When my husband and I found out we were pregnant, we were thrilled. After five years of infertility, I knew I wanted to spend every minute I could with the twins during their first years, so we decided that I would stay home with them as long as we could financially manage it.
Then at 22 months, my child Rocco was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. For a long while, the disease swallowed us. Our days were filled with life-threatening unknowns as we navigated our way through a scary new world. The thought of working outside of home then seemed so impossible. We decided again that I would continue to stay home to make sure Rocco could achieve the best diabetes control we could manage.
That decision extended over the next four years. We never got to take a cool vacation. We never did anything extravagant. There were too many other “have to’s” that got in the way of that, but we made the best of it. Truth be told, I loved every minute of that time with the boys.
However, I worried about becoming the uninteresting wife, or the helicopter mom, or the stay-at-home mom with nothing on her resume. By the time the boys were seven, I knew I should start thinking about heading back to work. Rocco was very responsible with his diabetes, his brother Zeke needed space apart from me to grow, and my husband needed a financial partner again.
Then the fear set in of how do you tell your potential employer that you will be getting text messages or phone calls from the school or sitter about your kid all day? I imagined myself in the interview saying, “There might be times when my son is in an emergency situation and I have leave for an hour, or the maybe rest of the day. That won’t be a problem, right?” Sure lady, no problem.
Plus, who would be the “owner” of Rocco’s blood sugar numbers? Diabetes requires attention every minute of every day. Everything a person does, feels, or consumes builds into the next blood sugar number. Who was going to keep track of this information while I was at work? I felt terrible making my seven-year-old in charge of that: “Honey make sure you finish your spelling, and read 10 pages of Captain Underpants. Oh, and don’t forget to keep your blood sugar in range. Have a good day.” My fears crept up on me with every job posting I read.
Then one day, a good friend called me out of the blue. “So, are we looking for a job or not?” she asked.
She needed someone to fill a sales job that had opened up. I was thrilled, but nervous. I said, “You know my situation. If I have to run to him, I have to run. I promise to not take advantage and I’ll work very hard. Is that okay?” She and I had worked together twice before, so she knew my work ethic. She agreed without hesitation.
Truth be told, I hung up the phone and cried. I cried as if someone had died. I cried because I knew it was actually the old me who would be disappearing: the dedicated mom who monitored every blood sugar and every meal; the mom who prided herself on living for the betterment of her children. Was it going to be worth it? I decided for everyone’s sake that I had to try.
It has been a year and half since I have gone back to work. There have only been a handful of times when I’ve had to run to Rocco. I am happy to report that my family has not fallen apart in my workday absence. Zeke has grown emotionally and physically, Michael breathes a little easier when the bills come, and Rocco is happy to have his new Dexcom continuous glucose monitor, so he can have even more control over his numbers. As for me, while I never stop thinking of Rocco, or Zeke, when I go to work, I do appreciate having the time to explore the gainfully employed side of life.