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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Single Working Mom Day

I am a bad Mom today. As hard as that is, it's harder that I'm a bad Mom and I really can't do too much about it right now.

This is a very busy week for me at work. My department is hosting a conference of high-level executives from all over the globe, and it's my job to coordinate the whole thing, from setup to logistics planning to execution.

It's a lot of work, compounded greatly by the fact that they just restructured the department, and reduced the headcount in certain areas - one of them was mine, of course. There used to be two people doing this job and now there's just me.

And just me woke up at 12:35 am this morning to the sound of a little boy projectile vomiting all over a bedroom.

I know a lot of you reading this are moms. Maybe you don't work outside the home and a situation like this would mean you're tired, you're doing laundry, you're cleaning up, you're pushing the fluids on your kid, and your house smells kind of bad.

Some of you are working mothers like me and you're scrambling to call work and let your boss know you're staying home, or your husband is staying home today, or you're calling your Mom or your sister or your in-laws and begging them to sit with your kid because you have this huge global conference that you have to be there for. When they arrive you sigh with relief, ask them to throw the load from the washer into the dryer, apologize for the way the house smells and off you go, calling to check in every so often.

And then there are those of us without a net. No ex-husband living nearby to fall back on, no in-laws or family within hundreds of miles, no way to call out of work without putting our job in serious short, no options.

So today, I am a very bad Mom.

My twelve year old daughter is staying home from school to watch her little brother.

For those of you who don't know my full backstory, let me clarify:

My twelve year old daughter is staying home, missing school, to watch her brother - a ten year old child with autism - because he's sick. She'll be refilling his water cup with the special curly purple straw that he likes. She'll be re-tucking the blanket around him as he lays on the couch. She'll be checking him for fever (mercifully absent so far) throughout the day and calling me to report. She'll be making him lunch, if he can eat it. She'll be hoping that he doesn't throw up again (crossing my fingers - so far, so good).

Me? I'll be running around fetching power cords and emailing slide decks and calling reservation desks at restaurants and coordinating activities with a concierge and wishing to God I could win the lottery.

I try to remind myself that the kids were off yesterday as part of their Thanksgiving break, so my daughter isn't missing any tests or anything on this first day back. I tell myself that he's not feverish and he only threw up the one time, so maybe it was just something he ate and he'll sit around watching TV all day. I know my daughter is secretly thrilled to get to do this and I know they're twelve and ten, not five and three.

But I also know this isn't how it's supposed to be. My kid is sick. I should be there. My daughter should be in school, not home doing my job.

Unfortunately, it's not my only job, and the other job keeps a roof over our head and medical benefits that we need and pays the bills and gives us money to buy the food that we eat. I cannot risk that. Not this week.

This is just one of those spectacularly bad coincidences that occasionally turn your life upside-down and you cope the best way you can.

My best today is lousy. I am lousy. I feel lousy about being lousy.

I just have to hope we get through today and tomorrow, I can be a better Mom again.

Please let me be a better Mom again. I need to be.


  1. I think in this case you made the best decision you could given all the variables. Plus you have great kids. I think this makes you an AWESOME mom making the best of a the circumstances.

  2. Dear Ellie, I've been following you for a bit, but haven't yet responded.
    Please, cut yourself some slack!! It sounds like your a spectacularly fantastic mum in a tough spot.
    Your daughter will be a more responsible and well rounded person because she has had experiences like this. I grew up with a chronically ill father, and although it was not easy, I can really say I'm a stronger, more responsible person for it!
    I hope he's well and you all stay well!