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Wednesday, 19 July 2006

the working mother's guide to guilt, chapter 1


Crazy thoughts run through my head on a fairly regular basis. I tend to chalk them up to sleep deprivation, hormones, or a combination of the two. For example, I was watching a report on obesity in Britain and I remembered my recurring fear of seeing my wobbly abdomen in one of those incidental shots of fat people they always show in reports like this. "Today, British people are gaining at an alarming rate." [shot of obese person in a crop top and tracksuit bottoms, man with an exposed beer belly, and me shopping unawares in Tesco wearing a particularly unflattering pair of skinny jeans.]

What was I on about? Right, crazy thoughts. Anyway, so this morning I noticed that Jack was slightly grubby but we were running so late that I couldn't give him a bath. Then I wondered if the workers at the nursery would notice and if they would think I'm a bit of a Bad Mum for letting my child get grubby. Not that the other children there are pristine, mind you; most of them have permanently runny noses. Still, I sometimes wonder if my intermittent laziness is detectable by others.

The manager of the nursery rang me today and wanted to know when Jack last had a poo. The funny thing is, I don't even flinch at stuff like this anymore. I knew where she was going with this because he was straining with all his toddler might yesterday and today. So then I started feeling bad for sending my son to nursery when he's in a constipated state, and then I started feeling bad for not being there to hold his little sweaty head in my arms. I abandoned my slightly muddy, scrambled egg-covered, poo-filled son for work. Bad Mother.

For all the posts I write about my dispair with the "Yummy Mummy Syndrome" (i.e. the inability of society to accept the fact that most of us are fat, tired, and not at all interested in Stella McCartney's latest line of thigh-high vegetarian boots), I often fall victim to my own feelings of guilt. Because being a mother, if anything else, is mostly about guilt: either experiencing it yourself or inflicting it on your children at a later date.

So here I sit, waiting for a phone call from someone to let me know if Jack managed to squeeze out a poo or if I need to take him to see the doctor. If anyone thinks the life of a working mum is glamorous, they are sorely mistaken. Yummy Mummy, my arse.

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