I came to an important realization when I sat in the children’s hospital emergency room with my daughter and my husband a few weeks ago.
I decided not to alert my world and post our location and status update on Facebook. It was a long work day for me and when I came home, I could just tell something was really wrong with A – she was not herself. I had checked in with my mom throughout the day to see how A was doing and I had also called the nurse at our pediatrician’s office to discuss A’s condition. We had decided to watch her and keep her hydrated and if her condition would worsen, then to call in again.
On my drive home, I saw a huge sign from the freeway that said our local Children’s Hospital was having an open house that weekend. I thought to myself, “I should take the girls over there for the event, to get a tour before we really need their services.” Little did I know we’d take an intimate visit later that night.
I arrived home and my intuition heightened. I kicked into “first responder” mode and decided to take her in to urgent care. Once we arrived there, the doctor urged us to go the ER. (I won’t go into details, but it was related to a gastro-intestinal issue.)
As I drove to Children’s, I called my husband and he was going to meet me there once we had a better idea of what the issue may be. Because A is so young, we were allowed to the front of the line and entered triage. The nurse asked me many questions about her condition, what she ate, her bowel movements, etc. (More questions about poop!) I had answers for some of the questions, but not all. My confidence to handle the situation was deflating.
Now, the nurse didn’t make me feel bad. I made myself feel guilty. Mommy guilt? Is that what it’s called? I had spent a nine to 10 hour day at the office focusing on myself when I should have been home with her (never mind I had been home with her and C the day before). All so I could answer the questions from the in-take coordinator, triage nurse, two doctors, the radiology technicians who took her x-rays and sonogram plus other nurses and staff who tended to my daughter’s GI distress.
A is fine. We left the hospital at 2:30 a.m. and when she woke up around 8 a.m., she was back to her normal, plucky self. Her sister, C, decided to get up around 5 a.m. because she missed us so much. It was now Wednesday morning, and it’s my day to work from home while taking care of the girls (I also do it on Mondays too, with scheduled three days in our office).
I still had this nagging feeling. Like I flunked a test. I didn’t know exactly what time she ate earlier that day and how much and what her poops had been looking like if she had any at all. I knew some of the details, but with two infants the same age, it all tends to run together.
Then the thoughts seemed to spiral out of control. “Maybe I should have stayed home with her and not gone into work.” “What am I doing, trying to run a business and tend to clients and make sure my children are well taken care of?” Doubt was creeping in and yelling extremely loudly in my ear. Kind of like in cartoons where you have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.
But wait a minute. When I am at work, I am taking care of my children. How? I am earning a living to provide for them. I own a business so I can have the flexibility to work when I can and where I need to. I have a space to do my work so that I can focus on them as much as possible when I get home. I report to myself (and my business partner). No one holds higher accountability standards for me than I do.
After taking a few deep breaths and many days to contemplate, I have a new mantra:
I do want it all…just not right now.
I will continue to work in the office some days and other days work from home (or the zoo, the park, the store) and take care of my girls. I am building a business that one day will provide for our family in many different ways, the most important is flexibility. (God knows you need that when you have twins!)
My situation is just right for me. Right now. But I know that little voice will always be there. What do you do to alleviate “mommy guilt,” so it doesn’t take over too much?