When The Kids Are Sick

Most of the time I don’t feel guilty about being a working mum. Most of the time I feel OK with our decision for me to go back to work, and while I’m still doing about 4 or 5 hours more than I think is ideal every week, I do that for the payoff that I actually have a job. One that is permanent and pays me holiday and sick leave. Do you know how hard those are to find?

I don’t make as much money as my husband, but I make more than half his paycheck, so it’s not an insignificant amount, either. I may not be the main breadwinner in our house, but that doesn’t mean that people don’t rely on me.

Nick is sick. He’s had an increasingly bad cough, and last night it peaked (God I hope that was the peak, I don’t want it to get worse!). He was in and out of sleep, coughing and dry-heaving, then spitting up some seriously gross and thick mucus (sorry, hope you are not eating). We ended up calling the Dr out to check him out and he put him on an antibiotic and recommended a cough syrup. The Mechanic went out, 9:30 last night, to fill the script and get the syrup only to be told they don’t sell cough syrup over the counter for under 6 year olds anymore. But that’s not what this blog is about.

Nick managed to calm down around 10pm and finally had a good solid sleep until about 4 am. When he awoke again later he seemed improved, back to his happier self. So he went to kindy.

At 11 am I got a call that he had been coughing quite constantly, and would be better off at home. I had a feeling this would be the case, today. I wanted to stay home, but at my work, there’s 3 of us who can do this job. The boss’s RDO is today and my coworker had to take his son to the hospital to have his broken wrist examined. Mum was away for the weekend and won’t be home til this afternoon, my sisters at work. That left The Mechanic to get him.

I don’t like asking my husband to take time off because Nick is sick, or because I am sick. I don’t like doing it, because I know he doesn’t like asking. He doesn’t like asking because the reaction he gets is always the same…that it’s inconvenient and not really a good enough excuse to leave work. Not in so many words, but it’s implied. He tries to say family comes first, yet when we have no choice, and The Mechanic needs to take time off, he isn’t overly accommodating about it.

He comes from a generation where the women stayed home and tended to sick children. He was fortunate enough to be in a position that his wife was at home with the kids and always there for school pick ups, drop offs, illnesses, holidays, whatever. That’s not the case with us. Nick is OUR son, not just mine. We both earn an income, with both have employers who rely on us, we both accrue time which we can use in cases like today. I have arranged to have tomorrow off. This, like everything else related to our life, is a shared duty. And just because I am the mum, and I make less than the dad, it does not mean that it’s my job, and solely my job, to take care of Nick when he’s sick.

Yet this is when I most feel guilty about working. This is when I wish it was the 1950s again and I was June Cleaver, at home in the kitchen, wearing my apron, hair coiffed, the Mrs slippers waiting by his recliner for when he returns from a hard day’s work. This is when I feel like my being at work is failing my child. Oh, I know it’s not. But Mothers Guilt isn’t that easily squashed.Today, instead of feeling guilty that my husband had to leave work, I’ll be thankful that I can tomorrow off, paid, and stay home with my little guy. And I’ll hope this coughing crap is over sooner rather than later!

Who looks after your kids when they’re sick? Are you expected to handle all things child-related?

Linking up with Jess at Diary of a Stay at Home Mum for I Blog On Tuesdays.


25 thoughts on “When The Kids Are Sick

  1. Big hugs to your little guy (and a few for you) – this is one of my biggest fears with going back to work away from the house as my husband already works insane hours and i fear he won’t be able to get away for a kids sick day. Thankfully he has managed to do it twice in the last year when i had a commitment I could not get out of. I still worry about it if i stopped working from home…this is a hard one. deb xx

    • It is a hard one, because you know that employers will be thinking “oh her kid is sick AGAIN”, even if it’s only the 2nd time in a year! Seems like if you’re off because of a kid it’s this big hassle/controversy/travesty…Nick seemed to get sick the first week I started both my last job and the one I’m in now, and Mike was able to take off. It’s hard on either parent, because you obviously know your kid comes first, but you don’t want to let your boss down or give them any reason to start “watching” you so to speak. Just all ’round not a nice situation, but really, we can’t schedule when our kids are going to be sick!

  2. Yr hubbie probably feels like he does because he doesn’t want to let the team down at work either. Its an awkward feeling to do that and I don’t think men do it as well as women because of the ingrained stereotypes and because they’re not good at dealing with uncomfortable feelings. I don’t think u are alone in your feelings though and it can be frustrating to say the least. Women are just stronger in makeup but it can also hurt to be the strong one. I hope yr son gets better soon.

    • He’s very much like that. He would rather go to work sick as a dog than call in and use a sick day. He especially hates it when it’s not even him that’s sick, because you’re right, there’s definitely that mentality there that men don’t do that! Thanks, I hope he’s better soon, too 😦

  3. I hope that N is so much better today and that you all got a good nights sleep. It is hard. In our family A was the one who tended to take time off work if K was sick – I don’t do sick very well and so it generally fell to him to do. There were times I felt guilty about working but for a lot of the time I was the major breadwinner and less able to get leave – mainly because I didn’t want to ask for it (my own fault !!!). Things have changed now and I am more likely to take time off if needed although she does tend to sort most things out herself.
    It is a hard one but you are right – N is both your and M’s child and the responsibility is shared between you.
    Sending lots of love, hugs and positive energy your way with wishes for a speedy recovery !

    • We had a bit of a rough night actually! I am hoping tonight is heaps better but not holding my breath. Where’s that money tree when you need it? Would be nice to be able to always be here with/for Nick, but it hasn’t worked out like that.

  4. I hope N is feeling better today -i was so angry for you guys on twitter last night when i read this. You are absolutely right – its not fair. We aren’t living in the ’50s, and whilst I understand that interruption to work or the work space may be unexpected, or ‘annoying’ it is what it is and employers should respect that, not make parents feel guilty about it x

    • Apparently he had a former employee who “abused” this kind of thing? WTF? Mike is NOT the former employee. He’s been there over 2 years FFS, surely he knows by now how little Mike calls out sick and how hard a worker he is. Really really annoying! The “little wife” mentality is also very annoying!

  5. Oh hope N are feeling better today! I look after my lil squirts when I am ill.. but if I am ill too.. my husband takes time off.. and lets me sleep.. he’s very good at that..

    #teamIBOT was here to say hello! πŸ™‚

  6. Oh there really is nothing worse is there? I am terrified about that when I go back to work soon. I was working when my son was a baby and the amount of time I had to take off wasn’t worth it. When I separated from his dad I quit work to stay at home with him. It’s hard when both parents work, not all employers are understanding, and I hate to say it, but I’ve found male bosses to be a lot less understanding.

    • I have 2 bosses, both female, neither have children. one sort of gets it, the other one not really at all! I might as well have male bosses! Would be nice if they just never got sick but as if that is going to happen!

  7. So hope N’s cough has lessened a lot today hon. Its so horrible that you / everyone should feel so guilty for having to legitimately take a day off for family. We have some bosses like that here, one who is a horrible hard ass who makes the woman / men feel guilty, and another who is like YEP SURE GO FOR IT… why can’t everyone be like that.

    Hope N is better and can return to kindy and his normal funky self ASAP xx

    • He hasn’t been too bad personality wise – he’s mostly pretty good, but the cough is taking it’s toll. I think he’s as over it as I am, if not more so. Poor kid has been a real trooper. Wish it would piss off tho! Thanks Meagan. x

  8. I get you totally! We are in a similar situation and it’s always a battle as to who takes time off when the little Miss is sick (then I feel guilty that I’m not immediately dropping everything to be with my sick child!!). As we work in the same industry, it can be as easy or difficult for us to take a day off at any one time. We tend to take it in turns, which I’m grateful for. Fingers crossed N’s nasty cough clears up soon and enjoy your cuddles tomorrow x

    • Thanks Mandie. I guess we all do what we have to/what we can with what we have, right? Frustrating that we work so hard for these people and then when something like this happens, you feel guilty for having to take time off. We’re entitled to sick leave and pretty sure carers leave, also. I can understand if someone is “abusing” it and taking a lot of days off, but neither hubby nor I are like that, so it would be nice if his boss would appreciate that.

    • Yep! I am just grateful we only have 1 child who for the most part is usually a pretty healthy kid, or this would be even harder!

  9. Yeah my husband’s boss is like that … he’s very old school in general … well, he is 70 after all!

    When I feel guilty about working? When my high schoolers come (came? one is finished school!) home to an empty house 4 days per week. Mind you I am home only an hour and a half after them, but I really wish I could be there – especially when they get/got into mischief!!!

    • I do love working and making extra income for us and having that adult time, but I am going to hate having my son in before/after school care. Not many 9-3 jobs around though and the ones that are around, there’s thousands of mums who want them! Just have to do what we can and make the most of what we have.

  10. I’m so sorry that someone else’s opinion affects you so much. It’s not fair in any sense of the word and a very outdated and limiting view.
    Let’s hope a more accommodating employer isn’t too far away on the horizon for all of you. xxXOoo

    • The problem is this is really the only area in which is boss is frustrating. Hubby loves his job, his place of work, the guys he works with…it’s just this mentality that is incredibly frustrating. I’m more hoping for a lottery win on the horizon πŸ˜‰

    • I’ve told hubby to ask his boss for a $650/week raise so I can stay home and then I won’t bother him for anything again…don’t see that happening any time soon though.

  11. I hope N is feeling better soon, I so hear you about actually having a job in this environment, especially one that has even close to the hours you want to work.

    I’m so lucky that I work in an environment that believes (and actually walks the walk) that family comes first and doesn’t penalise me for taking time off, even though I am literally the only person in the office… the trade off for that is that I’m doing a job well, well below my skill level & in a totally different industry & discipline. Because of that it’s me that always takes up the slack when D is sick…I get resentful of that though – I know my boss is super good and it’s not like an entire country or two of employees is awaiting whatever I’m doing these days but I am the only one there and the work is still important in its own way.

    • I think that is what frustrated me the most. He is full time so his job is more important? Or he is male so it’s more important? Or maybe it’s just it was an inconvenience to his boss, so that made his job more important? Like my job is insignificant and it doesn’t matter what is going on at my work, or the fact I’m the only one there for an 11.5 hour shift and can’t get away! Oh well, it’s done now, his boss was fine today, but not before Mike volunteered to work early every day this week to make up for yesterday!

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