Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shuffling the Kid

Obviously, neither Ed nor I has kids yet - and of course we may never have them, insofar as having children, adopted or biological, is never guaranteed - but we're in an unusual situation if we are ever to successfully adopt any.

I was reading this article tonight about the difficulties that arise when a child with two working parents becomes sick. The blogger acknowledged that "[t]he sick-kid shuffle must be particularly hard for single parents, or for people without local extended family, or for people whose kids have chronic conditions." Ed and I have discussed that it's unfortunate but increasingly common for people to live far away from their families, or indeed families just to be generally spread out. Ed is an only child who was born in Washington, D.C., moved to San Jose when he was a child, went to college in Arizona, and moved back to California, then Florida, and finally Utah, for work, while his parents themselves moved from California to Texas, and finally - and only recently - moved back to the Washington, D.C., metro area for their retirement; meanwhile, one of Ed's aunts lives in Pennsylvania, the other in California.

My parents lived in New York when they were first married, but then moved to the Lehigh Valley, where they've lived since (except for our family's year in Germany); my father is an old child whose parents and extended family most still live in the Lehigh Valley until they died, but my mother's sister and her family have lived in upstate New York for 20 years at least, while my uncle and his family moved from Boston to Vermont and now live in Virginia, although their daughter is in college in Boston, and their son will be going to Los Angeles for college next year. Meanwhile, my brother and his wife live in San Francisco, and I live in Utah.

So in other words, the immediate family, both Ed's side and mine, is spread out across six states, in three different time zones, and from coast to coast. Apparently we don't do the thing where the family lives in the same town, or even the same state, for multiple generations. If both Ed and I worked outside the house and had sick children, there would be quite literally no one to watch them; one of us would have to stay home.

Last weekend, one of the questions that came up at the Engaged Encounter was who would stay home and watch the children, because clearly most of the time either both parents are working outside the home, or one parent is not working outside the home. As it is, we have a slightly unusual situation. Ed stopped flying a couple years ago, and although he still works for SkyWest, he telecommutes (read: works in his grungies on the couch) whereas my employment status is still tenuous (subbing is not a career choice, no matter what they say). At some point I will have regular employment, even if it means working as a cashier down at the grocery store (please God let me utilize my education and teach), but Ed will still be working at home. Now, obviously he needs to be able to work, but rarely does his job require him to go into the office - or fly down to headquarters in St. George - so theoretically we could make it work such that Ed could watch the kiddo(s) while I'm out forcing kids how to learn semi-colons correctly, dammit, although some manner of morning babysitting might have to be instituted. This is all very theoretical at this point, but it's feasible - at least right now. I do not want to send my kid to daycare if it's possible, but there's simply no one else to help care for the kids we don't yet have.

I grew up with both sets of grandparents in the area, and lived to late high school with all four of them alive. I'm a bit sad that we aren't likely to have that for our children, but it's more and more common and usually can't be helped.

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