We were having a good run. Since Christmas there hadn't been so much as a runny nose in our house. No trips to the doctor or the pharmacy were taken. All three of us were feeling good. Then last week, as I was packing up after a long day at work, a number popped up on my caller ID.
"Hi Ms. P-, this is Ms So-and-so from Maxwell's daycare. He's running 102.5 underarm and we need you to come pick him up."
That was last Tuesday and he hasn't been back to day care since.
This fever issue was generally mild. Between working strange hours, switching shifts and one round at the sick room at work (where Max will never go back too, but that's another story), Brett and I actually managed to work a full week. By Friday he was good as new and we enjoyed a nice weekend as a family.
Since I work part time, I was off on Monday. Max was acting totally fine and I was accomplishing some serious house cleaning. At 3PM, things changed. First there was the diaper which I heard from across the room. An hour later I was cleaning vomit from the front of my shirt. And I continued to clean vomit as the poor child counldn't keep even the smallest amounts of liquid down.
I felt terrible for my son. He was (and still is) absolutely miserable. However, I also panicked. How can I call in sick AGAIN when I had to do the same thing last week? I don't have family in town. Most of my friends work full time and if they don't, they also have kids and don't want to run the risk of catching Max's bug. Brett and I have no choice but to creatively rearrange our schedules so we can watch Max yet make important meetings and deadlines.
I'm lucky- my boss is fabulous (and no, she doesn't read this! I'm not sucking up!). She has children and has been in my shoes. She's told me time and time again not to feel guilty about taking care of my sick kid. My schedule is flexbile and I can work whenever I can. Still, as her assistant, I know she depends on me and I hate having to call in so frequently, espeically when it's two weeks in a row. My husband too works for a family friendly company, but they are in critical mode right now and it's a lot harder to get away. Plus, his job is our primary income, so he can't take as many risks.
So now, as I sit here, waiting for my husband to be done with his half of the day so I can run to work and play catch up, I wonder how much of this is worth it? At what point does the lost vacation, lost money (day care still gets paid even if the kid doesn't show up) and stress from being off start to trump the little bit of extra income I bring home?
At what point do I step away from the job I love, at a company I love, with co-workers that I love because of guilt? Guilt that I need someone else to take care of my kid when sick. Guilt that I can't do my job to the best of my ability. Guilt that I'm not Supermom, SuperEmployee and SuperWife. Guilt that I am working because I want to and not because, financially, I have too.
There's no easy answer. Some people love being a stay at home parent and swear it is the only life for them. Others claim they are a better parent because they work and cherish the time they do have at home. I have my foot in both worlds and still can't manage to make it work.
This is an issue that requires more discerment and I'm not quite ready to make a decison.
So for now, I just sit an sing the Working Mom's Blues.
PS. Sorry for the bloggy absence, but I'm back! Miss me?