I’ve been pretty MIA around here lately because we’re recovering from what can only be described as a crappy four weeks. If Dante had written of ten circles of hell, I’m pretty sure the tenth would have involved sick twins.
Mr. Blue & I both work outside the home. We have fairly decent hours compared to other jobs in our profession, but we’re the only people in each of our respective positions. If we’re not able to do our work, it just accumulates until we return. Cue the Baby Dudes getting sick. And by sick, I mean neither the perpetual daycare sniffles not-so-fondly referred to as “baby kennel cough” at our house, nor anything critical or life threatening. I mean just sick enough that they weren’t allowed to be at daycare and they felt miiiiiiiserable.
In the span of 4 weeks, they each were able to attend daycare about 5 days, though some of those days they were sent home early when a fever popped up. We went to the pediatrician multiple times and were told it was a stomach virus and to wait it out, and then that it was another stomach virus and a cold and to wait it out, and then that there was an ear infection, and then that it was a cold but they wanted to do lab work, and then that one had c diff, and then that they had another virus, and then that they had respiratory infections aggravated by allergies for which we needed to add two medicines and some breathing treatments. Good times were had by all….said no one. Our little guys were just not feeling good, and they perpetually had one thing or the other that was a violation of our daycare’s sick policy.
Typically, one of us will take a day off to watch the boys and then the other one will the next day. We look at our schedules to figure out who has obligations that can’t be put off and then decide who will stay home which day, if needed. This round of sickness just kept going though, and we were quickly burning through our leave time, plus work was piling up. In the past when we can’t take off and need back-up childcare, a family friend that is our go-to local babysitter will watch them or my mom has driven down (4 hours away) to stay with us a day or two. The problem with this four week stretch was that our normal babysitter had an injured back and my mom had other important obligations, like taking care of my 93-year old grandma. This meant we were on our own and had no other back-up daycare set up.
Our bosses were very understanding and generous, but we both were feeling extremely stressed out about all the missed work and about our babies not being able to get healthy. At one point, my boss asked if twins typically have compromised immune systems. He was just genuinely curious, but it made me feel awful that I had missed so much work he even thought to ask that. Eventually, we hobbled through the month, each of us taking off about 9 full days of work in a four-week stretch.
While having illness after illness that keeps the boys out of daycare for a extraordinarily long stretch isn’t typical thankfully, it illustrated one of the things I find most challenging about being a dual WOH family. Sometimes everyone needs us and we have to figure out how to balance our work load, our boys’ needs, and each others’ needs as well. I’m often humbled by the reminder that I just can’t be everything to everyone even when that is exactly what seems necessary. Sometimes something just has to give, and I just have to suck it up and come to terms with not performing at the level I generally would expect of myself.
Did my work suffer in that four-week stretch? Yep, sure did. Does that make me feel bad? Yep, sure does, but the Baby Dudes needed me and my work quantity and quality is the thing that had to give this time.
At the end of the day, all parents—working outside the home or not—are faced with circumstances where we have to make choices about what needs we’re going to meet in what order and what needs are going to have to be put on hold. It’s not always a feel good decision with a happy ending and a bow on top, but it is reality. We do the things we have to do and then work hard to make up the difference in the other areas when we are able to do so again.
What do you find most challenging about your working/staying home status and parenting?