Part-Time Vet – Full Time Guilt
You hear a great deal about how guilty working mums feel. Guilty that they leave their children, guilty that the house is a mess, guilty that they are always running as fast as they can to catch up, guilty when they miss school trips and play dates and all those other things.
I’m a part-time vet and also a mother to three small children. I feel guilty, of course, but not just towards them.
I know they are happy in childcare and school. I do hate that I can’t always be there for them and that I’m constantly running late but….
… the guilt I feel most keenly is towards my colleagues and my clients.
I feel guilty that I am not in work more often, that colleagues have to pick up my cases, that I can’t reply to messages or report results as quickly as I would like to, that I feel like am behind in my knowledge and skills because I only work a couple of days a week.
I try my very best but I worry all the time that I come up short.
I work hard to keep my patients under my care. Not for any arrogant reason but because I know the other vets have enough work to do without taking mine on as well.
I have tried in the past to call clients with updates on my days off but it never works. I now make a point of telling people I will call on my next day at work and usually they are fine with this, although my conscience pricks. More urgent cases do get handed over, with an apology (and more guilt).
I am now experimenting with emailing advice on my days off and that is more successful. Not ideal but it makes me happier than keeping my patients waiting.
I don’t have a particular love of surgery but I don’t want to lose my skills. However, it isn’t often a procedure, unless elective, can wait a week or more for a slot to see me. So again, they tend to be handed over. Burdening (in my head) other vets and meaning I miss out.
My colleagues have never really given me significant reason to feel this way but that won’t stop me over-analysing our conversations. I know when I was the full-timer, I regularly rolled my eyes when the mummies waltzed out for their days off (as I saw it then!)
I try to mitigate my feelings by being as helpful as possible on my days at work. Answering nurse queries, reporting results and sorting prescription requests. I am also obsessive about finishing everything before I leave, usually staying late to ensure as little as possible is left undone.
There’s not much that I can do about feeling like I am slipping behind. I firmly believe that the best way to learn and progress as a vet is to just to do the job. That’s not to say I don’t study in my ‘spare time’. I regularly watch webinars while doing (minimal!) housework and reading case discussions online. The last ‘romantic’ weekend away I had with my husband was at a veterinary conference!
I’m not really sure how to square this circle. I can’t really work any more than I do at the moment and if I’m honest, I don’t want to, my children are small and I enjoy my time with them.
But the merry-go-round in my head is exhausting. I would like it to stop but I don’t think it will. Nor do I think I am particularly special in this regard, I think this guilt is probably burdening most of the mothers (and fathers, let’s not forget them) in this profession.
For now, I will just keep ploughing on. Doing the best job I can and accepting that I can’t do everything. Telling myself that I am good at what I do. Being focused on my job while I am there and my family when I am not. Being thankful for the support of my team and hoping they aren’t secretly bitching about me in the break room.
I will still carry the guilt but I will try to not let it slow me down.