Last week was one hell of a week. You know those times where everything happens at once? Like your kids stomach issues flare up to a point where you think you now have enough training to become a midwife. Or your kid isn’t sleeping through the night. And it’s the week that you’ve been invited to the board of directors dinner (a bit of an honor at work) and you’re doing your annual 7:30am presentation to them the following morning. It also happens to be the week that your ever reliable and flexible nanny is on vacation… And your nanny back-up plan fails miserably.
Maybe you haven’t had these exact experiences but possibly you’ve experienced something similar. You know, the stuff made for heart attacks.
Well, I thought I got through it all swimmingly well and that my presentation to the board was a success. According to every person in the room it went really well; except my boss didn’t think so. Whomp whomp.
Of course my boss, who knows me the best out of everyone who was there, saw that I wasn’t at 100%. And she asked me why.
I had a choice to make. I could either have brushed it off to just having the jitters or I could have told her about the hell I was dealing with regarding the previously reliable back-up care program that the Company provides. I chose to tell her the truth (or at least most of it; she didn’t need to hear the traumatizing details about my child’s constipation).
But it frustrates me that men rarely ever have to deal with the challenges that I – and other working mothers (single or not) – face in order to be able to show up to work each day. And I know that this is holding me back. And it makes me want to scream.
If you’re interested in knowing just how badly my plan B failed, read the letter I wrote below, at my boss’ recommendation, to the woman who manages the relationship with back-up care program at my office.
I realize now that I need a plan C, D and E. Any suggestions or advice would be most welcome.
I want to give you some recent feedback on the back-up care program.
When I used them last year, I had a fantastic experience. However this year proved to be a disaster.
Not only were they slow to respond to my initial request regarding finding an in-home caregiver for 4 days even though I gave them over a week’s notice, but they also made numerous other mistakes and mishaps:
* They did not cancel the caregiver they initially provided me with when I requested a cancellation. The woman showed up at my house! (I had cancelled this woman as she seemed dismissive of my daughter’s significant special needs and also because she came across as absentminded when I spoke to her on the phone the evening before she was scheduled to come). I then had to work from home on the first day I had requested a caregiver to work.
* When they did find a replacement for the three remaining days, I never received a call from the new caregiver. I called the back-up care service twice on the evening before the service was to commence (May 19th) and was assured that the caregiver would call me in the morning. When I didn’t get a call from the caregiver the following morning, I called them again. I was glad I was persistent because the agency who was placing the caregiver never got in touch with the caregiver to confirm the job. It was 1.30pm when I found all this out and my daughter was due home from school at 3pm. Note that it sometimes takes me an hour and a half to get home. Thankfully the caregiver was notified and arrived at my home in time to care for my child.
* This caregiver took care of my daughter the evening of the 20th and the morning of the 21st so that I could attend dinner with the Board of Directors and then present to the Board’s CR Committee the following morning.
* Today was going to be the last day in which I needed a caregiver (thankfully the nanny is coming back tomorrow) and I got a call from the back-up care program last night at 8.45pm notifying me that they had to change caregivers as the person who had initially taken the job (and had already cared for my daughter) couldn’t make it. So I cancelled it. I now need to leave the office early again today to meet my child at home. It is too traumatic on my child, and on me too, to have to train someone new and list out all of my daughter’s disabilities and needs.
I appreciate that there are sometimes hiccups in the system but this was one hiccup after the next.
Attached you will find the email I gave to the caregiver’s agency which I had already written out the previous evening when I didn’t get the required call from the caregiver. You will see why it is imperative to have one person, and not multiple (which the back-up care program didn’t comply with) care for my daughter.
I know you are not directly responsible for any of this but I did want you to be aware of this experience.
Please call or email if you’d like to discuss further.