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.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Sickness and In Health

It's been a very trying emotional time for some dear friends of mine.  Illness, divorce, financial woes.... it's an ugly list, and my heart feels so heavy as I think of these dear ones.  Then today, when I heard of Elizabeth Edwards' passing, as two dear friends put loved ones in the hospital tonight, I was just overcome.

There was no weeping, but anger.  And oddly, gratitude.

One of my friends is sitting by the bedside of her very ill partner.  She is devoted, and caring, and loyal.  Like my dear friend Annie and her partner Anita, this friend is showing the rest of us how to do it right, and that there are those that think they are less worthy than my husband and I to check the "spouse" box on the hospital form? It makes my blood boil.  I don't get it.

I just. don't. get it.

Because clearly, that legally binding piece of paper you sign after the ceremony and the party you pay for for the first ten years of your marriage (if it lasts that long) doesn't guarantee squat.  Sadly.  I mean that.  When a marriage is dissolved, for whatever reason, the ripple effect it has on the family, on the community that supports that family, causes stress and tension and heartache for anyone who cares about the individuals at the center of it.   Still, it's worth the risk when you love someone.  Because it's about hope and the belief in each other, in our promises to be the kind of people we want to be.  Together.  And that some are denied the right to have a crack at it, as faulty an institution as it is, seems petty and archaic.

And as pissed as I can get about it, there is not anything, outside of voting, that I can do about it.

Except this:  make it worth it.  Be kind to my husband.  Be grateful for him - not just for his humor, intelligence, generosity and kindness, but for his faults as well.  I meant it then, and now that we are getting to an age where it really means something, when we are no longer dewy young things, it means even more.  I do not take his love lightly, I do not take his presence in my life for granted.  

I am grateful.