Wednesday, May 10, 2006

You can't have it all, can you?

Not a whole lot of knitting, and no pictures to be had. Actually, lots of whining ahead. If this bothers you, feel free to stop reading.
So, last week my son was "sick". When I say "sick", I mean he had a non-contagious rash that took a solid week to go away. Not contagious, but he couldn't go to daycare anyway. I emailed and asked my boss if it would be alright to work from home, which I am perfectly set up to do. The answer was a resounding, "Not only no, but HELL NO." It took me two days to get over the resentment and worry about my job. Here I was at home with my mildly-ill, but still happy-as-a-clam son for five days straight, and I was stressed about work. About missing deadlines, about having to work overtime later, about using up all my PTO, and finally about losing my job, which WILL happen, and sooner rather than later. I can tell that my boss's fuse is running awfully short with my son's inability to avoid germs. By Friday I was feeling good about the fact that I got to spend another day alone with him - such luxury - and then Monday I was rested and ready to get back to work, in spite of the knowledge that I had burned ALL my vacation time to sit at home.
Tuesday afternoon, I get the call - he has a fever.
Say it with me, people:
Papa picked him up from daycare, gave him tylenol, and put him down for a nap. He woke up two hours later, fever free. HOORAY! Except daycare won't take him back until he's been fever-free for 24 hours. So I had to spend the rest of my afternoon trying like crazy to find someone to take care of my baby at home. The only nanny service I could find is going to cost me $150 for ONE DAY. And now that I'm here at work, I'm worried about not being at home.
So, I have a baby I love, and a job I hate. Should be an easy choice, right?
But I'm just not ablewilling to give up the things that my paycheck allows me. I don't want to give up health insurance, or vacations, or Netflix, or yarn, or coffee on SnB night, or trips to Montana for Bug to see his grandparents. I know my husband isn't willing to work his butt off to barely scrape by. He might be okay with it for a little while, but after a short time of having no money to go boating or camping with, he'd be pushing me to get another job. I could get another job. There are currently almost no jobs in my field anywhere nearby, and none at all that are part time. I could take a job for less pay, but I'd still have to work 40 hours or more to survive on a lesser hourly wage.
Why is this so hard? Why is it so difficult for corporations to support families, and for career-oriented, family-not-oriented women to cut us "breeders" some slack? I can get my work done at home, even if I was there full time. I can give you a big stack that I've finished by the end of the day. I actually get more done at home than at the office, because I tend to work during the time I'd be getting office-ready and driving and having lunch, too.
(The thing that really cheeses me off once a year is the travel-survey we have to do, so the company gets a thumbs-up from the county about doing our part to reduce greenhouse gasses and pollution. Telecommuting is always a choice, but very few in our company qualify. I feel like they're rubbing it in my face that I have to be in this heinous office instead of my comfy home.)
I know this is something that nearly every parent deals with. I KNOW that. Really I do. Which makes it all the more incomprehensible. What are we going to do about it? Somebody has got to make a change somewhere, and you know it's not going to come from the upper echelons of government and big business. What can WE do, here, down here in the grass, to make this more tolerable and support our families better? Somebody help me, cuz I'm not able to figure it out on my own.


ciderapple said...

I came across your blog via just meandering through the names. I just wanted to say......I think your boss needs educating!!!!!! Having you work from home sometimes is soooooooooo cost effective for him....your power, heat etc. I guess he either has...a super wife, one who stays home with the kids cos he earns so much, isn't married and/or doesnt have any kids!!!! good luck..A.

Anonymous said...

Hullo! I found your blog via Franklin's comments...did you get my email yesterday re: the dyeable yarn?

All I have to say about the work/home conundrum is that you're not alone. Not that that helps. We can cover it at next week's S'nB.


pacalaga said...

Ciderapple, my boss is a she. I have no idea what kind of wife she has, but I know they don't have kids.

Daphne said...

Hello, I came over from the Yarn Harlot and in a way, I want to thank you for this post. I'm lucky to work in a place where if I had to, I could bring in a kid with a non-contagious rash, and you reminded me of how lucky I am and how our economy and culture are still very sexist and just screwed up. I know your boss is a woman--but that doesn't really matter. The system is set up and reinforces discriminatory behavior. Anyway, I wonder if there's any way for you to fight this in your company or even at the political level?

Also: Yeah, most of the things you listed as not willing to give up are choices, but health insurance is not really a choice.

I'm glad you got to enjoy some time with your son and I wish you luck in either this job or finding one that works better for all of you.