issue.
No. The AMBIGUOUS calls. The GRAY AREA calls. The calls where they say, “Here is what’s wrong with your child. We wanted to call you because you might want to come get the child because of the thing we’re calling you about.”
My first instinct is ALWAYS to say: “Nope. He/She is fine. They’re overly dramatic about everything. I’ll see them at 5pm as usual.”
But holy CRAP if that instinct is not followed by the guiltiest feeling in the world.
But what if they’re NOT fine? What if they’re really hurt/sick?
Because we all have those stories. That time we thought our kid was faking or overreacting and then…BAM! Flu for 5 days. Broken wrist. Black Plague. Something serious that we blew off.
Now…most of us also have countless other stories of times our kids were overreacting. But still…that one time they weren’t gave us a supply of guilt to last a lifetime.
So. We get the call from school and we have to deal with that battle. Do I get them? Do I not? And all you have is the judgement call of the person on the other end who technically can’t tell you either way. But they always hint. Because they don’t know your child like you do…so they don’t know your child overreacts. “She won’t eat.” “He won’t straighten his arm.”
I have stood my ground before and said, “He/She will be fine. I’ll get them later.”
But twice this summer at this new daycare with a director who maybe has a delivery that always sounds like she thinks if you don’t come get your kid, you’re an awful parent – I’ve had the call. TWICE. ALREADY. And both times I left work to go get the kid. Nikki had a fall and hit her head at the skating rink. Wes hurt his arm. And both times? NOTHING. I spent 4+ hours with Wes yesterday at the doctor and then at the imaging center for X-Rays and the whole time I was thinking, “He’s fine…” because I would see him use/straighten the arm when he wasn’t thinking about it. And you know what? HE WAS FINE.
Remember that guilt battle we have when they call? That battle over “Should I go get my child or not?” Well. NONE of that guilt even REMOTELY compares to the guilt you feel when you are actually kinda irritated that the radiologist came back and said, “You all can go! No break!”
Yes. Part of me was actually irritated that it wasn’t broken. A small part of me, BUT STILL. I took 4 hours off a day that was already insane, I had to reschedule an appointment that afternoon, ALL FOR NOTHING.
I promise. I’m fully aware of how shitty that makes me. I still feel guilty about THAT now.
PHASE 1 of guilt: The Phone Call and The Decision – Something is wrong with your kid, are you going to get him/her?
PHASE 2 of guilt: The Diagnosis – Are you disappointed your kid is healthy/well? Are you relieved your kid is actually sick/hurt?
And then, because this has happened TWICE already this summer…I had a “talk” with my kids last night that went something like this: You better not let them call me at work again unless you are gushing blood, bones are poking through the skin, you are vomiting, or you have an ACTUAL fever of over 101. You all do NOT have a good judgement of pain or injury and you overreact at everything. Sometimes we hurt and sometimes we feel like crap. That does NOT mean we are actually injured or sick. You have to accept that sometimes you’ll get hurt and sometimes you’ll feel like crap but you have to just SUCK IT UP, not call me at work.
So, PHASE 3 of the guilt? Was sitting in bed last night, replaying that conversation and realizing how really shitty all of that is. And that it is totally contrary to the whole, “If you need me for anything, I’ll be there!” message we try to convey as parents.
But you know? That message has it’s limits if you have a job and other people who depend on you to do that job.
(This is me basically trying to make myself feel not as guilty about all of the insanity yesterday.)
And now is where you tell me similar stories that have happened to you so I can feel – not less guilty – but at least not alone in my guilt.