Jack had strep.
And I sent him to school.
In my defense, I did not know he had strep throat. He didn’t have a fever, and he didn’t balk at the notion of going to school. Had either of those two features been present, I would have kept him home… or made some kind of a plan to have him stay with a relative for the day.
I had a very full schedule ahead of me, and I was more focused on that than on Jack’s symptoms– I will admit that. I had been out of the office for several days the week prior because of my “accident“. So, I had this back log of clients. And it’s March which for whatever reason is the Granddaddy of months for everyone and their three brothers to be having horrible mental health symptoms.
So, Jack went to school. I told him he could call me if he felt really, really sick and needed to come home. But he didn’t call, so I figured maybe he was just fighting off a little virus and all was well.
Then he broke out in the rash. All. Over. His. Neck. And. Chest. He was simultaneously flushed and pale.
“It hurts when I gulp,” he moaned.
Off to the doctor we went. And he tested positive for strep on the rapid strep test, which almost always comes back negative. The doctor expressed how impressed she was with exactly how much strep my poor boy had. “Wow,” she said. “Normally it takes a full five minutes to read the test, but his popped up positive like instantly!”
“But he didn’t even have a fever,” I stammered, feeling close to tears.
I hate it that I get so wrapped up and overwhelmed with what I am responsible for at work that my own family seems to just get my overtired, sloppy seconds.
Our society has some really effed up values; both in terms of how families should be raising children, and in terms of our crappy mental health care system. If things were different, if there were more of an emphasis on putting your own family first rather than racing off to make the bucks to give your family the bare essentials, I could have been way more mindfull about Jack’s needs, and also not exposed his entire class to strep throat. And if our country had better access to mental health care, I would not be so freaking overwhelmed and insane at work (now isn’t that ironic), and could take my time with my clients and not worry quite so much if I had to take a sick day to take care of my sick kid. It just doesn’t seem like there should be a conflict when it comes to taking care of your own, sick, child.
After a couple days of antibiotics and lots of honey, Jack was back to school.
I’m glad he’s feeling better, but I drove to work feeling like a shit for having sent him off sick to school. I’m having a hard time shaking off this mommy-guilt, but I also feel a profound sense of resentment that I have to leave my kids, my own sick kids, to go to work and take care of other people’s sick kids. I know that isn’t very social-workery of me, but I have to recognize that this part of working motherhood is really sucky.
Ok. Rant over.
What regrets do you have as a working parent. Did you ever send kids to school sick?