As weeks go, I've had a pretty sh***y one last week, one of those that you just want to get done and over with and which has really tested me and the juggling act that is being a working mummy.
Alex fell ill with some kind of virus, or possibly even several, and came down with a fever, as well as diarrhoea, epic vomiting and gallons of snot. It first started on Wednesday, when he woke up with a high temperature. It’s never a good time for your child to get ill, but that week, out of all, was a pretty bad one (probably even worse than when Becky got the chickenpox on my first day back after maternity leave!).
We’re in the middle of our busy season and it was also my print deadline for my magazine, my big relaunch issue in fact, which my team and I have been working on for months and which is a big deal for us. A trip to London for meetings the day before had left me behind on my workload, and I was super busy trying to play catch up. Stressed doesn’t even cover it.
So what do you do? I gave Alex a dose of Calpol, which seemed to perk him up a bit, stripped him down and gave him tons to drink, and after a while, when he seemed better and his temperature had gone down, I had no choice but to drive him to nursery and get back to work.
I'm not one to normally feel guilty about being a working mummy (I will cover this in a different post soon), but there isn’t much that makes you feel more like the mother from hell than bringing your child to nursery when it’s ill. It pulls on your heart strings and goes against all your maternal instincts.
At least I knew that he was just a few minutes up the road in my village – I work from home the majority of the time - and if he took a turn for the worse, I would be able to pick him up in a flash. I was half expecting a phone call from nursery all day, which – thankfully – never came, as he had been asleep most of the afternoon, but when I picked him up, he looked really rough.
We got through the night somehow, and the next morning he looked terrible still. I decided to keep him home for the morning, as he was due his nap anyway, gave him a dose of Calpol (thank heavens for Calpol!) and he slept through for nearly three hours, which allowed me to get on with work. When he woke, he seemed chirpy enough, so I drove him up to nursery. Again, he was fine for the afternoon, as he slept lots, but by the time I picked him up, he was really rough once more and I could tell instantly that his fever had shot up. I knew that he was deteriorating, and that I wouldn’t be able to – and wouldn’t want to – send him to nursery the next day. But I still had my deadline, and I was still behind with my workload!
Luckily, John was able to step in and take the day off to look after him, but when your child cries and he wants is Mummy, you still can’t switch off, can you? To top it all off, Becky had her induction lunch at school on Friday, too, so whilst I was frantically trying to finish my magazine off, as well as help John with Alex, I also had to take Becky to the lunch, as it was something that she had been looking forward to for weeks and was super excited about.
So that’s been my week – and the weekend was equally intense, in fact, with Alex only slowly recovering and being very clingy and whiny, it was equally as tough.
It’s left me really exhausted, mentally drained and full of bad conscience and guilt. Guilt not just towards my kids, but also guilt towards my work. I hate feeling like I’m letting my family down, and I hate feeling like I’m letting work down, but the reality is that my family is more vulnerable, more needy, more in need of me, and sometimes you just can’t juggle both – sometimes, something has got to give.
I work full time, but I’m also a full time mother. Being a mother is a full time job in itself, there isn’t that part time option. And sometimes being a Mum – rightfully – consumes everything.
Today, I sent Alex back to nursery. He’s better now, not hundred per cent, but better, and whilst I was typing away at my computer, tidying up loose ends on my issue, I was checking my phone all the time, listening out for that dreaded phone call from nursery – which luckily never came. Alex was fine, no more temperature, vomiting or diarrhoea.
But I still feel torn and drained and a bit of a failure.