Given my recent proclamation about how I felt okay about going back to work, I’m sure that what I’m about to say makes me sound like a woman who is too easily swayed, a woman lacking conviction, but this week has been tough. Tiring. Worrying. Frustrating. Tough.
Last week, we all sailed through my return to work without so much as a bump in the road – okay, maybe negligible speed bumps. We were tired and The Duchess started to get her first tooth, but there were no tears and no anxiety. In fact, when I dropped The Duchess off to the in-laws, her lip didn’t so much as wobble. I’m still trying to decide whether I’m going to take that personally or not.
But the weekend brought clingy behaviour and I wondered whether this was all going to be as easy as I first assumed.
On Tuesday she struggled and I struggled. I called to check in and could hear her sobbing. She wouldn’t settle for her naps. She hadn’t really slept well the night before. She was tired and she refused to give into it. Or so we thought, anyway. And here I was staring at a computer, trapped by the professional commitments of adulthood, rather than being there to offer her familiar world to her, to guide her through those quirky little habits that we have before nap-time that help her wind down.
But it was that night when she began to cry in her cot and The Native went in to console her that we realized she had been disturbed that day for reasons other than a change of routine. He carried her shivering little body into our room. She would occasionally let out a little groan of discomfort. Her burning skin radiated through her pyjamas, through my own clothes and onto my chest as I held her close. Her temperature spiked to above 40*/104*. I felt my worry start to consume me as we rushed through the house to find the thermometer, throwing the contents of bags and drawers onto the floor, in the hope that we could find this instrument that could tell us what we already knew; our baby was sick.
The thermometer never turned up. Figures. I could feel my emotions, my worry, my need to have a plan all spiralling out of control. I pleaded with The Native to run out and buy a thermometer because I needed to feel like we could do something. She just wouldn’t stop shivering.
We called NHS Direct (and it is so worth the 5p/minute people) and talked to a lovely and calm woman called Jan. I am convinced that Jan could end wars, stop political positioning, and eradicate world hunger in one fell swoop. She informed us that The Duchess would survive, that there were things we could to try to bring her temperature down, and that they were right there to allay my fears if I needed to call them back. And then I took a deep breath.
In my second week of work, on what was supposed to be my 5th day – I stayed at home with my sick baby. I napped with her when she needed it and cuddled her even when she didn’t need it. Then, when she finally went to sleep that night, I spent 3 hours trying to catch up on a deadline we were working towards. At 10.30, I had to stop and I had to choose to ignore the ironing pile that was growing and the washing that hadn’t been done, the floors that hadn’t been vaccuumed, and the broken window in the bathroom. Instead, I went to bed.
I guess this is the life of a working mother and I’m ready for the weekend in a way that I haven’t been in 10 months.