Monday, March 29, 2010

Poo and Apple Jacks

Having a sick child is yet another one of those things that you can’t comprehend the full impact of until you actually, uh, have one. Like, five years ago someone would’ve said to me, ‘My kid was sick yesterday’, and I would’ve thought, ‘Oh, that poor kid’ and gone on my merry way. If I was feeling particularly snarky I might have also thought, ‘Well, at least you HAVE a baby’, or ‘I wish I had a little snuggly body to comfort in the middle of the night, we should all have your problems’.


Here’s what you don’t know if you haven’t been through it. A sick child does NOT mean snuggling a little person for a few hours, both of you curled up in some storybook rocking recliner, singing to the birds on your windowsill while homemade soup simmers on the stove and you gently apply cold compresses or some such shit.

Nope. Here’s a breakdown of the reality of a ‘sick child’.

Loss of sleep – I got three hours and some change Saturday night. Because she’d been up early Saturday morning, I napped. That meant I didn’t get to sleep until after midnight Saturday night. She woke up for the first time just before 4 am. I was almost back asleep at 5am when she threw up again. Same thing with 6, and then she was up for the day. Nap Sunday afternoon was interrupted by nightmare diarrhea (hers, not mine, but thanks for asking). So I was practically delusional by bedtime last night. I drugged her. No, seriously, I gave her Motrin ‘just in case’. If I didn’t get sleep before the work week started this morning I was going to be fired. Especially since I was sick all last week. Did I mention I was also sick? Yeah. Good times.

Laundry – Making a bed at 4 am blows. Facing a pile of laundry covered in vomit the next day after no sleep is worse. Multiple sheets, pillow cases, a pillow that had to finally just be thrown out, pajamas, towels, my clothes, her clothes, the couch, the blanket on the couch, my sheets, my bedspread, her bedroom carpet, the hallway carpet. Did I mention I had the misfortune to give her tacos for dinner Saturday night? Yeah. Tacos. Why couldn’t I have fed her oatmeal and brown rice? (beige carpets)

Diarrhea – Baby-sick-poo is the most gawd-awful smelling poo in the world. It also tends to blow out of diapers, resulting in even more laundry. Worse yet, it gives Jenny the most horrible diaper rash. She woke up screaming from her nap, and didn’t fully wake up – she was so hysterical she was grabbing hunks of my hair and biting them. No, really. For the last few changes yesterday I put her in the tub every single time, and she still sobbed and kicked and basically broke my heart. I have a new level of sympathy for parents who have to care for seriously ill or injured children. Causing your child pain is HORRIBLE.

Schedule – We are leaving to go out of town for Easter on Thursday, and I did not get a single thing done yesterday. No packing, no (trip) laundry, no dishes or other cleaning, no @#$% playroom painting. Nada. Zilch. Zip. I laid on the floor of several different rooms, I laid on the couch. No, wait, I did finally end up mopping the kitchen floor at 9:30 pm because I was so embarrassed that The Ta had come over to rescue us (1/4 lb-er for me, Pedialyte for Jelly) and there was taco seasoning from the night before still on the floor. And it was my WEEKEND, people! That’s not how it’s suppose to go! (whimper, self-pity, pout). We had hair appointments and were suppose to meet some family to celebrate Cousin J’s birfday, and obviously none of that happened.

The good news is that Jelly is a bouncy happy bean today. She kept down dinner last night (brown rice and Motrin, as mentioned, plus some apple sauce for good measure) and is back to her old self. And it could’ve been worse, right? It could’ve happened on a work night; I could’ve been as sick as I was last week; she could’ve been worse. It could’ve been the night before we were leaving on a 10-hour car trip.

I write this for the thinking-about-being-a-single-mom types out there. Not to scare you, because you will get plenty of that. And besides, nothing will be worse than what you come up with all on your own. I write it because lots of people will tell you in a really generic way that your life will change, and that it will be hard, and you’ll nod politely and think secretly to yourself that you have a great support system and are a really tough chick and there’s a solution for everything and all kinds of happy rainbows will shine down on you because you’ll just be so grateful to be a mother. And while I am grateful to be a mother, every single damn minute of every single damn day; this was a hard weekend. Think about scenarios like this, and what you’ll do, and how you’ll handle them. Think about who you’ll call, and who will understand, and what you’ll let go. Think about what having a sick child really means. Think about your house smelling permanently like poo, and rolling over onto Apple Jacks in the middle of the night (not that this has anything to do with Jellybean being sick, it just makes me crazy - it’s like a whole Princess and the Pea thing, I swear, they’re much worse than Cheerios). I’m not saying it’s any easier when you have a partner. And I’m not saying that other people don’t deal with much worse. I’m just saying, bad things will sneak up on you and really test you.

Take people up on their offers to help you. I’m pretty sure The Ta just automatically assumes now that when I say, ‘No thanks!’ all cheery and sunny, there’s going to be a very humble ‘Um, yes please’ following about 10-15 minutes later.

Let the unimportant stuff slide once in a while (that’s anything other than you and baby). Your house will be dirty. People will be mad at you. You’ll have lots of guilt. And, possibly, BO (maybe deodorant is not something you should let slide, although I’ll certainly look the other way if you don’t wash your hair for 3-4 days at a time).

Keep a sense of humor. It will help you, it will help baby. And it will hopefully teach baby to have a good attitude about shitty stuff as well.

Do what is best for you when you need to. Like, mixing decongestants with sangria. Sometimes that is just what has to be done, and that is ok.

You can do it, don’t get me wrong. Hey, if I can do it, any monkey with Nick Jr. and the ability to read ‘Elmo Loves You’ over and over again without retching can do it. Like I’ve said before, just be prepared to constantly doubt and re-invent yourself over and over.
Bigger, badder, stronger – that’s us.

And now, some pictures from the crappy backup camera:

A cute kid, all ready to go to the Chinese New Year celebration and get a debilitating but short-lived virus.
Say 'cheese'! Ack, camera too slow. Well, not too bad.
*Note - She loves this bus so much that she kissed it when she came downstairs this morning. Weird kid.

C'mon, camera, you can do better.
Well, that's a nice shot of all those lovely strangers.
Please, just try to focus on at least one thing.

Hey! There's my girl, squeezed into her little Asian-inspired jammies for the event.

Aaaaaand the ill-fated to-be-seen-again-in-a-much-less-happy-form 'Taco Night-mare'.

Thanks, camera, for getting her with her eyes closed.
That's it, I'm ordering another Easy Share.

Monday, March 22, 2010

In Like a Lion

I'm tired, hungover, and the allergies are killing me, but the blog guilt beat out everything. I had an awesome visit with my youngest sister, lost my camera, hacked the planet, and am loving this warmer weather.

I will post more about CarolinaCon after people get all their pictures online (there are going to be some doozies), but it was an awesome event and we have almost tripled attendance since the first con 6 years ago. I'm proud to be involved with such a knowledgeable and fun-to-drink-with group of people. Yes, hackers. Crazy, I know. Loud was there, which is always interesting. I managed to not ask a single question about Quiet, which I'm VERY proud of. Cousin J babysat for me, and gave me permission to stay out ALL NIGHT, so I could drink my face off and not worry about driving or waking up with the little beastie at 5am. I did have a wicked hangover that made caring for a toddler when I got home an extra-special joy, but it was totally worth it.

I broke down and made a doctor's appointment, since I'm pretty sure I've carried a sinus infection straight into allergy season. Nothing is coming close to touching the headaches and swollen face, so we'll see what Dr. Jones says. I've also got to get a prescription for generic Imitrex. My health plan charging me $200+ for everything else - FAIL. And it's nice to touch base with your doctor at least one every few years (really, I HATE going to the doctor). AND I need to ask when to get my first mammogram. I feel like it should be soon. Anyone had one?

Jelly von CrazyPants had a great time with Aunt Mare-Mare, who is the person tasked with raising said loony person if something happens to me. And we got along. For SIX WHOLE DAYS. I was happily surprised. I fight with everyone, but my sisters most of all. Well, not more than people at the gym. But yes, a lot. I think that's how it works in lots of families. Like the visit with my other sister, this one was bittersweet because it reminded me just how far away family is, and how seldom Jenny will get to see them. Also, my grandfather passed away, and I really didn't feel anything; I've seen him maybe 2-3 times max since high school, and didn't really know him. It horrifies me to think that things can get that way, and Jenny doesn't have a lot of immediate family to begin with.

The weather is alternating between unseasonably cool and ridiculously warm, which is making me nuts. We had a fun playdate with my CSM group yesterday and checked out a new park. Turtles! Ducks! Donuts! I took a sparse 3 pictures since I'm angry at my backup camera. The one of the turtles didn't turn out at all. Stupid camera. Stupid me.

*Backstory - When I was about 6 weeks from having JR I broke my camera, a Nikon Coolpix. I sent it off to be fixed, but then panicked that I wouldn't have a camera for the labor (ha ha! like I cared about that during labor. Ah, moms-to-be are funny). So I used AMEX points to get a new camera, and went with a Kodak EasyShare since I wasn't too crazy about the Nikon. I totally fell in love with the Kodak. When my sister was visiting, I lost it. I have a really bad feeling I set it on top of the car and drove off. I have torn the garage and house apart several times looking for it to no avail. While it was nice to have the crappy fixed Nikon handy to use, I am bitter and resentful. I miss my Kodak. I looked it up and it's like $200 to replace. I can't justify that when I have a perfectly good camera. Le sigh.

Jenny gets crazier and crazier. Toddlers, man. Saturday she woke up at 5am and was so grumpy that she lost her temper over something stupid and BIT me. On the freaking shoulder blade. I almost cried, I was so hurt and tired and shocked. Weekdays? I have to wake her up for daycare. ARGH. She is growing like crazy still, the eating is all erratic, and she flies off the handle over nothing CONSTANTLY. She is completely uninterested in potty training, throws things, and has mastered the 'I will come when I'm damn good and ready' attitude. On the cute side, she's suddenly very interested in birthdays (sings 'hap to you' over and over, only wants to read books that have pictures of cake and balloons and presents) and can count to 10! She can do up to 5 totally unassisted, which is hilarious, and to 15 with some prodding. She also knows most of her colors (didn't even realize she knew 'green' til yesterday - thanks, Spring). And I think Easter is going to be really, really fun.

More to come soon.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Time for Play

I realize I didn't post about the trip to Halifax, but that's partially because it was so bittersweet (soooo much fun but way too short a visit, so awesome to see my niece and nephew but so sad how much I've missed and how long it will be til I see them again), and partially because the trip home was so awful. No, really, it was awful. If I'm not going on and on complaining about it in painful detail to get laughs and sympathy, you have some idea just how bad. But yes, it was a great visit and we got to see an aunt and an uncle and some cousins and some grandparents, and Jelly had a blast. Unfortunately my sister has an awesome basement playroom in her house, which Jenny adored. And it got me to thinking, 'hmm, if I had a playroom I would be able to get her a train table for her birthday, and she would go out of her mind with happiness and maybe she'd go in there at 5:30 am instead of harranguing me'. Then I thought, 'hmm, I would also be able to get 56,234 Dora, Diego and Weeble toys out of my dining room'. Then I stopped thinking because I realized I was already sold on the idea and just had to figure out logistics. I was trying to keep the whole project a secret, but a video call with my parents last night blew that. They were all like, 'Uh, what room are you in?' and I was like, 'Shit! Jenny, don't say 'shit''.

I bought a 4-bedroom house when I moved two years ago, 7 months pregnant. I knew I needed a bedroom for me, and one for the baby. I also needed a dedicated home office space, and a guest room for the constant houseguests that were going to be staying with me round-the-clock for the next 10 years to help with the baby (hahahahahaha). Here I sit, two years later, with a guest room that only sees guests once or twice per year, and I'm working from my living room couch. Yes, I know it's bad for my back, I don't care, it's closer to the Girl Scout cookies.

So I decided to combine the home office and guest room into one seldom-used room, which meant that I opened up the other bedroom for a 2nd-floor play area, right across the hall from Jelly's bedroom. The best part is, there's an enormous closet, and I have managed to find homes for all the various useless items that were stored in there (a box full of ball caps, a bazillion cassette mix tapes that I can't seem to part with, a steering wheel cover, a 'Dogs Playing Poker' throw pillow - you get the idea). So I am going to make the closet a little play kitchen off the playroom! How cute is THAT?! Her two big birthday presents are the aforementioned train table and a kitchen center, so the kitchen and a little table/chairs will fit in there nicely. I'll make some sort of curtain-type thing to hang from the shelf above. I could faint, I love this idea so much. Also, I found a train table at my local consignment store for $58 with most of a set of train-y stuff (the Imaginarium Light & Sound Railroad, for those of you who are forced to care about these sorts of things), and talked to Customer Service yesterday to get replacements for the pieces that were missing for about $20. So that totally rocked. And it's stored in my garage for two months now, blergh.

The other crazy thing I decided to do was a mural. I can say with a great deal of modesty that I have done professional (PAID!) mural work in the past, for a few different places. I loved it. Don't get me wrong, I couldn't do it for a living because people make me crazy and I can't deal wtih criticism. But it's a great creative outlet when you don't really have anything else like that going on. Work right now is just so crappy, I thought, 'hmm, I've done murals for other people (my parent's house, my friend's house, daycares) but never one for me - maybe it's time?' (yes, I do seem to have a lot of thoughts in this post, I hope that isn't irritating you).

I struggled and lay awake and agonized over what to do, and this is what I've come up with;

An 'outdoor' theme, combining elements of quiet contemplation (reading corner 'garden'), activity (train station), and imagination (see 'fairy door', below). I'll have to sketch it out and scan it in for all y'all. It's great in my head.

The factors involved in my decision included age and gender neutrality, resale of the house, existing layout, level of effort, and copywright law. No Disney, no Diego. No pink, no huge holes in the walls. Plus, I wasn't allowed to do a whole room of dragons and fairies, because that would have been for me, not Jellybean. My compromise on this is to do a 'fairy door' in a painted tree on one wall, which is kind of cute in a subtle, not sad-omg-is-she-really-almost-40-no -wonder-she's-single kind of way.

The only problem is...

I still have



Want to know the good thing about painting with a toddler? THERE ISN'T ANYTHING GOOD ABOUT PAINTING WITH A TODDLER. They try to run circles in the room and step in the paint. They lick the brushes. They bang rollers on the walls. They are irritated you are ignoring them. They scream, 'Help, help help!' but only want to climb on the ladder. It's madness. I will only be able to paint on weekends when/if she naps, or after she's gone to bed. *sigh*

At this rate I'll be done in another two years.

Jenny is primed and ready to go:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Time for Work

Half-awake in the early hours of this chilly March morning, a very familiar tune managed to seep through my sleep-deprived haze. Anyone familiar with toddler television probably shares my intense hatred of a certain moose and bird, more or less depending on the exact time they first greet me upon waking. The start of a new month meant the start of a new monthly theme, yet this one was oddly familiar. With a shock I realized it had been one full year that I’d done this exact routine.

We’re going on a trip.

A year ago Jenny couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk. A year ago I thought I knew Jenny, but she was only just starting to be Jenny.

The baby is awake. Get her out of her crib. Change her diaper. Get her a bottle. Pull her into bed with me.

There are times when the routine is comforting, when monotony is welcomed.

Pay the sitter on Monday. Put the garbage out on Thursday.

It means I don’t have to think as much, just go through the motions. My brain remembers the familiar patterns, helps push me along.

Get gas on Monday. Get paid every other Thursday.

Then there are times when the seemingly endless unchanging stream of drudgery makes me want to scream. No, makes me want to cry, silently and under my covers, hiding from the world and its expectations of me.

Make breakfast. Unload the dishwasher. Dress the baby. Put in a load of laundry.

But to hear that it’s been a year – that is astounding to me. Not that it’s been a year that I’ve had this person in my life


but that it’s been a whole year that I’ve done these things. That there was time before that when I did something different. That there will be time after this when things change again. One day plus one day plus one day.

Make breakfast. Dress the toddler. Read a story. Take her to daycare.

March means that in two more months, I wlll have a two-year old. Twenty-four months of Jellylbean.

Months of cuddles, months of worry, months of exhaustion, months of motherhood.

It’s been a rough few days. She’s been waking up at 5:30 or earlier for almost a week straight. It’s made me think about how I did this, two years ago. Taking naps over my lunch break, going to bed at 8 pm. If someone asked me how I did it that first year, I wouldn’t be able to answer. The reality of being a mother is that you just do. You give in and start buying Red Bull by the case. You get better at accepting your limitations. You struggle each and every day, doubting yourself at practically every turn, agonizing over each decision you make. But you keep on getting out of bed every single morning, and putting a smile on your face for the person who is happiest to see you out of everyone in the whole world.

It's 3 am. Is she going to wake up at 5:30 again? 5 am. Is she going to wake up at 5:30 again? 5:25 am. The sound of little feet padding down the hall makes me want to throw up.

I have to go to the corporate office next week. My last trip was booked March 25 2009. I can’t believe it’s been so long. I can’t believe how much has changed.

How much Jelly has changed. How much I've changed.

The trip is going to be a long week, Sunday afternoon until late Friday night. I’m worried about her, this kid who stands outside the shower door howling because we’re separated for that handful of minutes. I haven’t been a good mother these last few days, and that makes the guilt that much worse. I’ve been tired and impatient and short-tempered. I’ve snapped at her and slapped at her and thrown things and acted like, well, a two-year old. I feel bad because it will be a welcome break, the week away. Sleeping til at least 7 in a bed I don’t have to make, while someone else deals with the tantrums and the stubbornness and the lack of naps.

Jellybean girl, I miss you already. I’ll always come back, I hope you know that. I’ll always be thinking about you. I love you more than I ever dreamt possible.

A new day.

I’ll do better, I promise. And when I fail that, know that I love you no matter what.

A new month.

We can do it. We're mama and Jelly, and we have plenty of time to figure this out.

Time for work.