My son and I spent the weekend in Ocean City, MD with my dad and his fiancée. It was a nice visit, however, I came home to my son getting sick. His eyes were blood shot with a 102° fever. I quickly got Motrin in him and laid him in front of a fan.
After a couple hours later into the night, his fever broke. Suddenly, he seemed like he was fine. So, then I’m racing these assumptions in my head on whether he’s still sick or whether it was just some fluke thing that I might take off work for no reason for. Maybe it was a quick virus or just a combination of sun and being active. Then, morning came and his voice was groggy and he was moping around. Definitely not acting like himself.
Luckily not having to go into work until 10:30am gave me a chance to text my co-workers. I scrambled to find coverage for my job. I began to experience anxiety from not wanting to tick off co-workers nor tick off the general manager. Then, there’s ticking off family members by asking to watch him just in case I couldn’t find coverage and then not upsetting your sick child.
Luckily, I was able to find coverage for my shift that day. So, I took my son to the doctor that discovered that he had gotten hand, foot, mouth disease, also known as hoof and mouth. It is generally a virus that effects children under 5, however my son got it at age 8..go figure. I asked for a solution from this doctor. Her response, “You just have to wait it out which can take about 3-7 days. There’s no antibiotics or anything for it. He is highly contagious. Once, he starts feeling better then he most likely won’t be contagious anymore”.
3 – 7 days…Days of sudden missed work that I can’t afford nor can my work afford to not have me there. Having to be at home and knowing I just screwed work gave me so much anxiety. Okay, I’m totally getting fired! This week off won’t include that I previously requested to have 4 days off the following week for when my mom visits. I can feel the agitation in the text messages. People not wanting to switch to cover my shifts, because they’re not the money-making shifts. The evils of the restaurant industry – every person for themselves.
This is the constant issue of being a single mom – everything falls on you! I can’t turn to my partner and ask him to take off work instead to balance pleasing our jobs. I can’t rely on a second income to back up my time lost. I can’t ask someone to go to store to pick up more Motrin and Gatorade, instead I have to drag my sick son out to do it myself. With my son being 8 years old, I am truly accustomed to things being this way. It’s only when things are hard that I think, “It sure would be nice”.
I have spoken to other mothers, whether they are married or not, and basically – we all struggle. The children want the mother the most when sick. The father makes the most money, so it doesn’t make sense for them to take off work in the possibilities of jeopardizing their position. No offense to fathers, but there is a lot of them that cringe in the thought of caring for a sick child by themselves. Then, there are fathers like my father and my blogging partner, i Glenn that care for their child willingly, and have the same single parent struggles as myself.
I honestly wish I could take off for 3 – 7 days and focus solely on caring for my son without the guilt of doing so. He needs me, I am who he wants when he feels bad. He wants movie time, snuggles with his mommy and to be my primary. I much rather have the anxieties of whether my son needs more Motrin or Tylenol versus being at work with a worried mind about how my son is progressing from his sickness in the hands of his grandparents. As much as I hate him being sick, this gives us time to bond. We still laugh & we still enjoy our time together, all while I feel his clammy head, give him forehead kisses and hold his little fragile body in my naturally motherly arms. It feels good to do what my life is made to do, and that’s to care for my son. I just know that I can make it better for him. He is my primary job.
“My occupation is my job,
My child is my career”
In conclusion, a job can be replaced, but a child can not. My son will always come first over work and anything else. Luckily, I do have a job that is so understanding and forgiving. They managed to figure out a way to make it work while I was out, because the love for my son is so undeniable that even they know that he is first over them. They acknowledge my passions and know where I stand in balancing both in my life. I always return to work with double the passion, devotion and work to pull my weight. Coming back into work with the right mindset gives them no reason to doubt my position and prepares for the next sick day.