This is what was posted on my personal blog two years ago today. I am re-posting a lot of older posts because my personal blog was private and I am now willing to share some of these private posts with you. I remember this day well. I was tired, cranky and overwhelmed. Has anyone else had a day like this?
May 24th, 2012
Spaghetti is not a favorite meal in our house. (Actually, it’s hard to find any meal that all of us agree on!) Georgia & I like it, Matt & Dakota don’t. It is also one of those cheap, back-up meals that I have on hand for nights when there is nothing left in the cupboards, like tonight. But last week spaghetti and Hamburger Helper were both on sale. Matt & Dakota like Hamburger Helper but neither Georgia nor I eat hamburger, so I thought it would give everyone a change if I cooked both on the same night. That way 2 get one meal, 2 get the other and there will be enough leftovers for lunches the next day.
Now the problem with this idea? I only have one stove burner that works. Yup. Just one. (Which up until my birthday wasn’t really a big deal because I only had one pot to cook with, anyway!) We have a 4 burner electric stove. I can’t really complain – it was free. But the oven cooks 50 degrees higher (when it actually decides to work) and only one top burner heats up. How was I supposed to cook two meals with one burner?
I decided to cook the Hamburger Helper first. The hamburger was frozen and I knew it would take a bit longer. Plus, if it cooled off too much before we ate it, it was easier to reheat than spaghetti noodles. Since we eat supper at 6:00 I started the hamburger at 4:30, thinking this would give me plenty of time.
The hamburger was a big, frozen ball. Even with a cover over the frying pan (I don’t actually have a cover for the frying pan – I used another frying pan on top.) the hamburger was still not fully cooked an hour later. By the time Matt got home from work I had just added the noodles and sauce. By 6:00 it was still a soupy mess.
And I was getting grumpy.
I was grumpy that the house was still a mess even though I had attempted to clean. I was grumpy that I hadn’t been able to finish anything I had started all day. I was cranky that the baby (who had been nursing constantly all day) was over tired and refused to go to sleep. I was cranky that because the baby was constantly nursing, and at odd times, I ended up eating burnt eggs for breakfast and burnt nuggets for lunch. I was looking forward to a big yummy plate of spaghetti. I was grumpy that it was the first day of that “lovely time of month”. And I was grumpy that at 6:15 meal #1 was still not fully cooked and meal number 2 wasn’t even started.
By 6:30 (2 hours after starting that darn hamburger!) the Hamburger Helper was finally finished. Matt, who had been outside working on the lawn while waiting for supper, took one look at it and declared. “I’m not really that hungry. I’ll eat later.” And walked back out to mow the lawn. Dakota (who had spent the afternoon at her grandmothers and apparently eaten there) also decided that she wasn’t really hungry.
REALLY?? I spent 2 hours cooking a meal that no one was going to eat! GRRRRRRR
Georgia, who had had a late nap, was asking when her “basghetti” was going to be ready because she was hungry.
I put the Hamburger Helper aside and started the water for the spaghetti. The baby was fussing to nurse again. Dakota was rambling on about her latest boy band crush and I was only half listening as I tried to keep an eye on Georgia, who had decided to run outside to play while she waited for her “basghetti”. The dishes still had to be done, the laundry had to be switched over, the grocery list had to be written up, I had to run to the store for a few things, the baby had to be washed up….
I was grumpy.
Finally, after nursing the baby who still refused to sleep, watching Georgia play for a bit on the slide and asking Dakota to repeat what she had said so I could actually listen, the spaghetti was ready. As I was draining the noodles I yelled for Georgia to come in. She decided that she wanted her spaghetti plain (with butter instead of sauce) but she went under the cupboard to get the sauce for me. Under the cupboard she noticed the box of leftover uncooked spaghetti. Excitedly, she pulled the box out – “Look Momma! There’s MORE basghetti!!” – only to hold the already opened box upside down. The entire box of uncooked spaghetti fell onto the dirty, yet-to-be-swept-today, kitchen floor.
I wanted to yell. I wanted to cry. I wanted to be depressed and grumpy and angry and frustrated.
Spaghetti may be cheap – but we still couldn’t afford to waste it!
Then Georgia laughed. She laughed at the sight of all of that wasted spaghetti all over the floor. She laughed at the sound it made as she stepped on it with her rubber boots. She laughed as she picked it up and tossed it into the air.
I could have yelled. I could have cried. I could have gotten frustrated with her and told her all about the already tight grocery budget. I could have told her to stop playing. Yelled at her to go sit down and eat her supper.
But instead, I realized that this was a learning opportunity. I realized that at 3 1/2 years old she had never played with dry spaghetti. She had never listened to the sound it made when you broke it in half. She had never felt it. She had never tasted it.
So instead of yelling, I smiled.
And then I asked her:
How does it feel?
How does it taste?
How does it sound when you break it in two? Or when you step on it with your boots?
Is it hard or soft?
Here – compare it to a cooked piece of spaghetti. Does it feel the same? Sound the same? Look the same? Taste the same?
How can we clean it up? Let’s count the pieces as we pick them up.
Do you choose to use the broom or the dust pan?
The baby eventually fell asleep, we finally ate plain spaghetti (at 7:00) and I tried very hard not to be grumpy the rest of the night. We sat and ate supper together – just the two of us – we went to the store for popsicles, we watched TV together, we read a bedtime book and snuggled before bed.
And I saved some of that dry spaghetti for another time. For her to explore on another day. Does anyone have any good craft or sensory ideas? How would you play with dry spaghetti noodles? What would you create?
Looking back, I would love to be able to say that I have changed. That I no longer get grumpy; that I no longer feel overwhelmed. But the truth is, I still have these days. We all have these days. The challenge is to find the positive in all of the frustration. Find the learning opportunity in the mess, the smile among the clouds. And, luckily, we eventually bought a new stove. Now I have four working burners and a great oven, so hopefully this same incident won’t happen again.
How about you? Have there been any situations you have found yourself in that you just want to yell or cry, but instead found the positive? Please share below in the comments. I look forward to reading everyone’s stories.