Bonus Day

Last night P. Bibby had a bit of a stuffy nose and was acting tired and whiny. The tired and whiny bit didn't surprise me because we had a busy weekend doing fun things together (on Saturday we took family pictures in the morning and then spent some time at a Day of the Dead celebration). This morning, however, when I woke her up to get ready for school she was definitely running a fever. It wasn't a high fever, but definitely enough to keep her home from school and childcare. Mr. Fob is often the parent who takes care of sick kids because he has a flexible schedule and works remotely--it's not hard for him to keep an eye on a kid and still get work done. Most of my sick leave during the last few years has been spent on myself. Unfortunately Mr. Fob is traveling for work this week, so I had to take the day off. 

Taking the day off, especially if I didn't plan on it in advance, is always hard for me. The work I do is certainly not life-or-death in its importance, and at least it's not like teaching where a missed day can really mess things up. But, in my current position, I'm the only one who does my particular job, and while my colleagues know how to fulfill some of my responsibilities, they don't or can't do everything I do. That also wouldn't be a problem except that my position is really interconnected with a number of other people, so there are certain things that I need to do in order for them to be able to do their jobs. Plus I supervise three student employees who need some oversight and guidance (and one of them just started last week so she hasn't had much training yet). Despite all this, there really wasn't much I could do this morning besides let people know that I wasn't coming to work. After accepting the reality of the situation, I decided to enjoy my day. I don't get many days off, and at least this time I wasn't sick and the kid I was taking care of wasn't throwing up.

P. Bibby felt a lot better after some medicine to bring down her fever, so she spent most of the day watching shows, coloring, playing games on her iPod, and cutting out some very interesting paper snowflakes to stick on the front window. I got some homework done, washed bedding and towels, cleaned out a few closets and cupboards, dusted, vacuumed, did some mending I've been putting off for too long, and enjoyed having a day to just be at home and get things done. Most days I'm gone for nearly nine hours total, and the rest of that time is mostly spent getting ready for work and school, eating dinner and getting ready for bed, and doing homework. I love my job and am really grateful for it, but if I'm honest I still hate working full-time, all the time. 

The thing is, working full-time has real value and there are good reasons why I'm doing it, even though my kids are young and I do receive regular child support. When I got divorced, I thought long and hard about how I wanted to support myself and the kids. The problem is that working part-time does not just mean a lower income. It also means that I have no paid sick or vacation time, so if I ever need or want to miss work, my income goes down even more. Plus I would have no medical benefits, and after spending years dealing with trying to get healthcare without coverage or with poor quality coverage, I really don't want to do that anymore. Living without good health insurance is just another way to reduce your income even more. More than anything, I worried about the future. Sure, I can scrape by for a few years on part-time pay. But I wouldn't be saving for retirement, saving for short-term emergencies, or paying off my mortgage very quickly. Full-time work means more time away from the kids and more money spent on childcare, but it also means financial stability for all of us, both now and in the future. It's a trade-off I'm willing to make, even if I have to frequently remind myself of why I'm doing it. I'm also incredibly grateful for the education and experiences I have had that qualified me for the type of job I have now. If I have to work full-time, at least it's at a place with a decent salary, good benefits, and a great work environment. And, the bottom line is that I prayed about my work decisions and got strong promptings that this choice was the right one for me. Sometimes I wish I had more days like today where I could spend the day taking care of my home and children, but for now I will just have to enjoy them when they do happen.

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