I'm at home with a sick little boy.
I kept Dallas home from school Monday. He was really tired and whiny in the morning with a slight fever, and I didn't figure he would end up being any good in a classroom. He also wasn't interested in eating, and that rarely happens. He stayed with me, and we did a lot of snuggling. All day, he just wanted to be held. He slept a little over 13 hours Monday night, and I thought that might be the end of whatever crud had started. Silly me.
Tuesday morning, he seemed much better. His eyes weren't glassy, he wasn't as feverish, and his mood was overall improved. I took him to school, and everything seemed okay when I dropped him off. Fast forward to 10:30 when my phone rang. One of his teachers called to say that he was having a hard morning. He was not himself at all: sad, whiny, and unable to pull it all together. She said he was calm at that moment, but she would keep me updated on his progress. I got my shoes on, found my keys and my purse, and in less than 5 minutes, his teacher called again to say that maybe it was time for me to come get him. I arrived a few minutes later with worry starting to build in my chest. As soon as I saw his face, I knew something was wrong. He was sobbing, and he flung himself right into my waiting arms. He buried his hot head in my shoulder and whispered, "I didn't know where you were." Ouch. He apparently told his teachers in the midst of his breakdown that he needed his mommy.
He needed me. He didn't just want to see me for a moment of comfort; he needed me. And it hit me at that moment that this is why I do what I do. I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I do it because my kids need me. My little boy was sick, and he needed his mommy. When I took him to the doctor after I picked him up from school, it was confirmed that he has croup. He rarely complains about not feeling well, so I had no idea that he was that sick. I must have missed the signs during the morning rush to get bags packed, shoes on, and sweatshirts zipped. It's no wonder that he was so sad, and it broke my heart to think that he felt abandoned at school Tuesday morning.
The steroid shot worked its magic overnight. Dallas isn't completely back to normal, but he has had a big turnaround from Monday. His voice is still hoarse and scratchy; it's sort of like living with a mini-Vito Corleone. But instead of calling for Luca Brasi to sleep with the fishes, he's calling for another granola bar or a hug. He is laughing again, smiling again, and even arguing with me again. He's working his way back.
Don't get me wrong: there are definitely days that I wish I were the one going to work and leaving the clean-up, the snacks, the fights, and the tedium all behind. But I can't. It's not in my nature to be away from the ones I love more than I have to be. I know myself, and I couldn't be a good mom AND a good teacher. Someone would always be getting my best while someone else would only get the leftovers. My decision to stay at home is what works best for our family, and it may not work as well for other parents, other families. It's definitely not a judgement or condemnation of parents who have to work or choose to work. I admire the fact that those parents manage a career and a family. But I'm beyond grateful that I was able to be there to wipe away Dallas's tears, hold his hand to reassure him during the steroid shot, and feel his ragged breath as he lay on the couch with me. I stroked his soft hair and whispered, "Everything's okay now. Mommy's here." Because that's my job: I'm the Mommy.
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