Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Mother's guilt

Summing up how I feel today....

This morning I felt an immense guilt. After a sleepless night for me and my 3 years old sick son, I thought I was the worst mother in the world.

You see, my eldest had chicken pox a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't that bad but the childminder couldn't take him because he was contagious, and obviously he couldn't go to school. I took 2 days off, my husband took one, and a friend agreed to mind him for the 2 remaining days. My son was fine, a bit tired, but he had no temperature and the spots were not bothering him.

And now, my toddler caught them as well. He is on the other end of the pain scale though. The poor child is covered in spots (he even have some in his ears), has fever, is cranky and can't sleep because of the itchiness. 

But I can't take more time off from work, and neither can my husband. The childminder cannot look after him and we don't have any family around. We do however, have a fantastic friend who agreed to mind him for the whole week. We would have been really stuck without him and I'm so grateful for his help; but really, I wish I shouldn't have to wake my sick child up at 7am, drag him down in the cold, all that so I can go to work.

I really love working though and I couldn't picture myself as a stay-at-home mother, but I'm gonna be honest. When you don't have any family around who can step in when there's a problem, it's hard. I know we're not the only ones in this situation but as foreigners we constantly have to make choices. 

With only 4 weeks holiday a year (and 1 week compulsory at Christmas), it doesn't leave much room for emergencies and sickness. If I take a week annual leave to stay home with my sick son, I won't be able to go France this summer. If I take half days here and there for medical appointments, how am I going to make it to my best friend's wedding?

I keep counting, recounting, trying to fit all the appointments in one day (something almost impossible with the HSE!). We keep asking our good friend to help us out and then feel guilty about it. Sometimes my mum comes from France but it's not always possible and let's face it, she's not getting any younger. We are lucky to have a great childminder who barely takes holidays and doesn't mind having the kids even if they're under the weather. But there is no safety net for the unexpected. I constantly worry about asking my boss to leave early, take a few hours off and so on, even though my company is very understanding. It's nearly like I feel guilty to have children in the first place.

If you are lucky enough to have family around to give you a hand with childcare, don't take it for granted. You never know what can happen. All I can say is, be grateful for the support you're getting.

I made the choice to make my life here and I have to bear the consequences. If I was asked do I want better wages or more holidays, I would chose the holidays without even thinking.

I could always manage to save and spend less to be able to see my family, but I can't create more free time (although that would be cool!).

So for now, our children may have to suffer the consequences of the choices we make.

And I feel even more guilty about that.