No matter how much you think you have life under control, it all changes when a loved one is sick. Last week, as I was filing on deadline, my daughter's stomach pains became so excruciating that we rushed to the hospital. We have been here ever since.
Despite fantasies of working from the hospital, after eight days, I am exhausted and find I need to put my work life aside and concentrate on consulting with doctors to get my daughter better. I think about the dozens of parents I have interviewed when working on articles about the Family Medical Leave Act. These parents were so grateful for the federal law that guaranteed their jobs when they took up to three months off to care for sick children.
Today, I've set up a work station in my daughter's hospital room. I'm thankful to be able to check email and blog, something to distract me from seeing my daughter suffer. I happened upon a New York Times blog post that sympathizes with parents of chronically ill children who bear the burden of trying to keep their children alive and healthy, while attempting to balance the demands of work and home. Many of these parents have to keep the balancing act going. No work, no medical insurance. How do they do it? I really don't think I could keep up at work if I had a child with a chronic or life-threatening illness. So far, I've been the one here night and day. But if goes on longer, I wonder if it would it become a source of tension with my husband? That topic seems to be the subject of discussion in at least one forum.
If you have been in this situation, did your sick child tip the balance for you or your spouse? Did your work life suffer? Do employers stop being understanding when the need for flexibility is ongoing?