I work for a corporation and lead a team of engineers who make software for healthcare. I “work from home” but only because I was unwilling to move to the corporate offices; I am in a full office job with the expectations that I work as though I was in an office, but my office happens to be my home.
Put another way, I spend all of my day on conference calls and glued to my computer.
My son, therefore, has always gone to a caregiver outside of my home. On the days he can’t (school vacations, sick days, etc.), I do a terrible job of trying to work while hearing him fuss and cry and laugh and be a kid, and a terrible job of being focused mama while juggling emails typed on my phone during little bitty stolen moments. My team knows that if he’s home, they might hear (and ignore) the background noise; his caregivers know that sometimes (not often, really!) I drop him off with a muted phone in my hand.
It works. Mostly.
And now, today, I find out that I’ve been nominated for a prestigious thing again (yay for me) that means I have to travel away from my family and leave Joey as the sole parent for a week (boo). Each time, I’m wracked with guilt. My job is the one that provides for us right now, so he feels like his takes a backseat if mine needs me – and it does. And although technically these things are extra, they’re also necessary for keeping my career growing and secure, something extra important since I live far away from the mothership.
I don’t doubt that SAHM’s struggle with guilt – apparently guilt is a mama thing – but I have to admit that the constant back and forth wears on me. If I were the daddy, I would miss my son but I don’t think I’d feel bad about leaving my son in the sole care of his other parent, right?
So, I’ll do what I always do: try to find a brilliant solution that means I don’t have to leave Joey single-handedly shouldering the burden of parenting. Can Javi go with me? Take a nanny? Both of them join? Fly a relative in to watch him? Make it a family trip?
And in the end, I’ll end up where I always do: taking Javi along is harder on him and harder on me. His rhythm is disrupted and I can’t focus on the learning I’m supposed to be doing.
And Joey will end up where he, thus far, always has: home alone with a not-so-fun-these-days-toddler while I’m away and feeling guilty.
Modern motherhood is hard, y’all.