Monday, September 12, 2011

I Need a Vacation. And No, Jury Duty Does Not Count.

Life is seriously crazy, with ongoing book edits and a ton of freelance writing and my daughters settling into school. Because I have outstanding bills for my running injury plus a many-hundreds-of-dollars fee due this month for the renewal of my psychologist license -- and my husband just got laid off from his extra part-time job -- I've been very focused on earning money. Therefore, last week I set a goal to more than double my typical week's worth of freelance output. I was successful, but I literally worked from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. My plan was to repeat that goal this week and next, and get the bills totally paid off, but a.) I'm not sure I have the stamina; and b.) starting next week, I'm on jury duty for two weeks.

Yes. Jury duty. In a different town. And we have only one car between us. And I am a FULL-TIME STAY-AT-HOME MOM, yo. With no alternate full-time childcare (which means my husband would need to take vacation days if I get called in).

This jury duty spell is rescheduled from my first call, which I received last April, before Genevieve was in school for even the daily half-days she's in now. I requested a waiver of my duty in April, citing that I am full-time caregiver with no alternate help. I know this is a valid reason in many states. The county gave me a postponement instead, and assigned me to mid-September. Here it is mid-September.

I said it back in April (to much controversy on Facebook), and I'll say it again. How is a full-time caregiver of small children supposed to just up and serve on a jury all day every day (potentially for two weeks)? (I know it's statistically unlikely that I will be called in for more than a brief time, but the fact is, the call is for two weeks.) I don't have extended family in town to take both my children after school and Genevieve every morning until 12:30, to get them to and from the bus stops, to be available for the additional weekday activities and obligations. It's not a small deal for my husband to take off from work so I can serve on a jury; that's two adults' work affected for one person's jury call. Last spring, people who most likely weren't parents scoffed at my concern and told me to bring my daughters to one of those drop-off childcare centers.

A.) My town does not have any drop-off childcare centers; and B.) Are you insane?

I am not saying that we all -- including me -- shouldn't have to fulfill our civic duties as Americans under our justice system. What I'm saying is, I know there are people out there who are not currently taking care of two small children and working from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day to earn enough money to pay their bills. I know those people are more available than I am. I know they exist. And I swear, if one of those people took my turn for me now, I would do it for some other over-extended stay-at-home mom of small children later on, a few years down the line, when both my daughters are in school for the entire day and it would be far simpler to arrange substitute care for them for a couple of hours a day without me.

Of course, my county does not care about any of this.

So, next Monday, please send get-out-of-jury-duty vibes in my direction. Because if I thought last week's schedule of nonstop caregiving + working was busy and hard, can you imagine how jury duty would fit in?


Mom and Kiddo said...

I still wonder what would happen if you just took Genevieve in with you.

Rita said...

I am SO with @momandkiddo... take your children with you and see what happens.

I was called for jury duty when Paige was just a nursing infant and I TOOK HER WITH ME and NURSED HER IN THE JURY POOL ROOM.

Strangely, I got out of jury duty ; )

Shannon said...

Ladies: I am seriously considering it.