It was going to happen sooner or later. It was today. My PA came into my office to tell me baby M's nursery were on the phone. My first thought was of course 'I hope she's alright', my second was 'oh no, my diary is back to back this week'. A brief conversation informed me that baby M had a temperature and probably conjunctivitis; I should get a doctor's appointment. They'd be happy for her to stay until after nap, but then she'd need to go to the doctor's and get eye treatment in order to be able to attend.
Of course, I called the doctor's straightaway. They had an appointment within the hour, or one in three and a half hours. I took the latter in order to have time to reschedule my diary and sort out some matters of urgency. I wouldn't have done so if the nursery hadn't said she seemed fine in herself, but does it make me a bad mummy anyway? Thankfully baby M slept for two of the three hours between the call and my collecting her. But nonetheless I felt guilty for that decision. I still do.
The doctor's appointment confirmed the nursery's diagnosis. No treatment required... just bathe every 30 minutes and it will pass in days. My face must have given away what I was thinking, as the practitioner quickly followed up with 'unless you want treatment, so you can send her to nursery?'. Clearly I'm not the only mummy to have been in this position. 'Yes please, I'd like the treatment so that she can go to nursery.' As I was waiting for the prescription, baby M was upset and grumpy. She needed to be at home, not queuing for a prescription. Later on, as Mr MBAW and I pinned her down to administer the ointment, I felt guilty for the decision to medicate. I still do.
And now, baby M is In bed and I'm hoping she sleeps well so that she is well enough to go to nursery. I have another full day tomorrow. It is of course Sod's law that baby M is poorly this week, when nanny and grandad are on holiday and daddy is off to a conference in London. Of course, if she's poorly I will keep her at home and take a day off to care for my dependent. But then I'll feel a different sort of guilt, for missing work. And that's it. Ultimately I will feel guilty whatever the outcome.
I'm not the first to feel this way either. As soon as I'd had baby M, I was surprised by the number of women that made comments along the lines of 'let the guilt begin!', as I began talking about my return to work, there was more of the same, and those women were absolutely right. Being a mummy means immediately entering a world of guilt. Guilt that you didn't eat well in pregnancy, couldn't birth naturally, took the pethidine, didn't breastfeed, drank wine and breastfed... the list just grows from the sound of that first cry. And the return to work is the biggest guilt trip of all. But I don't see why it should make us feel that way.
We live in a society where we're expected to mother and work, so why should we bear this terrible guilt? I'm not sure if it is a natural mothering predisposition or something developed by society, but I'll tell you one thing.... I don't like it! And here's what I'm going to do about it... the next time I sense a fellow mummy is taking a trip down guilt gully, I'm going to tell her that she has NOTHING to feel guilty about, and remind her of all the wonderful ways she is mothering her child. We mummies need to stick together, so next time you sense a fellow mummy guilt tripping, will you do the same?
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