At the tender age of 4 months old, there have only been 3 or so times The Duchess has had minor ‘incidents’ which have caused her no serious harm whatsoever, but have culminated in scratches, scrapes, bumps and a few tears. Usually those tears end up in smiles only minutes later, but there is still something about knowing that I accidentally caused injury or harm to my child, whether directly or indirectly, that weighs on my soul like a 2 tonne elephant. It’s Mummy Guilt. It’s like that ‘boo boo’ is looking me in the eye, judging me, telling me where I went wrong. It’s not rational, I know. It’s not founded on anything particular, it’s just there.
Case and point. A couple of days ago The Role Mama, her husband and two gorgeous children were over for a takeaway. The men went out to hunt and gather from the local curry house, while the women stayed back with the kids. I sat next to the The Duchess and her British best friend while they played on the floor. It was at this point that the men returned and our Chocolate Labrador, who wouldn’t hurt a fly, (in fact, he’d probably try to befriend it) bolted for the door to greet them. In the process, he nearly knocked over our two year old godson and as I went to catch him, the dog went by the babies. At no point did I see any contact made with either of them, but The Duchess, with her face down in the carpet, burst into uncontrollable sobs. I thought it was just the dog’s boisterousness that had alarmed her, but as I picked her up and looked at her screwed up face, I saw a cut with a trickle of blood coming from below her left eye. At first I felt panic, because I wasn’t sure how deep it was and was surprised anything had happened at all. Once I wiped the blood away and saw it was only a surface scratch, the panic subsided, but Mummy Guilt set in. “I should have put the dog in another room…” (even though he was very calm until that point). “I shouldn’t have put The Duchess on the floor,” (um, yeah because it’s rational to keep her in your lap AT ALL TIMES). “I should wrap her in bubble wrap,” (but then the other babies would push her over and try to ‘pop’ her all of the time.)
Her scratch is healing quickly and honestly doesn’t look that bad, but every time I look at it I can’t help but feel that tinge of Mummy Guilt somewhere deep in my soul. Of course, it’s even worse when I take her out in public. I pray that a stranger doesn’t ask me, ‘What happened to your baby’s eye!?’ and breath a sigh of relief when I arrive home, soul unscathed, having not had to explain that my giant Labrador somehow clawed my baby’s face (yeeeeeeeeah).
Maybe Mummy Guilt extends to Daddies, and Grandparents, and Aunties and Uncles, too. Or maybe it’s a part of being a mom. Maybe it eventually wears off. Maybe it’s just me and I’m too sensitive about these things, but I suspect I’m not the only one and that it may linger in the years to come.