Being a mum and working full time is hard. During the week I see Toby for about half and hour in the morning when I get him up, dressed and dropped off at nursery. Thirty minutes where he’s often crying because I’ve had to wake him up at 6:30 am and I have to wrestle him into a clean nappy and clothes. Thankfully these days we rarely have tears when I drop him off at nursery but our mornings aren’t exactly enjoyable for either of us.
In the evening Barry picks Toby up at 4:30 pm after he’s had his tea at nursery. I usually get home from work at about 5 pm and have about an hour of play time before we have to put Toby in bed because he’s absolutely exhausted.
So during the week I see Toby for a grand total of seven and a half hours, while other people look after him for forty-seven and a half hours. I know he enjoys nursery, which is something at least, but it doesn’t stop me feeling sad and guilty that he’s not at home with me. Instead, I’m doing a job I don’t even like most of the time, looking after other people’s children, trying to teach them something they have no interest in learning.
And all this is bad enough when it’s going well. But on Thursday last week Toby fell, banging his ear on the edge of a table leaving a cut and a big bruise. The next day he crawled head first into a door stop and bumped his forehead. (And a few weeks ago he fell onto a table again, leaving a straight line bruise right across his cheek.) Then on Friday evening I noticed he wasn’t putting the heel of his right foot down. I thought it was a bit strange but decided to leave it overnight and see if he was still doing it on Saturday morning. Lying in bed that night I realised I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen him walk. He fell on Thursday and I couldn’t remember if I’d seen him walk on Thursday evening. My own child and I can’t even remember if he was walking or not. According to nursery he was walking while he was there on Friday, but if so something must have happened on Friday afternoon because he wasn’t walking by the time I picked him up.
I know all of these falls and injuries could just have easily have happened if he was at home with me. I know toddlers get bumps and bruises. But it doesn’t stop me feeling guilty. It doesn’t stop me thinking that if he had been with me then maybe he would be OK, or maybe at least I would have seen what had happened and we wouldn’t have such a mystery on our hands.
Because despite a trip to our local minor injuries unit on Saturday, a visit to our GP and to A & E today and two lots of x-rays, no-one can tell us what might be wrong with Toby or why he has stopped walking. They can’t see any breaks on the x-rays, he is still crawling and climbing, he is still putting weight on his bad leg and he doesn’t really seem to be in any pain. But he just won’t put his heel down so he has no balance to walk. So all we can do is wait. Give him Calpol and Nurofen and hope it improves on its own and if he’s still not better in a week we have to go back to A & E.
And while we wait I have to try not to let the guilt take over. I feel awful. I don’t want to take Toby to nursery tomorrow, to hand over the care of my child to other people so that in turn I can look after other people’s children. It doesn’t make any sense. And I’m so bloody tired. Toby still doesn’t sleep well. If we’re lucky there might be one wake up during the night, but more often there are two or three. It doesn’t help that he’s going through phase of only wanting me to comfort him so I have to be the one to get up to him. I just feel like I’m not doing anything properly at the moment. I’m being pulled in too many directions so I’m not doing my best at anything; being a mum, a wife, a teacher, a blogger even! I can do them all better than I am right now, but I can’t do better and do them all. But I have to. For the moment at least I have no other option. I just have to take a deep breath and keep on keeping on.
Apologies for the brain dump. I feel a bit better now.