Member Articles

Write an article!

Sick Days for Mental Health

The Universe and Ferris Bueller teach me a lesson

by el-e-e  |  2705 views  |  3 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Late last Wednesday, I got the dreaded phone call:

"Hi, Mrs. Thrash? It's Darby at (my son's daycare center)."

Darby's the front desk manager. I like her. But I don't like getting phone calls from her; as you working moms know, it usually means something is not right. It usually means The Grand Plan -- the working-in-an-office-slash-mothering plan -- has unraveled. It means I cannot perform both as employee and as Mom for that moment. "Oh well," I think. Then… "Ooh, I bet I'll get to leave right now!" That usually buoys me up for the bad news of sickness or injury, and I'm willing to admit it.

Two-year-old AJ had a red irritated eye that day, and the daycare does not mess around when it comes to possible pinkeye. They wanted him out of there. I was not convinced it was something contagious, but the next morning he woke up puffy around the lashes like so many Stanley Cup contenders, so I went ahead and called the doc.

To make a long story short, it was NOT pinkeye, and AJ felt perfectly fine all day... but I chose to keep him home. Meaning, we had a day off! An absolutely fine-as-a-fiddle "Sick Day." Those are the best kind, after all -- just ask Ferris Bueller. I had been thinking, just the week before, that I needed to take a "mental health" day and spend some fun time with the kid, for both of our sakes. But I'll admit something else: I'm not very good at releasing myself from my commitments.

Working moms, I think, are so bound by guilt and loyalty that we try to do it all, all the time. I never take a personal day of my own volition, because I don't know when I'll have to take one. With all the germs floating around in day care centers, there's a chance for real pinkeye, or a cold, or a tummy bug, all year long. And since I sometimes work from home, I feel like the office gives me plenty of flexibility on my time. They give me vacation days, which I take for vacation. I can't just LEAVE, any old time I choose with no calendared reason. That would be… selfish? Not up to gold-standard employee-ism? Something.

It was nice that the opportunity -- the possibility of pinkeye -- presented itself. I told my office he was sick and they were none the wiser. Now, I'm not suggesting that we all regularly LIE in order to navigate the work-life balancing act… but sometimes, when the universe hands you a freebie, you have to take a lesson from it.

AJ (and his sty) and I went to lunch at McDonald's -- he DID have to endure a doctor visit, after all, and what better 'treat' than McNuggets and a stint at the PlayPlace? We had an afternoon "book picnic" in the front yard, complete with cold grapes and Make Way For Ducklings, and we played one heck of a lot of hide-n-seek.

About the Author

Lee is a full-time Web Producer in Atlanta, and mom to AJ, 3, and KT, who arrived Feb 15, '08.

Read more by el-e-e

3 comments so far...

  • I used to consider snow days as "freebie" days off when my son was younger. They were pretty rare where we lived - not more than one or two most years - and they were like a free pass to stay home and enjoy some time.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Florinda Pendley Vasquez on 15th June 2007

  • I had a morning like that today. I had overcommitted myself this week at work, and was stressed about it. I got the call yesterday from my babysitter, my daughter was throwing up. By lunchtime, I had picked her up and taken her to the doctor. This morning, she ended up being fine, and I still cancelled the first part of my day since I wasn't sure she could keep down her breakfast and medicine. I did need to go in this afternoon, but it was nice to have a few hours to play and catch up with my kiddos today.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by amanda on 15th June 2007

  • What a great idea! I enjoy any fun time I can "steal" from when I'm supposed to be productive--especially if it's playing with my daughter.

    Susan at Working Moms Against Guilt

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Susan Wenner Jackson on 11th June 2007

Work Life Balance Stories

Check out our best tips for balancing work and home life.

Quick & Easy recipes

Browse our favorite quick and easy recipes, perfect for busy moms.

Ask & Answer Questions

What working moms are talking about on our question board!