Your daily serving of maternal guilt

It’s been at least a week since I posted about working mother guilt. Surely we’re due for more angst?

Poor Simon. He and Tristan were horsing around just before bedtime, and Tristan more or less took him out at the knees, completely by accident. Simon cried for a few minutes, but not with that heart-stopping urgent cry of pain that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up and gives you little doubt that you’re about to reaquaint yourself with the local health-care facilities.

He was easily comforted by Beloved, but started crying again when he tried to take his weight on the injured leg. We called a boo-boo bunny into service, then spent 20 minutes or so playing various ‘games’ trying to figure out the extent, and even the location of the injury. Even though he was obviously favouring the sore leg, and even wobbling a bit when he put his weight on it, he could jump on both feet and stand on the sore leg while holding my hand, and he climbed the stairs without complaint.

Trying to figure out the severity of an injury to a stoic three year old is a little bit like trying to read the mind of a crazy person. The terms of reference keep shifting. I touch his knee and ask, “Does it hurt here?” and he says no. I touch his ankle, his shin, and his toes and ask, “Does it hurt here?” and he says no. I touch his knee again and ask, “Does it hurt here?” and he says yes. I touch his ankle and ask, “Does it hurt here?” and he says, with obvious expiration of patience, “Mommy, stop it!”

This morning, he is still favouring it but doesn’t cry when he walks on it. I just called Beloved at home, as he has the boys for two hours between when I leave and when they leave for school and daycare, and he says Simon seems fine now, and he’ll have the daycare provider call me if she notices any trouble. There’s no bruising, no swelling. We even spoke to a nurse at TeleHealth Ontario this morning, and although she recommended we see a doctor, I’m trusting Beloved’s assessment that he’s fine, not complaining, not hurting, and so we’ll wait and see how it is in a couple of hours.

This is the part about working and mothering I hate. After almost two years back in the office, I still feel horrendous guilt at having to choose between an overflowing plate of responsibilities at work and the pull of my possibly-hurting baby. I hate having to choose between competing responsibilities, and I hate having to leave the assessment of Simon’s condition to anybody else – daycare provider or Beloved. Mostly, though, I hate that I’m here at work instead of at home while I’m writing this.


Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

5 thoughts on “Your daily serving of maternal guilt”

  1. That’s really hard, Dani. It’s impossible for me to delegate the caregiving when I think my child is sick or hurt, and truly needs me. At least, I need to be there to see for myself that the kid is okay, at times like that. I’m sorry you have to be pulled in 2 directions today.
    I hope Simon is completely fine by this afternoon, tearing around and jumping on and off the furniture and making lots of happy noise as usual. (Well, that’s what my kids do!)

  2. I also hope Simon is feeling better than new and that you end up wondering why you worried.
    The mother-guilt is something I also wrestle with regularly…the “should I/shouldn’t I/oh, she’ll be fine/won’t she?” thoughts ping-pong around in my brain and it can be so tiring on my spirit.
    Fact is, there have been times when I’ve left work suddenly for a sick child but there have been even more times when they are wired for sound when I get home and I wonder why I worried. I’m just glad I’m in a job that I can step away from in a moment’s notice if I need to.
    I wish there was a simple answer for these situations… a magic formula that would make everything clear and simple but all I can do is the best in the circumstances… and that doesn’t always mean staying home.

  3. Some conseils gratuits:
    TeleHealth Ontario’s default is to send you to the doctor. Honest to god, I don’t know why they exist since they’ve only ever told me to go to the doctor (or hospital) immediately. Even when it turned out to be gas. (don’t ask)

  4. Dani,
    I hope Simon is completely recovered. As if the worry isn’t enough, somedays the (working) mommy guilt really kills me too.
    Does it make you feel any better to know that even if you were at home, you’d still have mommy guilt, just a different flavour? At least that’s what I’ve found.
    [My scenario? Had one child, stayed home for a year, now pg with second child, going to stay home for another year. But still going to keep older child in part-time montessori. Talk about major guilt there…bad mommy for being at home & still sending my kid away….]
    No fix, just a sympathetic hug.

  5. Ah, I say ditch the mother guilt! We all feel it (working or stay-at-home), but it is so pointless and in some ways allows you to take a victim stance. Take charge: if you really don’t like being a working mom, find a way to be a stay-at-home mom. Where there is a will, there is a way. There’s always sacrifices though … stay-at-home moms don’t get the adult comforts of an office and working moms don’t get the comforts of staying home when they might like to (like you today). I think we all make decisions that are best for us and our family — on MOST days — and for the other days, ah well … our kids will never remember those days anyways!!

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