Why oh why did I feel so guilty for taking two days off work to take care of my sick daughter? I’m lucky working for the NHS as I can use emergency parental leave days for when the children are poorly, which are fully paid. You can have up to 10 a year if needed, but I never use any where near that. In my six months back to work this was the first time I’d had to stay home due to one of the children being poorly.
My daughter had had a high temperature all Sunday and snotty nose and we had a really restless night. I just knew she was going to be too poorly to go to nursery on the Monday so was prepared for a day at home with her. So in the morning I phoned work to let them know I wouldn’t be in and prepared myself for a day at home caring for my sick daughter. Poor little miss was really poorly and just clung to me all day dozing on and off on my lap as I cuddled her.
I sat on the sofa holding my daughter and suddenly a rush of guilt came over me. ‘I should be at work’ my conscience was telling me. I started thinking about all the things I needed to do at work and should be doing. The meetings that had to be rearranged that I should have attended. Then I looked down at my daughter cuddling in to me so poorly and I held her tight and felt guilty for thinking about work and that making feeling guilty. I can’t win, I thought! I’m just going to feel guilty whatever I do!
I remember when my boy was a similar age to my daughter now. He had a few illnesses and many a time I left him with nanny or granny and grandad to be looked after, whilst I went off to work. Why? Why did I not look after him more when he needed me? I feel guilty for that now. I made a promise to myself after returning to work after my second maternity leave. That if my children needed me, I would be there, come rain or shine, work would come second place. Yet there I was feeling guilty for doing just that.
As I’m writing this my daughters poorly again and going to work tomorrow is uncertain again. The words ‘can’t your parents look after her’ came out of my mouth when I spoke to my hubby about it and I hated myself for it. And so the guilt comes in again. Today I have to promise myself that if my child is poorly and needs me, I will be there. Work will take second place and I shouldn’t feel guilty for it.