Friday, October 11, 2013

Working Mom Sick Day Blues

The stomach virus has struck our family. This means a lot of things. It means Jane isn't happy, even though she's the carrier monkey who brought this disease upon us. It means we eat repeat meals of baked potatoes. It means Mabel sensed the influx of bananas from the grocery store, and decided God preordained her to eat every last one of them or die trying. It means I end up washing the same load of polluted clothes five times in a row while sitting in the corner, rocking back and forth whispering, "We're gonna need a bigger boat. Full of disinfectant."

If I could describe my husband in one word, it would be unflappable. He's unflappable in the face of toddler sickness. He's unflappable when Mabel licks her feet and creates giant yellow saliva rings on his side of the bedspread. I mean, he's a saint because that's usually the point at which I threaten to send her to the Old Dog Farm (where they make glue and soup). And he's unflappable when I flip out, like this week, and run around screaming, "IT'S ON MY HANDS! IT'S ON MY HANDS! IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT'S GOOD AND HOLY IT'S ON MY HANDS!" God bless that man. He's surrounded by difficult females.

Things have evened out and I realize that while I stress out about stomach viruses, and missing work, and Mabel's incessant schnauzer nose-poking onto the back of my leg (her way of communicating she wants food, preferably bananas, now), it's kind of nice to be at home on a week day.

Don't get me wrong. On Wednesday I spent the entire day at home with Jane, and by noon I'd already fired off a text to Matt that said, "Tomorrow it's your turn dude." But still. The late afternoon sun streamed through the front windows, a fall breeze blew through the screen at the back door, and somehow I decided listening to the mice on Cinderella sing was kind of pleasant.

Being a working mom and dealing with a sick kid (not to mention my own migraine issues) is an ongoing challenge. It requires Matt and I take turns staying at home, juggling sick and vacation time, and all the regular struggles of Tylenol doses and quilt wrapped cuddles. We didn't take a vacation this year, or last, because of it. We have to work as a team. We have to all be kinder to each other and move a little slower.

But as I sat at my living room desk this week, and Jane congratulated herself by completing a puzzle ("Good job Jane," she muttered and clapped for herself), I was happy. I was happy that I'm able to be her mom. I'm happy to skip vacations and juggle work loads. Fine, happy is probably too strong a word to describe a vacation-less year. But I'm happy to do it for her. I'm happy that Matt is an equal caregiver and we're on the same team, rowing in the same direction. I'm happy that he talks me off the ledge when I change a dirty diaper and then threaten to soak my hands in Clorox.

Someday I'll get to take an actual vacation. I won't need most of my vacation and sick days for migraines and stomach bugs and sore throats. But when that day comes, I'll miss this just a little bit. I'll miss staying home with Jane when she has a bug.

Me writing.

Jane wearing a tutu.

Mabel sulking in the den and dreaming of bananas.