Late last Wednesday, I got the dreaded phone call:
"Hi, Mrs. Thrash? It's Darby at (my son's daycare center)."
Darby's the front desk manager. I like her. But I don't like getting phone calls from her; as you working moms know, it usually means something is not right. It usually means The Grand Plan -- the working-in-an-office-slash-mothering plan -- has unraveled. It means I cannot perform both as employee and as Mom for that moment. "Oh well," I think. Then… "Ooh, I bet I'll get to leave right now!" That usually buoys me up for the bad news of sickness or injury, and I'm willing to admit it.
Two-year-old AJ had a red irritated eye that day, and the daycare does not mess around when it comes to possible pinkeye. They wanted him out of there. I was not convinced it was something contagious, but the next morning he woke up puffy around the lashes like so many Stanley Cup contenders, so I went ahead and called the doc.
To make a long story short, it was NOT pinkeye, and AJ felt perfectly fine all day... but I chose to keep him home. Meaning, we had a day off! An absolutely fine-as-a-fiddle "Sick Day." Those are the best kind, after all -- just ask Ferris Bueller. I had been thinking, just the week before, that I needed to take a "mental health" day and spend some fun time with the kid, for both of our sakes. But I'll admit something else: I'm not very good at releasing myself from my commitments.
Working moms, I think, are so bound by guilt and loyalty that we try to do it all, all the time. I never take a personal day of my own volition, because I don't know when I'll have to take one. With all the germs floating around in day care centers, there's a chance for real pinkeye, or a cold, or a tummy bug, all year long. And since I sometimes work from home, I feel like the office gives me plenty of flexibility on my time. They give me vacation days, which I take for vacation. I can't just LEAVE, any old time I choose with no calendared reason. That would be… selfish? Not up to gold-standard employee-ism? Something.
It was nice that the opportunity -- the possibility of pinkeye -- presented itself. I told my office he was sick and they were none the wiser. Now, I'm not suggesting that we all regularly LIE in order to navigate the work-life balancing act… but sometimes, when the universe hands you a freebie, you have to take a lesson from it.
AJ (and his sty) and I went to lunch at McDonald's -- he DID have to endure a doctor visit, after all, and what better 'treat' than McNuggets and a stint at the PlayPlace? We had an afternoon "book picnic" in the front yard, complete with cold grapes and Make Way For Ducklings, and we played one heck of a lot of hide-n-seek.