Let’s say – just hypothetically – that you just started a new job.
You’re adjusting to new routines; trying to learn new computer systems, new faces, and new policies; and trying to remember your new security codes and to stop pressing 8 before dialing out like you had to do at your previous job.
You’re also working at a school and preparing to welcome back returning students and orient new ones, so even if you weren’t new, it would be a busy time.
It’s stress, but it’s good stress, fun and exhilarating stress.
But then let’s say your kid starts complaining that her throat hurts. You tell her, fully believing it, for a full day that it’s just allergies and that she’s fine. Then later you tell her, praying you’re right but knowing at this point that it’s really probably actually something more serious, that it’s just allergies and that she’s fine. You give her a dose of Benadryl and hope she wakes up feeling better in the morning because you have a mandatory eight-hour work training the next day and you’ve already paid for a week of camp, dammit!
She wakes you up at 2 a.m. saying she can’t swallow. You touch her face, half-asleep, and realize she’s burning up. You come fully awake, fumble for the thermometer, see that it says 101.2. You get her some water, murmur comforting words, peer at her throat with a flashlight, and make your amateur but fairly confident diagnosis of strep.
She falls back into a restless sleep while you stay awake and worry about her – and then realize with an unpleasant start that your old work insurance expired on July 31 and the new plan started Aug. 1 but you don’t have your insurance cards or proof of insurance yet. And your husband works from home so hopefully he can stay home with her but you don’t really know what his schedule is for sure and should you wake him up to ask and make sure he can watch her or let him sleep, knowing the next day’s child care is almost certainly going to fall on him. You let him sleep.
She wakes back up at 4 a.m. and throws up, cementing the strep diagnosis. By the time you get her calmed down and cleaned up and start the laundry and Lysol/bleach all the surfaces, it’s almost 5.
You have to get up at 6 anyway, so you decide to just stay up and have a few recreational panic attacks before starting in on the first of five cups of coffee you’ll drink today.
And yes, it’s 2018, and yes, men are wonderful parents (especially your husband), but still there is something that feels wrong, as a mother, about leaving your sick child to go to work even though you’re leaving her in the loving care of her other parent. You feel guilty and also mad about feeling guilty because why should you? But you definitely do.
After a full day of work, filled with texts back and forth with your husband about insurance and doctor’s appointments and symptoms and the drama of the throat swab followed by the actual confirmation of strep (which makes you feel vindicated in your mom instincts), you head home and pick up your daughter’s amoxicillin prescription on the way, paying full price because it’s only $26 and you have been up since 2 a.m. and want to get home to your sick kid and just don’t have it in you to fight with anyone about insurance right now.
By now, of course, it’s obvious that “you” is me and that none of this is hypothetical and that I am very tired right now.
Also, I had to cancel plans I’d been looking forward to all week with a beloved friend because her son is immunocompromised and I obviously can’t expose him to Georgia’s bacteria, so it’s going to be a very chill weekend of napping, at least until the antibiotics kick in.
So what I’m saying, folks, is that I need Netflix/Amazon recommendations. I like documentaries, comedies, and "Unsolved Mysteries" with Robert Stack.
Hit me with your best suggestions in the comments below.