Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where have all of my sick days gone?

Picture this. You’re in the doctor’s office for the umpteenth time this month. Your concern is why your child continues to pick up every single thing that comes and goes. As you wait you can’t imagine having to wrestle with a 19-month-old and a syringe full of medicine again, but you dread the thought that it may be a virus that can be helped by nothing except time. You replay the days ensuring that you’ve relentlessly washed hands and wiped off shopping carts and wonder why this continues to happen. You have legitimate concern over how many doses of antibiotics one child can take without ruining her teeth. (Can that really happen by the way?) After the diagnosis of yet another infection the doctor says, “She is in daycare, right?” But it’s really more of a statement than a question. They’ve seen you enough to know you on a first name basis. You sigh and nod, sitting there feeling a combination of utter frustration and guilt.

My daughter has been enrolled in two daycares. Both, while not perfect, (what is?) have been extremely clean. I would know; I’m a tad obsessive about things like that. I’ve watched teachers work tirelessly to keep kids’ hands washed and pick up toys that have made it into mouths. Still, I’ve made enough $25 co-pays for sick doctor visits to have added a small fortune to my sweet baby’s college fund. Regardless of which doctor we see or the diagnosis, daycare seems to always be the culprit according to the MD.

Is daycare really always to blame? Are the other toddlers this sick too and am I just not paying enough attention? My daughter has caught the normal virus here and there, had tonsillitis a couple of times, a few bouts with croup, RSV, hand, foot and mouth disease (who knew that this is actually real?), ear infection after ear infection which ultimately resulted in the addition of ear tubes and the removal of adenoids, bronchitis, pink eye, crazy fevers and the list goes on and on. My guilt continues to multiply with each ailment and doctor visit. The assumption is, even if it’s indirect, that because I choose to work outside the home my child will be sick. I hate the feeling that I have somehow brought this on her. I wonder if the doctor truly believes this too or if I’m just that paranoid. I obviously don’t choose my job over my child. Working is my reality, and the truth is I enjoy what I do and am proud of it. Don’t get me wrong. If I suddenly won the lottery (too bad I don’t play) I would stay at home. Well, not at home exactly, my daughter and I would do lunch and visit museums and the zoo and parks and shop everyday. And I’d make an excellent volunteer. But, again, that’s not my reality, so we’ll just do all of those wonderful things on the weekends.

To keep my sanity I’ve researched and read repeatedly that quality daycares help children learn, become more social and overall be more well-rounded individuals. If you’ve heard otherwise please be kind and just keep that to yourself. As for me, I’ll keep moving forward, building even better relationships with everyone at my pediatric office and local pharmacy. And I’ll know that in a few years my child will develop a superhero resistance to germs and will most likely receive a perfect attendance award in kindergarten.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mmmm...that 30 minute meal sounds great; too bad I don't have any groceries.

I'm a foodie. I love to cook, and I love to eat. I used to make a lot of things from scratch--salad dressings, pizza dough, pasta sauces, pesto, granola, different types of rubs, salsa, and I made most of my daughter's baby food. It was my hobby, and I'd laugh at the Sandra Lee/Semi-Homemade way wondering who in their right mind would use taco seasoning mix. Ha! I've recently discovered that taco seasoning mix can help me make some good and fast fish tacos.

My evenings have gone from cooking something wonderful and sitting down to late dinners with my husband to managing to get something on the table as close to 6pm as possible. My daughter's head starts to spin around by about 6:15pm, and there's no cheddar slice or apple wedge that will tide her over. The girl knows the difference between a snack and a meal. It's in her blood.

I know I'll eventually go back to making more from scratch, but for now I’m in dinner survival mode. What can I make that's nutritious, good, different, fast and easy? And what do I have in the fridge and pantry? When did actually making it to the grocery store once a week become such a challenge?

As I’m figuring my way through the “semi-homemade” way I’ve learned a few tricks. Here’s a quick list of a few things I’d never buy before but that have now found their way into my world and onto my grocery list…whenever I can actually make it to the store.

1) Frozen pizza dough (especially Real NY Pizza Dough) is good, and you just need to set it out before you head to work.
2) Paul Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette isn't the goodness of homemade, but it'll do.
3) Prewashed lettuce/salad bags are a must. (If you ever want to eat a salad again it’s worth the extra cost.)
4) Frozen cheese and spinach ravioli (Did you know you can use this to make a quick lasagna? It’s true!)
5) Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Ready Rice (90 seconds in the microwave really beats an hour on the stove.)

I love the quote: "Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life." Right now, my time is better spent outside of the kitchen.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Oh how I thought I was busy...before I had a child

I'm working like a mad woman to be the best mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and employee that I can be. That's really all I know how to do because I'm a Type A personality with a pretty hard core competitive spirit. I'm learning though (slowly but surely) that balance is the key, but I just haven't quite mastered that part yet. If another woman stood before me and told me that you can be a fantastic, dedicated mother, have a strong marriage with the fires still burning, be at the top of your field, manage multiple, true friendships, stay in shape, have a spotless home and prepare delicious and healthy meals for your family and still come out truly happy, I'd smile and say, "Congratulations!" (because I'm a polite, southern lady like that), but I'd know she was lying. Unless she had a staff of about 12 of course.

Can you have it all? A true, harmonic work/life balance in the 21st century? I want it least I think I do. And I wake up every day trying to achieve it. What I'm learning, however, is that sometimes you have to let a thing or two go, including the guilt, and just be happy.

Thanks for joining me on my journey, and please share your advice and stories along the way. Maybe we can help each other make things a little less momplicated and get better at this crazy wonderful juggling act called life.