After becoming a mother, I realized there was a lot of shit people forgot to mention in those baby shower advice cards. For instance, no one told me how much time I would spend talking about, and worrying about, my kid’s bowel movements. The color, consistency, and frequency of baby poop is a hot topic in early motherhood—who knew? Not this girl. I also had no idea that being a good mom often means being a flaky employee.
I knew going into this gig, that there would be some missed work days here and there, but until I was knee deep in it with a couple of kids, I didn’t realize how many days it would actually be. Spoiler alert: It’s a lot.
Missing work is hard for me because I’m a recovering perfectionist. I say recovering because there is no room for perfectionism in motherhood. Trust me, the sooner you realize that, the better off you will be. For me, it took almost a year to let go of my control-freak, perfectionist nature, and embrace motherhood for the glorious, unpredictable mess that it is. And though I’m more flexible with my expectations, I’ve always felt if you are going to do something, you should do it to the best of your ability.
Though I’m nowhere near perfect, I’m a damn good mom 80% of the time, and solidly average the other 20%. And sometimes being a good mom means being a flaky employee. This is where it gets tricky, because I want to be awesome at both, but there are times you have to pick one over the other. When I have to choose between being a good employee or being a good mother, my kids win hands-down, every time. My work is important to me, but mom life is my first life.
It’s not that I want to be a flake, because I don’t. In fact, I hate it. I bail on my co-workers pretty frequently for one reason or another because I have two kids. Between class parties, field trips, sick days (OMG, THE SICK DAYS), and doctor’s visits, I’m out a couple times a month. I bust my ass when I’m at work — because I love my job and I want to be a strong member of the team — but I just can’t put work first. I won’t.
Another one of those you-forgot-to-mention things is how often kids get sick. I mean, I get it, they’re building an immune system, but how many viruses are there? And why don’t pediatricians have punch cards? I should have earned a free visit by now. Strep throat, influenza, hand, foot and mouth, pink eye, ear infection, after ear infection, after ear infection, and about 90 other random, no-name viruses are the bane of my existence. Well, technically, my kids’ existence, since they are the ones contracting every virus in the state.
I hate missing work when my kids are sick, but I’m their mama, and I’m going to be there to take care of them whenever possible, even if that means calling in, or God forbid, losing my job. It’s just not a choice for me. Also, there’s not that many people lining up to watch my contagious kids even if I was hellbent on making my shift. They are my first priority and always will be.
I’m fortunate to have a great support system to help when I’m in a pinch, but most of the time, I miss work for things I want to be there for. I want to go on field trips, class parties, baseball games, Muffins With Mom, and Preschool Graduation. Those moments are part of the gig — the mom-things I have always dreamed of doing.
I know not all moms have the luxury of calling in even when their babies are sick. Sometimes you have to go to work or the bills won’t get paid. Being a good mom takes many different forms and looks different for all of us. We all do what we have to do to provide for our babies.
I may be a flake, but I’m a good mom, and I will always be there for my kids, even when it means bailing on my job.