the welfare state giveth, the welfare state taketh away

My son was sick yesterday, so the Swedish state paid me to stay home with him, a one day trip back to Daddyland.

It was one of those good sick days.  He was much too sick for daycare but healthy enough to run and play and laugh.  He is the same age now as his big sister was when I was home on paternity leave with her.  And our children do hit some sweet spot about 21 months, both standing up in their chairs at the table and shouting, “HAPPY!”  And then kissing me over and over.

It was such a relaxing day of puzzles and rolling around on the bed, that it made me realize how slightly chaotic and slightly stressful my last paternity leave actually was.   My first leave with NK was slower paced, with a sunny spring and a friend to hang out with, and, to be honest, with no blog and no writing assignments.  I just read mythology books and napped.

This last leave was about getting up at 4am with Baby B, who was a more frustrated and shy child.  It was about two kids, about daycare dropoffs and pickups, about a very long morning nap that kept us from big outings.  It was about my own writing and my own exploration of Daddyland.  It was perfect in its way, but yesterday was perfect in the old way, and I’m happy I get days like this with my son here and there.

It was actually too good.  Because I hated work today.   I’ve been broken out of a work rhythm in which I looked forward to the office a bit, got my fill of my kids and thought I had a balance.  But now I just want back.  I wrote a few days back about the hard edge of the Swedish system, where the kids all go to daycare at the same time, no breaking out of the box.

And I hate that his daycare teachers -who are wonderful – get to be with my son during this beautiful stage.  I see it in their eyes when I pick them up and ask how his day was.  They just beam.  I want to beam.

But Sweden giveth, Sweden taketh away, Sweden giveth again.  We’ve got more than four weeks off around Christmas.

Makes me want to stand on the table and shout, “HAPPY!”

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