I took some time off from work this week, with a three-pronged goal of preparing for my new job, finishing my (second) master’s thesis and enjoying some bit of relaxation and/or celebration as a (mostly) free birthday gift to myself .
I had everything planned for the perfect week. My husband was leaving town Friday for a five day/four night shoot in Mt. Whitney, which meant that I would have luxurious time alone to work or write or run or relax anytime the baby was asleep or elsewhere, and he would get home just in time for me to not feel lonely as I stared down the barrel at thirty-five. I enlisted the help of my mom to give me time on Saturday afternoon, scheduled the babysitter to give me time on Sunday morning, coordinated with my dad to help with the daycare commute during the week. I made appointments, made to do lists, made my off week exercise plan (in which I am not required to wake up at 5:30 in order to get in a run before work). My husband made a double batch of veggie chili, stocked the fridge with my favorite beers, and sent me text messages alerting me to when I needed to turn on any given baseball game in time to catch all the exciting developments.
Friday night was nice. I drank beer, watched tv that would elicit nothing but jeering had my husband been around, started cleaning out my den closet (the closet that became the repository for all things unplaceable after our move last summer). I did some non-blog-related writing (what a treat!), did some non-school-related reading. I got a jump on some of my word for the coming week. I was so productive and so relaxed that I stayed up way too late, but figured the baby would give me a couple extra hours in bed in the morning, since she herself had gone to sleep later than usual. Bad assumption. She was up bright and early (though I’m not really sure where this saying comes from, because in my world, if it’s bright outside when I wake up that usually means I’ve fallen into a coma or something really terrible has happened to make me sleep through my alarm).
Despite the early rise, Saturday started well. Koukla helped me make eggs, smeared melted cheese all over her hair, got dressed for music class without resistance, banged drums and shook shakers with the best of them. After class Koukla went to Yia Yia’s house, while I ran toddler-free errands, cleaned the house without a child or husband spilling anything in the vacuum’s wake, and plowed through nearly ten pages of my thesis (only 90 pages left to go!). After Koukla came home, we changed, snacked, and snuggled, then decided to take a tricycle ride to the park. Which was awesome. Until she got off her tricycle and was limping like Tiny Tim.
I let Koukla convince me to stay at the park with her excuse that she wasn’t hurt, she was just “walking like a silly elephant,” which I thought maybe was a game she had learned at school. But pretty soon I wasn’t buying her excuses and our tricycle outing turned into me walking home with an unhappy toddler under one arm and a jingly jangly tricycle under my other arm.
The limp was worse in the morning. Instead of going for a run and writing another twenty pages of my thesis, the babysitter was cancelled, Pappou and Yia Yia called, and off to urgent care we went. Three hours, two exams, and one x-ray later, we went home with an ace bandage and instructions to follow up in a few days.
Monday was my mother’s birthday. I had hoped to take her to lunch, maybe a manicure, maybe a shopping stroll down South Lake Avenue. Instead I dropped the baby off with her and went home to sleep. Not to work on my paper. Not to relax. Not to read up on accreditation standards for NASAD, NASM, or NAST (there is nothing we registrars love more than a good acronym). To sleep. Because on Sunday night, the baby would not go to bed. She missed her dad. Her foot was hurting. She was generally feeling funky. And so the only way to get her to sleep was to sleep next to her, on the floor, with a too flat pillow and a too stiff blanket and a sound machine whirring in my ear. The next morning the baby was still limping, which meant no daycare. So my mom, to celebrate her 65th birthday, did something that was probably not too far off from what she did to celebrate her 35th birthday – care for an unwell child.
After eating, showering, taking a short, restless rest, I sat down to work. Almost immediately my phone started to buzz. Now Koukla had a fever, so to the doctor we went. Fever, lethargy, slight rash, sensitive eyes, sore right foot. Koukla was a mess.
Correctly anticipating the long night ahead, I set up the air mattress next to her crib with clean sheets, soft blankets, perfect pillows. Two hours later Koukla was throwing up all over it. Koukla was a mess, and now so was I, literally.
After cleaning up the bed, the baby, and myself, I managed a few hours of fitful sleep on the air mattress with ill-fitting sheets and dusty blankets from the Goodwill box. I finally woke to the Koukla standing over me saying “Mommy, it’s time to get up please,” feeling a million times better, ready to rumble. I, on the other hand, was so very much worse for the wear.
Yesterday my husband came home. Tomorrow is my birthday. Today the decompression began. And all I want for my birthday is to go back to work!