Weekends are great, right? Time away from work, a chance to hang out with family, catch up on personal administration and recharge the batteries. Once upon a time for us it was a chance to catch up with friends, go out for a meal, catch a show… Not so much these days, but they are still fun times.
But not this weekend. This weekend was crap. So, the rest of this post is going to be a whinge. Hopefully it amuses some people, and reminds that among the at time blissfully fulfilling role of parents are spells of despair and frustration.
The struggles of the weekend just gone stem from one simple fact. The Mamanator and myself have both been sick. I was moving through a fog. A persistent headache that felt like my head was a fish-bowl full of thick-shake sloshing around every time I turned or moved too fast. And I was hot or teeth-chatteringly cold all the time. The Mamanator had a sore throat the whole time and was generally run-down, overtired and over it.
On Saturday my mum was up visiting, which eased the burden somewhat. Nonetheless the day still had its struggles. I was trying to determine which medication would help me feel like a normal human being again. The Mamanator was mislead by a recipe that said “4 spoons of curry paste”, and interpreted that as table spoons not teaspoons. The result was a Tom Yum soup that could strip paint. I liked it, but it was a bit too much for a 2 year old. The Mamanator also couldn’t eat it as experience taught her spicy food seems to lead to spicy breastmilk and an unhappy Lass. So, it was a bit of a shamozle, which The Mamanator thought was a catastrophe. A quick pasta was made up for herself and The Lad, and all was well.
The Next day was harder. No mum. I was useless. The day is actually a blur as I lurched about after The Lad and tried to be somehow useful. My one domestic contribution to the day was that I hung out a load of towels on the washing line and brought in the dry nappies. Go me, husband of the year. I also did something I NEVER do, I took a nap. Fortunately The Lad took a nap with me, so I kept him out of the Mamanator’s hair for 2 hours or so. Yes, it was a long nap. I did manage to hang out some washing at some point, and even kick a ball around with my son in some semblance of being a functional father. But for much of the day, we spent too much time in front of the TV.
Then at about 4pm The Mamanator told me she had spoken to the Maternal Child Health on-call line (essential number parents, 13 22 29 in Victoria), and got advice that we should go get The Lass looked over by a doctor. She had been unsettled all day and her cry started to sound hoarse.
Off we set to the hospital, the only chance of seeing a doctor in Castlemaine on a Sunday. Me still in my fog of head-coldiness, the Mamantor sleep deprived, The Lass crying hoarsely and The Lad wondering why we were heading out so late in the day. We got in. The Mamanator took care of forms and stuff for The Lass. I basically tried to stop The Lad walking into other patients rooms. He was restless, he ran laps of the hospital floor, smiled at every nurse he could find and sprinted up and down corridors. I think he had a great time. Once The Lass had calmed down The Mamanator and I swapped roles, giving me a chance to sit down while she took over Lad-minding duties.
We got called in after a bit of a wait. We were warned it would talk a while. The Castlemaine definition of a ‘while’ in emergency and the city definition of a ‘while’ are worlds appart for one another. We were seen after about 1/2 an hour of waiting. The girl had a throat infection and mild laryngitis (thus the hoarseness in the cry).
So we rolled on home. Dinner was…. fish and chips…. in front of the TV…. I was still in my pyjamas….. Not my finest hour as a family man. The Lad went to bed about an hour late.
Monday I was slightly better, my head had cleared, my throat was sore and I felt I could finally function as a human being. I did a half day at work, got a message that both kids were upset at home and came back as quickly as I could. So we played. The Lad napped. All was well. Something was defrosted for dinner (it was a mystery meal, no label, no idea of what it was but we figured “pasta sauce”, but it turned out to be gumbo which was again too spicy for The Lad. Pasta back-up was called in.
Monday night was hell. In our house I put The Lad to bed. I read stories, sing songs, often end up rocking him and comforting him till he nods off. This whole process takes between 1/2 an hour and an hour nights. On Monday night we went to bed at 7pm. He was awake at 8. He was awake at 9. He was awake at 10. Oh my god, it was frustrating. He was not himself, he wanted to play lively, physical games around bed time. When I tried to redirect to books or something more quiet it was an instant meltdown. I don’t know how many tantrums he through, but it would take more than both of my hands to count them. I called for reinforcements from The Mamanator at about 8:45pm. In the end we figured something was wrong and gave him some medicine to calm him down. It actually worked a treat, and he finally nodded off at about 10:07pm. I was wrecked.
So, when the parenting thing is hard what can you do? Looking back I think we did the best we could have, and we coped reasonably well. The biggest challenge is accepting your limintiins. If you are sick your capabilities are reduced. If you pretend the aren’t sick, you will almost invariably make yourself sicker. Seek help of you can (we can’t where we are, grandparents are back in Melbourne….), and grit your teeth and bear it.
After all, kids don’t take medical certificates.
Who else has had to cope with a half-functioning brain/body while wrangling kids? How did you cope?