Today I took my child to work with me. We recently changed our schedule so that no one has to go into the office on the weekends. Now every other weekend either myself, or my coworker Callie will work from home. This means I can spend every weekend at home with my son. Last weekend was my first weekend of freedom. Callie took the on-call phone and I enjoyed a blissful weekend at home doing, well, laundry.
I returned to work on Tuesday and learned that the on-call phone was not set up properly. Callie spent the whole weekend in the office. I was assured however, that the issue would be resolved by this weekend. You can guess where this story is heading. This morning I was eager to get my work out of the way early. I grabbed my laptop and jumped right in. At 8am I turned on the phone and, just for kicks, I gave it a test call.
You can see where this is heading. Straight to the office. Someone has to be available to answer the phones between 8 and 5. This weekend, that someone is me.
What does a Single Parent do when they have to go to work on short notice?
I’ll tell you what I did. I loaded up some snack food, toys, and a tablet. Snapped my four year old into his car seat, and then we headed for the office. Anyone who has been in this situation before will tell you it’s not ideal. Bosses don’t love the idea of having children in the office. I am lucky to have a job that lets it happen at all.
Taking a young child to work goes something like this:
It begins off with excitement and fear. Is this going to work? Will I get anything done? Maybe it will be good, they’ll get to see what work is like. Maybe we’ll both have some fun in tough situation. And part of the day will be fun. They get to explore a new place, and learn a little bit more about what you do during the day. You’re job will seem less horrible because for the first 30 minutes, someone will actually be interesting in what you’re doing. Unless you have a job that’s cooler than mine, in which case maybe they’ll be entertained all day.
Realization: My job is boring.
I answer phones, make out going calls, and format excel spreadsheets. It’s a good gig, don’t get me wrong, I like my coworkers and I have good benefits. But there’s not much exciting to show a 4 year old. Once we got passed how the phone works and what the office looks like, he was pretty much done. That’s when phase two of our day kicked in.
Okay, so this is happening. I’ve settled in to start work, and he’s watching some cartoons quietly. We’re not stoked to be here, but this is going to work out.
Things are getting stressful. The snacks are running low. He’s bored with his tablet and digging through desk drawers. This is where your patience starts to run thin. I yelled ‘don’t touch that!’ ten times during this stage of the day. The phrase ‘Lord Help ME’, came out of my mouth more times than I care to admit. He cried about spiders, he bumped his head on the underside of my chair, and he refused anything resembling a nap.
Working as a single parent is difficult. I assume working as a parent in general is difficult. When I’m gone to work, I miss my kiddo. But having him with me today made me appreciate the hours of separation we have during the week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still miss him. But I was beginning to believe I’d bitten off more than I could chew.
This is where you realize you have a good job, and a great child. You’ll be going home soon and the world didn’t end. Your kiddo didn’t break everything in the office. Everything you set out to accomplish happened. You breath a sigh of relief, and you can pack up and go home.
Maybe things could have gone better. Maybe working as a single parent when you don’t have a sitter made you panic. Now you have one more thing you can be proud of.
My day was full of stress, but it was also full of laughter. For the most part, I had fun at my job. I’m glad I was put in this situation, because I can be proud of my self and my son. We did it.
The challenges that working as a single parent bring have made me that much stronger. They bring me and my son closer, because we have to fight through the tough stuff together. This may not be life the way I imagined it, but I couldn’t ask for much better.