Over the past few months, I’ve had to take several days of sick leave because baby boy had a fever. It was a weird virus thing that seemed to only cause fever and nothing else. He seemed to feel fine otherwise. Like, fine to the point where people maybe thought we were faking it. Sick enough to not be allowed at school, but well enough to have fun with mommy.
Mostly, it was a boom! Undivided time with my son! A little break from work! We got much-needed errands done, did crafts, played games, cuddled a lot, had great conversations, and monitored the fever. Thankfully it happened during a low-key time at work.
But it was also a bust. First, I couldn’t help but be a little annoyed at the fever policy at school. I mean, I get it (after all I do work in public health!), you can’t bring a sick kid to school because you don’t want to get other kids sick, naturally. And it’s a state law and regulations are in place for reasons and so forth. But other kids at the school must have gotten him sick in the first place so clearly they came to school sick – right? Then he has to be fever free for 24 hours with no meds before he can come back. So basically I have to keep him home fever-free for at least 1 day…. Using my precious sick leave.
Now before you get your torches out and start chanting, “But that’s what you get sick leave for, you dolt!” hear me out.
When it comes down to it, I only earn 8 hours of sick leave a month. That’s one day. This stupid virus sucked 2 days away in July and 2 days this week. Now what if somebody really gets really sick, like for real with maybe knock-on-wood hospitalization??! Or what if I get sick again this year (heaven forbid)? Or what if I actually get my act in gear and go for a well-woman checkup this year? And what if/when the stuff really hits the fan, my husband can’t take time off work like happened this time?
I feel like the threat of leave-without-pay always looms in the future of the working
moms parents with little ones. The dreaded LWOP. I feel like I have a complex about it that started with maternity leave. They allowed shared leave where I used to work so I got a little donated, but I think I had to take like 3-4 weeks of LWOP. I don’t think I was in danger of losing my job for excessive time off, but I’m sure there are other moms who aren’t or wouldn’t be so lucky if it weren’t for Family Medical Leave. But aren’t there countries that give families guaranteed paid time off work when they have kids? Oh that’s right, almost every other industrialized country but us. Even though my baby making days are over, this is still a very important issue to me. It speaks volumes about our country and how it views women, childbearing and families.
If we were to have any more kids, I’d be all about the LWOP because we are SOL: my SL went AWOL.
Now I realize that I just meandered from talking about taking Sick Leave to care for my son, to ranting about maternity leave. Maternity leave is a special thing, but it seems like taking leave to take care of somebody else in a time of need is also a special thing that should not only get you protected from being fired, but is a time when you most need reliable income. Bottom line: Perhaps I am intrigued by revisiting the way we “do” leave in this country.
I’ll save my vent about sucking the regular leave bank dry for another day. (Foreshadow: I may have to take LWOP for a family vacation that won’t happen for another few months!) For now, I’m thankful that our pay period just ended so I got another 8 hours’ sick leave in the bank! Too bad I just made a whopping withdrawal. On the other hand, maybe I should be thankful for the Sick Leave I get with my kids…. because it doesn’t look like I’m going to get to use annual leave any time soon. I’m just hoping for a healthy rest of 2012… because our medical account just got sucked dry as well!
Photo credit: David Blackwell via Flickr