When I was little girl I didn’t like to go to school. I liked it once I got there, but I was very attached to my mother and had separation issues. In retrospect I wish home schooling had been popular back then as I would have been a perfect candidate for it. But my poor mother needed a break.
One of my ploys in trying to avoid going to school was to pretend I was sick. Monday morning was the prime day for these ‘illnesses’ to overtake me. I was naïve enough to think no one would catch on, but my mother was no fool. She came up with a sure-fire way to avoid unnecessary truancy. This was her criterion for me to stay home from school:
I know you are expecting more but this was it.
As I grew up and became a responsible adult this rule stuck with me. It has helped me push through when less dedicated people would have called a time out. It has created memories of driving to work with a barf bag in one hand, and the steering wheel in another. It has been a badge of honor.
I pride myself on excellent attendance, and my belief is that 90% of success is showing up.
But have I taken it too far?
Last winter I missed two full weeks of work due to a crazy upper respiratory infection and then pneumonia. Well, the first week I had taken one day off as a holiday, so technically the first week was not a full week. The fact that I just wrote that last sentence tells me I have some ‘issues’ around this topic.
- Ego – How can my work team get along without me?
- Shame – What is wrong with me that I can’t push through and work even if I am sick?
- Workaholism – the 5-year-old potato-picking child comes out to chide me for being ‘lazy’ and indulging in time to recuperate.
- Difficulty with ‘sick’ qualification – I had a fever only for 3 days so how can I justify the rest of my sick days? After all I could wear a mask at work and take multiple changes of underwear for those uncontrolled coughing spells.
- Fear of disapproval – I hope I still have somewhat of a cough when I go back to work next week, as people may think I made the whole thing up.
- Over-responsibility – I have a commitment to my work team, my singing groups, my church choir, etc. etc. – I can’t let them down. This ties in with no. 1-5.
I wonder if this is a baby boomer syndrome or if people from all ages struggle with issues of calling in sick. I’d love to hear your views on it to:
1) Give me comfort that I’m not alone
….or even better
2) Show me a new way to look at things.