I hear and read stories from other working moms all the time describing the guilt they feel when they miss something their kid does while they're at work, or when their kid gets upset about them leaving for work, or when they have to go to work rather than staying home and playing with their kid. I'm not one of those moms (shocking, I know).
Rather, work has always been an escape for me. In the early days of constant screaming and no sleep, I looked forward to going to work - even though I had an awfully damn shitty working environment - because it got me away from the screaming and the constant nursing for eight hours a day. Now that I have a job I love, I like going to work even more. It's a nice break from the constant demands of a clingy toddler. Mothering is draining in a way that my occupation is not. I'm much better at coping with the demands of lawyering than the demands of mothering.
That's not to say that I don't have my own special type of mommy guilt, though. I do. It's just not...conventional...With W being sick this week, I was lucky enough to get calls to come pick him up from the sitter's in the middle of the workday not once, but twice. The first time, the sitter called right at the end of my lunch hour, and I had a meeting that I absolutely had to attend at 1:30. I told her I would be there to get him as soon after my meeting as I could. It was about an hour and a half after her call that I finally got there.
The second time she called, I was at the OB waiting for my check-up. I obviously wasn't going to get up and walk out, so I told her I would be there as soon as I could after the doc saw me. Before I could go to the sitter's, though, I had to go back to work to get my stuff, get some files so I could work at home that night, and tell my boss that I needed to leave. It took me an hour to get to her place.
In both of these scenarios, I felt some guilt. Not necessarily about not getting to my sick kid immediately, but more about putting my job before my kid. I've noticed that there are days when I tend to do that. But I feel it can't be helped sometimes. In my line of work, there are days when my absence makes no difference, and then there are days that I cannot miss. On the cannot miss days, work comes before kid to the greatest extent possible. I think part of that comes from me still trying to impress the boss. Even though I've been there for over a year, I'm still the newest employee, and I want the boss to like me. I'm also innately an overachieving people-pleaser, and it's much harder to please an adult with authority over me than it is to please my kid, so I try harder to please the adult.
Look at me trying to justify my behavior to assuage my guilt. Looks like I learned at least one useful skill in law school.