I’ve got the sick kid, working mom blues…

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Charlotte felt a bit warm last night. I took her temperature… 100.5. Eh—not so bad. We’ll see what happens. She’s probably fine, right? <—Denial. Deep parental denial.

Naturally, she woke up extra miserable this morning. Her voice was raspy, she was coughing, she couldn’t stop cry-whining (that’s a thing, in case you didn’t know), and her temp was 101.4.

Last week, I had to leave early to take Charlotte to a dentist appointment that we had already cancelled and rescheduled once before due to illness.

Two-ish weeks ago, I had to call HR from our locked, pitch black lounge because I was collapsed in a heap puking into a trash can with the worst migraine I have ever experienced.

Three-ish weeks ago, I sat in my boss’s office and explained that I needed to leave because our household had just been diagnosed with scabies and a) it is contagious, and b) I need to go pick up prescriptions and then get home and wash every last inch of everything. (Long story on that one. I just about fell out of my chair when my doctor called that day.)

Just before that, I missed work to deal with Ratgate.

Before that, I was sick.

Before that, Charlotte was sick.

Basically, all of those events in a row made for an unhappy boss. He was as gracious as he could possibly be, but I can read between the lines. I was being flaky. I knew it. I’d be really frustrated if one of my own employees was throwing up the constant excuses that I’ve been, so… yeah. Not winning any employee of the month awards right now. There is no denying that I am not really pulling my weight at the moment.

And now, Charlotte is sick. Again. And there is no denying her sickness, so I can’t even feign ignorance and send her to school anyway.

Our former nanny is unavailable. My in-laws are both terribly sick, so they can’t come up to help. My dad can handle a few hours here or there, but he cannot change a diaper or deal with anything more complicated than changing the channel or going to the park. The last time my mom caught a Charlotte-virus, she was down for over a month. Her immune system is shot and I can’t let that happen again. Catch

What are parents who work outside the home supposed to do? I get 5 paid sick days, which is great, but it’s not great if I have to use them all in January, and it’s really not great if management rolls their eyes because “she’s out again.” There is so much I could say about this, but I’m too tired and stressed to be articulate and feminist-y. Something’s gotta give, and it can’t be my paycheck.

 

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2.5 Years In

It would be great if someone could find me a job that involved sitting on my couch while taking naps and maybe taste testing Girl Scout cookies a few times a week. I am fucking exhausted. There are about ten thousand hours of TV recorded on our DVR at the moment—shows that we used to watch religiously after Charlotte went to bed at night. Except Charlotte never goes to bed at night anymore (or so it seems) so by the time she actually does fall asleep, we’re usually asleep, too. The same goes for naps (when she will take them.)

She’s lucky she’s cute, because we feel like the walking dead and I’m pretty sure we’re just going through the motions to get to the point where she is either a) old enough to watch our shows with us, b) no longer living at home, or c) sleeping like a normal human being.

She wakes up screaming a lot. Sometimes in the middle of the night (we’re thinking night terrors), but often, she just wakes up in the morning or from a nap and freaks the fuck out for whatever reason. This morning, I slipped into the shower before Catch left for work, and as I emerged from the shower to grab my towel, I was greeted by the screams of my child. “I NEED BIG MAMA! I DON’T WANT LITTLE MAMA! GO AWAY LITTLE MAMA! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! HOW DARE YOU FUCKING LOVE ME OR TRY TO CONSOLE ME!”

I swooped in wearing my damp towel expecting to save the day with my presence, and was greeted with, “I NEED BIG MAMA TO GO PUT A SHIRT ON! AHHHHHHHH!!!!”

I left to go put a shirt on. “I NEED BIG MAMA TO COME BAAAAAAAACCCCKKKKK!”

I put on a damn shirt and returned to her room where I was instructed by the tiny sobbing dictator to “LIE DOWN RIGHT HERE.” I obeyed. She started screaming at me about my feet. “I NEED BIG MAMA TO PUT YOUR FEET ON THE BED!” Um… okay? They are on the bed. I think? “NOOOOOO!!! I NEED YOUR FEET ON THE BED!” Fuck. My. Life. I ask her to show me what she would like me to do with my feet. She reaches over and shoves my legs clear off the bed. Okay, then.

Are you confused by all of this Big Mama / Little Mama business? Yeah, we were too. Charlotte has decided that mommy/mama will not fly in her two-mom household. We are now Big Mama (me) and Little Mama (Catch). Whatever floats your boat, kid. It’s a good thing your moms have a sense of humor. At least we know who the hell she’s talking about now when she’s screaming in the middle of the night. (Big Mama. Always. What a privilege that is. <–sarcasm)

It is amazing that you can love someone so much when they legitimately find joy in torturing you. Is parenthood just an understated version of Stockholm syndrome?

At this point, our lives are about 30% staring at our incredible child in wonder and amazement, 30% wishing our incredible child would just fucking sleep, 30% worrying about providing for our incredible child, and 10% contemplating whether they offer boarding school for toddlers.

She is incredible, though. In every sense of the word. Absolutely incredible.

Instant Pot Spaghetti

I have been in a food funk lately. I just don’t feel like cooking. I buy the groceries and then… meh.

Unfortunately for my kitchen blahs, we are trying to save money after the most expensive December I have ever seen and the other night I had no choice but to cook. Something. Anything.

I’ve seen a million Instant Pot spaghetti recipes that seemed pretty underwhelming so I made up my own on the fly.  This was dinner for the 3 of us on Wednesday and Thursday nights, plus there is enough for at least 2 days of lunches. I need to add the caveat that this is the spaghetti version of a midwest comfort food casserole. We’re not talking gourmet. We’re talking about a kid-pleasing weeknight meal that will fill tummies and get dinner on the table with one pot and very little effort. I am mostly sharing this because I totally winged it and want to remember what I did because I will 100% make it again.

Here’s what I used:

  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I used pork because I had it, but turkey would be totally fine)
  • 16 oz package of dry spaghetti noodles – I am 95% sure this would work with ANY kind of dry pasta
  • 24 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of water (I swished it around in the pasta sauce jar to get every last bit)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 bag of fresh broccoli florets–12 oz or so (optional)
  • frozen turkey meatballs (optional–these were more for the kid, but we enjoyed them too)

Brown & crumble the sausage using the saute setting

Break the spaghetti in half and spread it on top of the sausage

Dump the can of tomatoes, the water and the pasta sauce over the noodles. Make sure the noodles are covered with the liquids–smoosh it around a bit if you have to. Sprinkle with seasoning and salt.

Top with the broccoli florets if you’re not averse to smooshy overcooked broccoli that gets hidden in the sauce once it’s cooked so your kid doesn’t know it’s there. If you hate the idea of mushy broccoli, don’t add it.

Then throw some frozen meatballs on top. Charlotte loved the meatballs.

Put the lid on, seal the vent, and use the manual setting to cook on regular pressure for about 10 minutes. Do a quick release when it’s done, and mix well before serving. The broccoli will basically disintegrate if you use it, but whatever–the kid ate some broccoli and I didn’t have to beg.

Holidaze

About ten days before Christmas, Charlotte discovered that she could perform Cirque Du Soleil from the bars of her crib. The next day while I was at work, Catch converted the crib back to a toddler bed. You may recall that we attempted this several months ago and it was a total fail. Spoiler alert: nothing has changed. The toddler bed is still completely unacceptable to Charlotte.

We spent a number of nights lying on the floor next to her bed as she fought sleep and pleaded with us to put the bars back on. One night, I dared rest my head on her mattress and she sat up in bed and demanded, “ON THE FLOOR, MAMA. Mama sleep on the floor.” The days are a bit of a blur at this point, but that incident may have been the last straw for me as there is now a full/double size mattress in the place where the crib once was.

Charlotte is still not a fan of her bed, although at least this way I can lie next to her IN bed rather than on the floor.

We thought we did it right. We took her out and let her choose her own bedding. (Frozen—big surprise.) We involved her in the mattress selection. We talked it up and made a big deal out of how wonderful and exciting it all is. It’s still a no-go.

With the crib, we had our bedtime routine and after I sang You Are My Sunshine and we said our good nights, we would close the door and she’d put herself to sleep while we had some desperately needed down time before bed. Those days are gone, now. We both have to spend about an hour (+) lying there with her while she fights sleep with every fiber of her being. She sings songs. Makes random observations. Asks weird questions. Demands a drink of water. Untucks herself and then demands to be tucked back in. You name it. Eventually, she will start to get sleepy and demand that I snuggle her just so only she can’t articulate what it is she wants, so it becomes a frustrating battle of No, I need your other hand, mama. No mama, the other arm to snuggle you. Put your arm out to snuggle mama. No, the other arm. Until I end up twisted like a pretzel in the most uncomfortable position possible so that each of my hands is cupping her face just so with my “other arm” putting just the right amount of pressure around her middle.

Once she falls asleep (took 90 minutes last night) I gently untangle myself from her snuggle setup and Catch and I quietly creep to the door. She will sleep on her own until she wakes up screaming for me around midnight. At that point, I usually end up falling asleep in her bed with her and stay there until morning. She’ll wake up a few more times but I’m right there, so it’s relatively easy to calm her down and get her back to sleep.

Basically, this feels like having a newborn again. My body is sore, and I am exhausted. The mattress we got is perfectly fine for a 30 pound 2 year old. It is less fine for a thirty-something, overweight mama.

Also, she won’t nap in her new bed, so pretty much the only naps she took over the holidays were in the car. Yay.

So, sleep is crap. We are all overtired and cranky… why not add a good solid dose of the holidays? Sugar and presents and people and places and non-stop excitement are REALLY great when you have an overtired, overstimulated 2 year old. It has been a living HELL. I have never been SO over my kid before. I just can’t. By Wednesday last week, Catch and I were both counting the minutes until we could go back to work. We are DONE. She has been an absolute DEMON.

That’s not to say that Christmas didn’t have its moments. We did have a lot of fun. We spent a lot of time with a lot of family, and we all felt very loved. When Charlotte woke up on Christmas morning and exclaimed, “Santa ate the cookies!” my Grinchy heart grew three sizes.

My mom put together a dress-up/treasure box for Charlotte and it included a lot of my grandmother’s old costume jewelry, which was so unexpected and cool. Catch’s cousin in Washington sent Charlotte a frozen karaoke machine, and I don’t think she possibly could have sent a more appropriate gift to my kid. She is in love with that thing. She rode her Power Wheels Jeep at Oma & Opa’s house. Played with her baby cousin. Went to her first birthday party. Had a play date at the zoo with her friends from school. Had some one-on-one time with Nana, who was beyond excited to give Charlotte some gifts that she could not have been happier about. There was a trip to Disneyland that was filled with wide-eyed toddler amazement. She saw a movie in the theater for the first time and LOVED it. We enjoyed a prime rib dinner with my parents on New Year’s Eve while our overtired, slap happy kiddo entertained us with her “Happy New Hear!” exclamations and general silliness.

We may be starting 2018 a bit tired and slow, but I have no doubt that we’ll get through this hurdle just as we’ve made it through all the others.