I sat at my desk, watching my little one practice spelling. He had opted to sit on my bedroom floor while I worked, as opposed to sitting in his own room at his own desk.
I came to a realization as I sat there watching him work. Or rather, I came to several realizations.
These are interesting times we’ve found ourselves in.
It was a Tuesday afternoon, and he wasn’t at school and I wasn’t at work. I don’t have the option yet to write full time for a living, so I have a full-time job and write in my spare time. On a Tuesday afternoon I would normally be sitting in my office at said full-time job. My son is eight. On a Tuesday afternoon, he’d normally be sitting at a desk in a classroom surrounded by his peers.
Truth of the matter was, I was home ‘sick’ from my day job that day. And by ‘sick’ I mean I had a head cold – not something that I normally would call off work for.
Truth of the matter was, my little one is participating in virtual learning instead of learning in a traditional classroom setting. So, he’s being taught at home by myself and his soon to be stepmom – whoever has the time that day.
That Tuesday, I found myself not well enough to go to work – so I got to sit and write and help him with schoolwork. Too sick to risk getting others sick, not sick enough to be bedridden.
Even though I didn’t feel the best, the experience wasn’t lost on me.
I sat working on my writing at home instead of going into the office where I normally spend Monday through Friday at as a property manager. And he sat on my bedroom floor practicing spelling instead of sitting at a desk in a classroom.
I remember a time when I would have had no choice but to survive a head cold with energy drinks and cold meds – no option to stay home because I was a single mother with one income, and we couldn’t afford for me to miss a day of work. And definitely no pandemic to force me to stay home when the caffeine and cold meds could make me feel almost normal and function through the day.
Times have changed.
Now I have progressed professionally enough to have this wonderful thing called paid sick time, which didn’t exist for me all those years ago. Now my income exceeds my bills instead of the other way around. So even if I didn’t have the sick time available, I could still afford the day off if I needed it.
Let’s not forget the fact that we’re living through a pandemic.
I was home sick, and it just so happened that he had tests in math and language arts, as well as science that day. The evening before I had been looking over his schoolwork and wondering how I was going to pull off all three tests the next day.
Talk about the stars aligning.
It occurred to me as I sat there watching him write out his spelling words how lucky we actually were.
We don’t get these times back.
Ten years ago, not only would I have not been able to afford to take time off, but I actually would have been penalized for taking the time off.
Now it’s required – even with just the slightest cold symptom, employees are encouraged to stay home – and now I get paid for it?
I wish I had similar opportunities with my oldest. Maybe not the whole pandemic and illness part, but I wish I would have had more time to sit with my oldest child as I was sitting with my youngest, teaching him spelling tricks and listening to him sing-song his way through his assignment.
When my oldest was little I had no choice but to find a way to go to work, even feeling less than stellar. I was forced to make the decision – keep a roof over our heads, or get the rest my body needed? Energy drinks and Dayquil ended up being the ultimate choice, in order to get me through my day – because that roof was more important. I would come home and tend to the house and the child and collapse into bed for a few hours. And wake up to do it all again.
I recognize that my time is more valuable than the money I make. But the roof was pretty important, too.
So, the moment wasn’t lost on me as I sat there watching my youngest child do schoolwork.
This year has been far from normal – but like anything, looking for and finding the silver lining is all that we can do. And in that moment, I had done just that.