Thursday, January 19, 2012

Working Mom Guilt

Maybe it was the postpartum.  Maybe it was the fact that I was on maternity leave during the cold months of winter.  Or maybe it was because I had no SAHM friends to keep me company.  But I couldn't wait to go back to work.  Lots of moms told me about how they cried on their first day leaving their child.   Not me.

I was so laid back.  Well, laid back for me.  (The Husband will say that I'm a tad neurotic, controlling and sometimes a worry wart.)

And then after the diagnosis, I was reading about the 'cold mother' theory and those first few months, I kept thinking of new reasons why autism was my fault.

Fast forward a few years...

I know autism isn't my fault.  But that doesn't mean the guilt is gone.  

So yesterday, I had my first breakdown of 2012.  I came home from work, sat on the sofa and just cried. (The Boy wasn't home from school yet.  I try not to cry in front of him, it's too upsetting for him.) And after I cried, I still didn't feel right. I hate that feeling, when my nerves get the better of me.  When my thoughts are all over the place and it's hard to focus.  And I have to keep reminding myself to breathe in and out slowly because my heart is racing and my hands are shaking.  Too much uncertainty, lots of built up frustration and other stuff going on that I can't discuss here.  Not now, anyway.

Tomorrow is The Boy's 6th birthday.  I'm going to send cupcakes and other party stuff into school.  But I can't be there.  I'd like to be.  I always have in the past.  But this year I can't.  I have to conserve my vacation days. (Last year, the majority of my vacation days were used on sick days, appointments, school interviews and IEP meetings. By the time December came, I had only 1 day left.) And since I'm taking Monday as a "vacation day" because we going through the evaluation process all over again, I can't take off Friday to go to The Boy's school. 

I missed so much at The Boy's last school.  It's impossible to take off for everything, even though I'd love to be there for everything.   And even this year,  I've missed a lot.  Like PTA meetings, because they're in the mornings and that requires me taking a half day.  The Boy's school trip to the NY Botanical Garden.   

It sucks when you want to be there and can't.  I know I can't quit my job.  And I know that lots of other moms are dealing with this same kind of guilt.  And I know that The Boy doesn't feel slighted because I'm not there.  And (most days) I know I'm doing the best that I can.  But it still sucks just the same.

(And if this post is all over the place, I apologize.  I'm still trying to breathe slowly.)

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.