Thursday, March 14, 2013

Well, You're Just Screwed.

Sitting at home with a sick kid, stressed about work and knowing I'm about two hours away from getting sick myself.  I've been reading a lot about women in the workplace and trying to balance family and work lately.  The Atlantic had a great article about it a few months back-it was refreshingly honest. It basically said you CAN'T have it all-not the career you want with being the kind of parent you want to be-that the demands are just too much.  It was kind of a relief to know that more people are struggling with this.

I always put my kid first, but I didn't anticipate having a kid with asthma, or the total germ bath that day care would be, or trying to schedule Ben and my schedules so someone could be home.  We don't have any backup here-no family that can take a day off, and even if they could, what do you say: "Hey, do you mind coming and hanging out with my contagious sick kid so I can go to work?"?  That's not really fair.  Plus he needs breathing treatments every four hours, I need to monitor his's a handful.  And in interest of full disclosure, I'm not entirely comfortable handing it off to someone else, I  still have a heaping dose of "no one can do it right but me" -itis.

And there's the basic fact that when he's sick, Henry tends to want me.  I get it, when I'm sick, I still sort of want my mom around, and I'm 33 years old.  I'd feel terrible all day if I was at work.  So Ben and I juggle and I try to telework in the afternoon/evening, knowing full well that missing so much time leads to me not being taken seriously at my job.  So you can pretty much feel like you suck at your job, or suck at motherhood, or both, because your kid is trying to snuggle with you while you answer emails and track down footnotes so work doesn't get held up because of you.  Luckily I don't have the "maybe I should stay home" guilt because it's overcome by the "if I don't work we'll be homeless and I'll default on all my student loans" concern.

It's enough to make you want to sit down and cry while you play play-doh with your coughing kid.  Maybe the right thing to do is accept that I'll never get as far career-wise as I'd hoped because I chose to have a kid, and I choose being present in his life over 80 hour work weeks or other job demands.  I'm lucky I found a job that's flexible at all, and hope they keep me around.  Studies have also shown that working moms who have to miss work more than make up for the missed time by busting their asses when they get back, and I have no problem putting hours in-even when I can't clock them and get paid for them.  I take pride in my work and I want it done on time.

We're left with the basic fact that our cultural structure is still not set up for households where both parents work, even though two incomes are a necessity these days.  We're left feeling like we have no options and that no matter what we do, we're shortchanging someone.  This isn't exclusive to moms, but to all parents.  What about a dad who works long hours so one parent can stay home?  Ben did it for the three months I was on maternity leave and I can tell you it was no picnic for either one of us.  He missed bonding time with his son, and I felt like an overworked, unappreciated dairy cow.  (Sorry, when kids are young, that's your main function).

Sorry, the humor is lacking from this one, but I don't think I'm alone here.  On a brighter note, we're progressing with the potty training, and Henry is picking up on language, resulting in him using his potty, then turning to look at his product and saying "Hey, Mom, that's a great big shit!"

He gets it from his father, I swear.