Saturday, December 5, 2015
"I've got to go -- my daughter is throwing up!"
I ended the call, pulled out my headset ear buds and moved swiftly to where Bryce was getting sick.
"C'mon, Sweetie. Let's get you into the bathroom."
"Daddy, I don't feel good."
"I know, Sweetie."
I got her cleaned up and had her drink some water. Fortunately she hadn't eaten anything yet so all that came up was water and bile (and a little bit of green candy from the night before -- yummy). She was pale and weak and burning up, but the ear thermometer only gave me a normal reading. This thing must not work, I thought. I moved her to the recliner with a fresh set of blankets and a big bowl and then cleaned up the couch. I threw her blankets and her little stuffed bunny (a vomit casualty) into the washer.
There, we should be good now.
"How do you feel, Sweetie?"
"I know. Here, drink some water and rest."
Soon after she drifted off to restless, sweaty sleep. Poor baby. While she can be a handful, she's like a wild animal hit with multiple tranquilizer darts when she's sick. I moved back to the dining room table to work. From home. Cell phone, laptop and Internet connectivity wherever I go. My garage office (converted office slash guest room completed years ago) -- also known as the offage (pronounced oh-fahge, a name bestowed on me recently by our web developer) -- is my usual work-from-home stomping ground, but on this day with Bryce sick and staying home from school and the Mama having to go to see her physical therapy patients after taking Beatrice to school and with no other child care available --
It's on me. Because I can do it. Because I work from home. Because when I'm not traveling for work, I'm here. Because I love my family and my life and embrace all that it brings. My children and the Mama are priority number 1. From seemingly banal everyday issues to the urgent. There are no exceptions. Ever. If you're a Walking Dead fan, I'm a Rick channeler.
But it's also not just the part of the story where I lean in like Sheryl Sandberg's book and the Lean In organization encourages, the blending of traditional roles and responsibilities at work and in life based on what needs to be done regardless of gender -- it's the part where I'm lunging in. Literally.
That's not always easy to acclimate to and accept readily either. Family life is disruptive even on its best days. Especially when we've both got work to do and our own schedules. Now that the Mama is working more again, I've been scaling more with the childcare. We do have baby sitters, which is great, but there's a limit to that coverage. We did have family help for a while, but when that went to hell, we had to reconfigure the big picture.
While I'm not comparing our situation with other parts of the socio-economic strata, the more I scale with the childcare, the more I do empathize completely with single parents who have to work away from home and deal with paying for childcare or having to miss work, especially when they're on the clock, when their child is sick (my own mom was one for a while when my sister and I were young).
Most single parents are still women (see the last U.S. census). And according to the U.S. Department of Labor, more men are working full-time than women, and more women are working part-time than men, and upcoming Talent Board research (where I work) shows that even more women than men are applying for more core work across the board -- from hourly wage positions to entry level and experienced salaried positions -- 82 percent to 69 percent.
So yes, I do empathize and am grateful for the intact and loving family unit we have and our ability to adapt easily.
The second conference call of the morning commenced and this time I was using the computer audio with the headset instead of my cell phone. The call neared its end and this time I didn't turn around -- that's when I heard Bryce throwing up again.
Now, I could've just gotten off the call abruptly like I did the first time, but it was a program sponsor on the other end and she was in the middle of explaining something important to me. Instead I picked up the MacBook Air with my left hand, moved quickly to the chair where poor Bryce retched this time, lunged into the chair and leaned in, picking up the bowl with my right hand and shoving it calmly under her chin.
The sponsor kept talking but I had lost track of what she was saying, so I gave up.
"Um, so sorry, but my daughter is throwing up and I have to go."
After another clean up was completed, I moved Bryce back to the now clean but damp couch where she again drifted off to sleep. She was burning up but the thermometer still wasn't working right and read a normal temp. I called the Mama and asked if we had another thermometer, which we did, but it was the one she used for her physical therapy visits and she had that one with her in her work bag.
Thankfully she returned shortly after that call and got Bryce to take some medicine to bring her temp down. And yes, she did have a 101 degree temperature. Ack. Now that Bryce was back in the healing hands of the Mama, that's when I was back to business rounding out an otherwise productive Friday.
Later that night Beatrice went with me on our weekly taqueria run, and I asked her if she wanted Mommy or Daddy to walk with her and her school in the downtown Christmas parade. Since Bryce was sick, we wouldn't all be going together this time.
"I want you to go, Daddy."
"Okay," I said. I had walked with her last year while the Mama and Bryce cheered us along the route (Bryce didn't want to walk the entire parade route).
"But," Beatrice continued, "I think I'll ask Mommy this year since you and me were in the parade last year. Okay Daddy?"
"Sounds like a plan, Bea."
"Bryce needs to get better anyway and you can help her like you did today, right?"
Yep, that's why my Bea received an empathy award at school. Right on, Sweetie.
Here's to the lunging in, Daddies.