04. I cMost of the time being a working mom isn’t such a big deal. It’s just a normal pattern of life, the same as many other moms have. My family has a pretty good routine going and we’re pretty happy with our schedule. But every now and then the demands of being a full-time employee conflict with my responsibilities as a wife and mother. In those cases I have to choose between paycheck and child. Last week was one of those times when work and motherhood collide and I have no regrets that I sacrificed my reputation as an employee for my son.
When Work and Motherhood Collide
On a lazy Tuesday evening as we were all settling in for the evening I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. The rest is kind of a blur, but I remember some snippets of the conversation.
“… An accident”
“… Paramedics advise going to the nearest hospital”
“… In a lot of pain”
It was the kind of phone call a mother dreads. While things could have been far worse, it’s terrifying to find out that your child is injured and requires immediate medical care.
After rushing to meet my son at the ER, all the missing details were filled in. He had fallen while roller skating. His right ankle was broken in several places. A splint would be put on to keep the bones in place until we could get to a pediatric orthopedist. The injury was treatable but may require extensive treatment.
The timing couldn’t have been worse
But I guess that’s the definition of an emergency, isn’t it? I had already taken the day off work to stay home with the twins, who were sick with the stomach flu. I had parent conferences scheduled for the following day, but while in the ER I was quickly making arrangements to postpone those.
We spent most of the next day at the children’s hospital hoping to have the fracture repaired by a specialist. Unfortunately, the doctors weren’t able to push the bones back together. Surgery was recommended, as soon as possible.
Our care was transferred to our insurance carrier’s hospital, where we spent another half-day doing pre-operation tests and scans. Our appointment was so early in the morning that I had hoped to still be able to hold parent conferences later on that day. After several hiccups in the process, it became clear that I wasn’t going to make the already rescheduled conferences after all.
There was nothing I could do
We were at the hospital, where the phone service is practically nonexistent. With it being such short notice, emailing the families wasn’t a reasonable option. I had to make a difficult decision.
I called my supervisor and told her there was no way I could make it to parent conferences. It wasn’t even possible to call families to let them know I wouldn’t be there. I asked if she could please tape a note to my classroom door because today I’m not even going to try and be an employee. I’m a mom first and foremost.
It didn’t sit well with me to bail on all those families. They entrust their children to my care, and my commitment to my own child had a negative impact on the children in my class.
Sometimes being dedicated to my family makes me feel like I’m being selfish. Having to choose between somebody else’s child and my own doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult, but it is. I care deeply for the students and families in my class. It breaks my heart to let them down.
Regardless of your profession, it’s never easy to have to choose between work and motherhood. It takes a conscious effort to push away the guilt you feel for not choosing the other, and to be confident that you made the right choice. I hope I’m not alone in feeling like, no matter what I do I’m going to be disappointing someone. I just don’t want that someone to be my child. 7c2e0580ad6cb2f0df3056f6bcfa88098e1cdbdc453438aaf7