21 May 2010

Gosh. I Feel Like a Woman. [snerk]

A wasn't feeling herself last night. We could see that. M told me that she put his hand on her belly while he was reading her good-night stories last night and whispered, "Hold, Daddy." She was tired and warm, two signs of pending illness for sure.

She wasn't up to par this morning either, but when I took her temperature, it was normal. So, we got on with our day. I did let her teachers know that she wasn't altogether well, but with no fever, I couldn't justify taking the day off (especially since I have next to no paid time off to take and a buffet platter of work and meetings and training that's overflowing) and, I thought, M's job won't let him go if I'm around.

And there's the rub. Mechanics, you see, are men. Men don't do women's work. At least, that's the prevailing sentiment that I see over and over again. When M told the last Service Manager they had that he was leaving to stay home with his infant daughter full-time, the man actually accused him of lying to cover up the fact that he must be going to another dealership. And when I was in the field, they were unhappy with him for leaving early by 15 minutes each day to make sure he could get to A before the center closed. Never mind that they knew this would be when they hired him...

In fact, the HR woman at one dealership he interviewed at actually reacted with a, "What do you mean, your wife may deploy? I don't know if we can
 work with that..." when he told her that the hours would have to be a little flexible. Needless to say, he didn't end up working there.

So, although the number of stay-at-home-dads and "breadwinner" mothers are on the rise, why are so many blue collar professions still so unwilling to see that maybe there are men out there who not only want to, but can afford (career-wise) to take more time off to tend to sick kids than their wives?

On the other hand, maybe real root cause of so many parental woes when it comes to figuring out who has to leave work to pick up and tend the sick child could be saved if childcare centers weren't so quick to send kids home unnecessarily? Granted, this study took place in Wisconsin (where we don't live), but anecdotal evidence certainly shows that most daycare centers, no matter what the state, have similar trends. In fact, A's center recently made us get a HEP A vaccine for her because the APA recommends the vaccine between 12 and 23 months of age which means that the Air Force mandates it, even though her pediatrician doesn't normally administer until around age 4. Yet, for all of the causes cited in the abstract that the APA recommends against sending children home, the center will give you one hour to come and get your child.

I wish I knew of a center like Huggs and Kisses in Alabama - a center specifically designed to provide care to mildly ill children so that parents don't have to take time they may not have - around me here. Then again, I also wish that my employer saw fit to understand the need for emergency child care. But, since they only give employees one sick day a year and are now mandating that you take FMLA time for any sick period that extends to 3 days or longer, I'd definitely be better off sh...er...spitting in the one hand rather than wishing in the other.

Yet, as I type, A is eating mangoes and drinking water from my water bottle, watching Curious George and giggling. She doesn't have a low-grade temperature at all at this point, and I suspect that she would have been fine with a nap at the center.

Instead, I canceled my meetings and the training for managers I was supposed to conduct, had a brief hotwash with my boss with respect to the mass round of layoffs hitting our unit today and next week...and went and got her.

M's reaction? "Next time, f**k 'em. I'll just tell them you have actual real stuff to do and they can suck it. I stayed home with her for two years. I should be the one getting her on short notice like this."

I don't think of it quite like that. Taking turns isn't unreasonable though. I also reminded him that his job is equally as important as mine. The difference is that it's harder to re-schedule meetings with colonels and generals than it is to pass off a car to someone else to finish - if there's even one in the works. Neither job is better or worse, more or less important. Just easier or more difficult to re-arrange time on.

But, my boss understands. I only wish that M's bosses did too.


Anonymous said...

When I was a kid 30 years ago, my dad was the one who took off work if someone got sick or hurt. It just made more sense on balance. But, that didn't stop the schools from ALWAYS calling my mom for everything. When she would ask why they didn't call my dad despite explicit instructions to call him first, they would gasp and sputter. I would hope things have gotten a little better since then . . . .


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