Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's Not Sophie's Choice, but...

... it still sucks.

When I was Joe-Henry's age, I contracted Scarlet Fever.  I was horribly sick for nearly three weeks.  Because my mom had passed away two years before, there was no one to stay home and take care of me.  My dad had just gotten a new job after the plant he worked for selling meat was closed so that the Army Corp of Engineers could change the shape of the Snake River,  forcing businesses and homes to move to higher ground.  Or close.  It was during a terrible economic crisis (remember the early 70's?!), and he needed to keep his job, so he couldn't stay home with a sick kid.  A neighbor brought me lunch everyday, but didn't stay long because she had two kids of her own, and didn't want to catch it.  I don't remember the worst of it, just the last week - the loneliness, the jigsaw puzzle I finally finished and really, really missing my mom.

But I did it.  I managed to get through it.  I was a tough kid.

This year, due to the horrible economy and District Wide Budget Cuts, they have decided that when a parapro like myself gets sick (or their child gets sick), unless there are two other parapro's out, we cannot call for a sub.

I get that the District needs to save money.  And I get that this is a move that is saving jobs.  I do.  It's still a horrible idea though.  The kids I work with have some pretty significant behaviors (hitting, kicking, etc.), and in a room that can, on a normal day, seem like there isn't enough staff to go around, having a person out is, to put it mildly, stressful.

Yesterday, JH had a procedure done on his big toe.  He'd had an infected ingrown nail since JUNE.  We have been trying everything to get it healed, including two round of antibiotics, and it didn't work.  So yesterday we had an appointment, and I thought it was just a first visit, that they'd decide what to do and we'd go back if anything needed to be done.  But that's not how it went down.  They gave him four horribly painful shots to numb the toe, then took out both sides of the nail.  He did amazing.  He cried when he got the shots, but tried soooo hard to be tough.  After the procedure he did great.

Until the numb wore off, and then last night, he cried for three hours.  I gave him tylenol at first, then ibuprofen, and he finally went to sleep around eleven.  This morning, he woke up sick to his stomach.
So I called in sick, but I'm going in later, now that we're getting the stomach upset under control.  But I'm feeling stressed and guilty and horrible and ANGRY for having to choose.

A voice in my head told me to calm down.  I'd been through this as a kid.  I didn't have a mom to get me through  it - he'll be fine.  It's just an afternoon.

Here's the thing though.  He DOES have a mom.  And he will remember that I made this choice.

EDIT 12/14/10, 1:00:

I went to school for about an hour and a half.  Then, there was a severe weather warning, that quickly turned into a TORNADO WARNING.  This was not anywhere on the list of things I would need to worry about if I left him home alone.  Needless to say, I came home right away.  The weather fizzled, and I felt silly for coming home, for about a minute.  Then I realized I did the right thing, forgave myself and ate a bite of chocolate.  All is right with the world.


Kirsten said...

He may feel slighted that you went in for the afternoon and left him. Or he may feel a little joy that you're leaving him home alone. Either way, hopefully he will look back and realize that you made the decision because there are others that *needed* you more than he did and you cared enough to sacrifice. I admire what you do. You are an excellent mother. JH knows that.

karigee said...

Oh, my dear sweet friend. You probably won't want to hear this and maybe it won't help and what do I know anyway, but you should give yourself a break. There's no perfect choice and no perfect solution, you do the best you can. Your son knows where your heart is at all times.

Kirsten said...

Oh, and when I was in 5th grade, my mom had been back to work for just over a year. I missed her being at home when I got home after school. I spent a lot of time in the nurse's office with a stomachache because I was hopeful she'd come and pick me up and take me home so we could be together. She did most of the time, but one day she couldn't get away from work and I literally spent hours in the nurse's office. In looking back, I know it was the transition of her going back to work, but I didn't realize it at the time. But I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent together as a family outside of work/school hours.

anniemcq said...

Thanks friends. Coming back to blogging after a hiatus has let me forget that I should never write in the MIDDLE of a crisis. I do know it will be okay. It's just that moment of decision is so torturous. And I hate having to decide between my kid and my "other kids". And Kristen, the thought of you in that office for hours as a girl makes me want to give you a hug.

Robin Amos Kahn said...

Oh, Annie, what a moving post. I'm so glad I decided to look on your blog.

I'm glad that Joe-Henry is better. What can I say, we all struggle a day at a time to be good parents. I wish we all lived closer and could really share lives - not just on-line.