Coughs and sneezes spread diseases. That was always the message when I was little. I have always prided myself on having a robust immune system, and have always been irrationally annoyed by people who always seem to be ill or who keep boxes of tissues in their living room. As it turns out my immune system is about as strong as the Greek economy, and our household is apparently single-handedly keeping Kleenex afloat.
By the time my daughter was 10 months old she had suffered from about 4 high fevers, chicken pox, German measles and hand foot and mouth disease, this in addition to about 100 colds and 3 or 4 unexplained rashes. She’s no weakling and runs around happily spreading her germs around the house when she is poorly, while I sit on the settee coughing and spluttering and bemoaning the fact that I will have to take more time off work to look after her. The question at the back of mind- scratch that- constantly on my lips is “where the hell did she catch it”. The inevitable response is “nursery”, but actually that isn’t always the case. None of her little friends seem to be ill at the same time as her, and when they fall ill she doesn’t. It’s so strange. Meanwhile, when I get ill the perpetrator is always easily identifiable as the idiot who stumbles into work coughing his guts up in order to try and present the right image to the boss (n.b. – if you work for me I am most definitely not impressed by your disgusting germs).
Another thing that I find really odd is that despite her constant snotty nose her philtrum (the bit between her nose and top lip) is never red. When I get a cold and wipe my nose it goes raw, followed afterwards by an attractive dry patch as my skin tries to recover. Perhaps I am an aggressive self-wiper but despite wiping her nose constantly it never goes red. And her energy is something to behold. When I am ill (not that I am allowed to be ill anymore) I need things. I need the settee. I need a duvet. I need Dallas. I need soup. When Hannah is ill she needs things too. She needs her trampoline. She needs more banana. She needs to pick up every bloody thing on the table. She needs to run around hiding everything that used to be on said table.
In short it turns out that I am not, in fact, robust at all. I have allowed colds and diseases to master me. I even welcome them sometimes as I have an excuse- nay a reason- to rest. Hannah, meanwhile, continues on her merry way refusing to be beaten by influenza and the like. I suppose there is a lesson there for me, but for now I will return to my comfy chair and JR.
I’m coming to realise that being a mum requires you to constantly balance what you feel guilty about. Last week I felt guilty that I’d left James with my mum while I went to work. What if she doesn’t really want to take care of him? What if James thinks I don’t love him any more? What if I haven’t kept the house clean enough and they both hate it? So many what-ifs. As it turned out they had a lovely day trundling off to my mum’s and back and James was so pleased to see me when I can home that I melted in the doorway and cried all over him.
So where are we this week? Well it’s my second KIT day and I am currently feeling guilty that I’m pleased to be going in to work. I don’t care that the house is messy, I’m not all that worried about how my mum’s feeling and James was a happy little chap this morning so that’s all good. Why so blasé? A teething coldy baby will do that to you. After 2 hours spent getting him to go to sleep last night I was definitely looking forward to work this morning (bleary though I am).
So there it is. I’m happy to be getting away from the responsibility of managing his little self. Mid morning today I will be sat at a desk or getting a coffee or chatting about giant fixed structures in the North Sea. I won’t be rocking him in the pram, singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and willing him to stop poking his fingers in his ears. I won’t spend the subsequent hour praying that no one rings the doorbell, telephones or pushes anything through the letterbox. I will be free!
Yes I feel guilty, but I’m pretty sure that every mum feels guilty about something all of the time. It’s all a balancing act.
I always swore I wouldn’t be one of those mothers who run to the doctor just because their baby has sneezed, but I have to say that Hannah has seen more of the doctor in 5 months than I have in 5 years. Well not quite. She is, after all, a baby who needs check ups and jabs and so on. Aside from those I feel I can justify those visits. The first time was about 4 months ago when she hadn’t pooed for 2 days- everything I had been told previously suggested that this wasn’t normal and that she should be doing a number 2 at least twice per day. Nonsense. Hannah’s record is 5 days and it’s nothing to worry about. The second time was yesterday. She’d had a cold for a couple of days and had also been coughing, to the extent she couldn’t sleep (and to be honest I couldn’t either and feel rubbish myself). I felt a bit stupid going to the doctor with a cold, but it was the Friday before a bank holiday and my little girl had been valiantly struggling to sleep for 3 days without much success. So I was pleased when she was prescribed antibiotics- my poor little baby’s suffering will soon be over and not before time. As I type I am sitting in the back seat of our car with her on my way to visit my parents for the weekend. I can’t wait- the thought of 2 days of rest is so exciting I might wee.