Even though we are a two-income household, the brunt of the home-life juggling act falls to me. Most of the time, I don’t begrudge our mostly traditional roles. I have the luxury of being able to work from home; my spouse has the misfortune to have an hour-long commute. When the kids are sick, it almost always falls on me to rearrange my work schedule to care for them. But now that my son’s caregiver has caught the flu that is making its way throughout the bay area and the rest of the country, I’m really struggling with this “you work from home, you take the brunt of the home stuff” arrangement.
On the first day, I thought that I could put on Sesame Street for an hour in the morning to work then take my son to his mid-morning art class at our local community center for some mommy-time. Instead, I couldn’t get my toddler to sit down and watch the show. He was much more interested in touching the buttons on mommy’s “poo-ter.” That’s “computer” for those of you not fluent in the language of toddler; not some code word for private parts.
We made it to the toddler art class. Late. My son refused to participate in circle time or story time. I tried my best to be the upbeat, patient mom that is expected of all mothers who take their kids to the community center for art class. The only thing I was really good at was letting my son do his art project on his own. I’m a firm believer that you should never do anything but encourage your kids in art. It helped that I got a call during the class that I couldn’t ignore.
On the second day, I got up two hours before I usually do to start working. I knew that I couldn’t rely on Sesame Street to help me through. My spouse stayed longer in the morning so that I could attend my morning calls without having to introduce my toddler as the newest (and loudest) team member. But by 10 o’clock, I was already loudly complaining that it was only 10 o’clock. We were hours away from nap time.
There’s a good chance that our caregiver won’t be back to work tomorrow. So I’m pulling out my one and only piece of advice for working parents with a sick kid: BEG EVERYONE YOU KNOW TO TAKE YOUR KID. Grandpa is already lined up for Wednesday and Thursday. Friends may be getting a desperate plea for Friday if my spouse can’t get the day off.
Asking for help is always better than my other option… eat my feelings while rocking in the corner. It’s already been a long week and it’s only Tuesday.