Here I am sitting at an urgent care clinic on a Sunday afternoon, hours before I am supposed to fly out for a marathon work week, because I woke up this morning with my left eye all crusted shut. Yep….go ahead, say it: “ew, you have pink eye!” Now, I must clarify right now…nobody farted in my face or passed gas (because my Mom hated the word “fart” so I can’t say it again) on my pillow. I am pretty sure I have contracted Conjunctivitis (the less “dirty” word) due to having a hellacious cold or allergies gone haywire, which I truly think I have, but want to confirm because if not I have some explainin’ to do.
Hence, why I feel guilty. I went to work for the last few days and was around all my coworkers while feeling and sounding like crap. Because they love me, they didn’t ostracize me, but I know they were a bit leery as to what god awful illness I might be coughing all over them. I probably should have stayed home and rested considering I literally got home from a trip to Chicago for the holidays and then flew right out to Dallas for work within 9 hours of being home, but alas, I am a masochist. I just hope none of them get sick because of me. The guilt will kill me; none of us have time to be sick!
Guilt was also the impetus for me to hop on that flight to Dallas for work when I knew I was feeling and sounding like crud. There is such a stigma around taking a sick day in our society and with the word “sick” being such a relative term I feel like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t when taking a sick day. And although I am a realist and would never place anyone knowingly in harm’s way, it was guilt that propelled me to head to work sounding like death warmed up. While I was flying I did do some research into what the 411 was around this whole issue and I stumbled upon two great articles–one by First Stop Health and one from Ravishly.com that gave me some perspective. I am fortunate to not feel like my job would be threatened if I took a sick day, but it’s that internal struggle that comes with “not beating a team player” if you call off when everyone else is showing up to do the work. Ugh, here come the guilt-induced stomach pains…
But the guilt that has me plagued the most is in regards to me leaving Nico for work all week. My job is demanding, travel wise, and I am on a plane heading somewhere at least 3x a week. Nico has definitely picked up on my absences and I see how he panics now if I step away from him to do something else in another room. And what compounds the issue is that he is still somewhat nonverbal so I have no idea what his thoughts are on my absence and how I can talk it through with him. Nico sees me as his lifeline to many things in his world. I am literally his voice at times and he knows I am his caretaker. I sometimes want to just throw all my career aspirations to the wind and take care of him solely, but I have to believe that I am doing him more good by teaching him what it means to be independent and self-determined.
Being a working mother of a special needs child is one of the most challenging experiences in life. It comes with increased amounts of guilt, FOMO, and constant anxiety, but I am learning that my child is capable of so much more than I have been giving him credit for. And, it has taught me to make the most of every minute I have at home with him. Hence, why I will be taking him to the park (as long as I find out I’m not an incubator of plague) before I fly out tonight so that he remembers this about Sunday, 1/6/19 and not that his mom packed a bag and left him again for who knows how many days. With Nico, it’s all about experiences. He enjoys life most on the go so to be out and about with him, spending time singing in the car or laughing as we fly down a hill in the car is what I know he will remember most about his mom. It’s what I cherished about times with my working mom.
So for all my working moms out there, especially my moms of special needs children: You are amazing. You are brave. You are filled with endless amounts of hope. You are more than enough for your children. You are KILLING IT and teaching your children more than you know! CNN has our back too, ladies!
To hell with the guilt today!