Did you know I used to be a teacher? I taught 8th graders and I loved being in the classroom so much! I got out of teaching when I was on maternity leave with my youngest son. I was in denial most of my pregnancy with him about having to leave him at daycare after maternity leave was over, so I put off the daycare search until the last minute.
You can’t do that.
By the time I got my head together, all the daycares in our area had a waitlist, so I was pretty much screwed.
I spent the last few weeks of my pregnancy freaking right the eff out because the only “daycare” with availability was one of those places you see on the evening news, with crooked shutters and names that start with a K in klever - ahem, clever - ways. Ack!!
By the stroke of a lucky twist (I’m a hundred percent certain I didn’t get that phraseology right), a friend of mine started an ad agency right about this time and asked for my help as a freelancer, since my life before teaching was nearly 20 years in advertising.
That freelancing gig lasted about six years and once my friend’s company dissolved, I was able to continue freelancing to this very day. Next month it will be 11 years since I started freelancing.
I didn’t realize 11 years ago how important it would be for my family for this freelancing set-up to work out, and here’s why:
That precious little brown-eyed baby boy would have me taking off sick days all. the. effing. time.
Asthma. Strep. Ear infections. Asthma again. Strep again. Asthma a-freakin-gain.
It was so often, I started to say I was the one who was sick, just because I was embarrassed saying he was sick again.
I worried people would think I had a dirty house.
I worried people would think I had a sickly child (I mean, I did - and I do - but I didn’t want others to think of him as a scrawny, pale-faced kid with dark circles under his eyes. Think whatever you want about my kid, but don’t picture him as scrawny or pale-faced with dark circles).
I worried people would think that maybe he was eating dog food when I wasn’t paying attention. (Disclaimer: this only happened a couple of times.)
Here’s the deal: he turns 11 this week and we’re still dealing with sickness in him all the time.
Like seriously - all the time.
Mark says it’s because I didn’t breastfeed him. 😐
It’s frustrating and worrisome.
And I’m sharing this with you, why?
Not because I want you to feel sorry for us and certainly not to exploit my son’s health, but for these very distinctly different reasons:
The first reason is just to make myself feel like this blathering on in such a negative way isn’t all about me, and that this post actually has something of value to offer you, since you’re taking the time to read through all this drivel, and it is this:
- to tell you that, just like one of my online crushes, Marie Forleo, says, “everything is figure-outtable.”
Yes, my friend’s ad agency had just launched right around the time I had my son, but I have always been intent on keeping up my relationships from different jobs and careers, and if my friend hadn’t needed my help, I know I would have found another contact who could use my services.
I would have found a way to make money while I was home with my baby. It wouldn’t just come and land on my lap - I’d have to work to find it.
And I did. I figured it out.
I’m telling you this in case you feel trapped or stuck, because I have been there, and it’s a mindset. You can get yourself out of the situation you’re in. You can figure it out.
Secondly, I share this with you because I need to get it off my chest just how embarrassing it is saying I can’t do things because my child is sick because I say it so often that I sometimes tell you a lie and say that something’s come up: family is in, I have a headache, or - when I don’t want any questions - I play the diarrhea card. 🤷
I can’t bear saying my kid is sick every single time he is, because I don’t want people to roll their eyes behind my back and be all, “Ugh, that kid is so sickly,” or “There’s no way that kid is sick again - she just doesn’t want to get together.”
Because - even though that last one is likely true - I’ll usually force myself to go through with a get-together if I’ve committed. And once I’m there, I’m glad I went.
The third reason I’m sharing with you is because I want to know if you have ever heard of something like this before. My own momma anxieties are at an all-time high right now and I need you to either (a) talk me down; or (b) tell me something like, “Oh I know this lady whose daughter had the same thing and she went to this holistic doctor who made a voodoo doll of her and stuck a swatch of her hair in a locket that he hung on his rear-view mirror, and then - boom! - two days later she was healed.”
I know that my son’s immune system isn’t the greatest because he has asthma and is on daily/year-around steroids, which suppress the immune system even further, but this is starting to worry me.
I’ve talked to his pediatrician and his asthma doctor about whether they think he has an autoimmune disorder or something. They both say he does not.
So then, what gives?
This has been a hard year, y’all. Between the teenager taking 10 steps back in the maturity department and the youngest taking 10 steps back in the health department, I’m walking around with that same feeling you get when you cut your own hair: disappointed and sad and worried that things won’t ever return to normal.