Your kid is sick, you stay home. I get it. I’ve always done it. Sometimes it really sucks, and sometimes it’s the perfect excuse to spend all day on the couch in pajamas watching Disney movies. It’s an inconvience but best case there’s a stay at home parent who can cancel play dates and errands. Worst case, there are 2 working parents who can trade off cancelling meetings and annoying their boss.
But what happens when there’s a single parent, or a solo parent? Solo parenting, by the way, is the term catching fire for a married parent who’s spouse is gone from the house for work: military spouses, spouses of doctors working on call shifts, or in my case, the spouse of an auditor. I never really realized the struggles of working parents because I’ve never been one until recently. I didn’t understand the rules of daycare because my kids never had to abide by them. But I’ve been back in the workforce for roughly 2 months now, and I’ve knowingly sent my kids to daycare with fevers 3 times now. My kids are patient zero. They’re the ones who made your kid sick. And I’m really sorry about that, but I’m also not going to change it because I can’t.
So I want to make a plea on behalf of every working single and solo parent: we aren’t crappy parents, but trust me when I say that we really feel like it when we’re loading our kids with Motrin 45 minutes before a daycare drop off hoping to buy us 5 hours of work before daycare calls. We’re going to act surprised when daycare calls, but we’re not. We’re a little relieved that we got away with it as long as we did. And then we’re a little scared to tell our boss that yes, once again, we’re leaving work because our kids don’t have child care options.
I can almost hear all of the thought of working spouses: why are you so scared? Your kid is sick, it is what it is. Yep, you’re right. But with one hiccup: my kids have been sick 4 times this month already and I don’t have anyone else in my house right now to step in so I can stay at work. That’s 4 sick days that I had to take at the last minute, one more coming down the line, and at least 6 more on the near horizon at this rate. Who wouldn’t want us as their employees? Eye roll
To anyone who manages people (or will ever in their careers), I want to leave you with this thought: go easy on us. We don’t want to take these days off any more than you want us to. We don’t want to spend one more evening planning out Motrin doses to get the most out of our work day that we can, and we don’t want to feel like shitty parents when we take our kids to daycare when we know they have a fever. Every single part of this situation that might sound hard is.
I told my boss today that for the second time this week I have sent a child to daycare sick, and for the second time this week I expect to have to leave around lunch. His response: “No problem. If you need to take tomorrow off as well, that’s fine.”
He has 2 kids. He gets it.