Working-parent winter woes

It’s been snowing pretty heavily for the last few days here in West Michigan and every morning my kids wake up praying to the gods of winter for a snow day. And every morning Dave and I wake up praying for the exact opposite. So far, our luck has held – maybe we’re praying in a higher weight class! But as a two working parent family, snow days are just one of the many things in our life that seems to observe Murphy’s Law.

When the school has a snow day because the heavens took a dump on us, we still have to drag our sorry carcasses through blizzard and white out conditions, in temperatures approaching absolute zero when all Brownian motion has ceased, to work.  So there’s a mad scramble to find someone to stay home with the kids – kids who have treated snow day as their own personal pleasure day of fun and frolic. The same kids who refuse to go out unless the weather conditions are completely optimal, are suddenly making snow angels and snowmen and having a blast.

Another wonderful little winter whimsy is that our kids get sick with germs that have gone around the school a couple of times and are uber-strong and able to level small cities with their virulence! Oh the joy of staying home with an projectile vomiting, phlegm-alicious, little petri dish of a sick child. Then trying to comfort poor sad child without catching the bubonic plague.  I’ve found myself wearing what basically amounts to a hazmat suit consisting of Saran wrap, rubber gloves, and a rain poncho!

I have to admit that we are quite lucky because we both work close to home and my schedule is pretty flexible – except when I have classes and then it’s not flexible at all – because apparently classroom presence is a crucial component of this whole professor-ing gig. So, when one of the kids gets sick, we have to do this high wire trapeze act whereby we are juggling a sick kid between the two of us with dizzying levels of precision.

The following is an actual conversation that Dave had a few years ago with his HR manager:

Dave: I have to take some time off today because my kid is not well and I have to stay home with him.
HR manager: why doesn’t your wife take him?
Dave: my wife teaches from 12-3 today and then again from 4-6 so we are tag teaming it.
HR manager: why don’t you send him to daycare
Dave: he does go to day care but he’s sick
HR manager: well, why don’t you find a daycare that takes sick kids

Because, you complete bloody idiot, would you want to send your kids to a day care that took sick kids?!! This is how our society becomes one where the Hunger Games are a distinct possibility! This is also the point at which I really appreciate how difficult it is for single parent families – hats off to all of you – you don’t get enough praise and kudos and for that I am sorry.

My kids however are troopers and do understand that mom and dad will not be able to make it to every school activity  or be able to volunteer very often in their classrooms, thank god, rats. They’ve also accepted that nothing is going to be handmade – I mean nothing – not Halloween costumes, Christmas decorations, Easter eggs – NOTHING!

When she was younger, Maya did once ask why I didn’t come to school as much as so-and-so’s mother and I used to tell her that it was because “Mommy has to work” – but now I just tell them the truth – I don’t have to work, I want to work – that’s an important distinction. My parents sacrificed a lot to put me through college and give me a good education. Then I spent what felt like a billion years in school to add to that education during which Dave was my sugar daddy – he’s looking for a return on his investment! So while I do feel bad that I miss out on a lot of stuff with my kids, it makes the time I get to spend with them very precious.

Also, if I stayed home with my kids the headline in the paper right under my mug shot would read “Mother of two claims that the reason she left her kids home alone and went to the library for a couple of hours of effing peace and quiet, god*&%mit-to-hell-and-back, was because of their excessive whining – for the love of all that is good and holy!

Yes – it’s may be a tad long but I stand by that headline.


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