Packed Lunch, Gym shoes, Calpol.

We’ve all done it, cure haven’t we?  One of the littlies complains of a sore tummy or is a bit on the warm side and not too fussed for their Weetabix of a morning, but we pack up their school or nursery bag, dispense cuddles and a spoonful of Calpol and send them on their merry way. The reasons why we do this vary from person to person, but a recent poll by the Daily Mail indicated that just short of 30% of 2000 mums asked were concerned that taking time off because their child is poorly would result in them losing their job. If those numbers are anything to go by, I think I fall into the ‘very lucky’ category. My organisation makes provisions for the fact that as working parents, it is inevitable that at some point one of our offspring will be struck by dreaded lurgy and we need to be there for them at home. It doesn’t stop the feeling however that somehow, we’re in the wrong as working parents for wanting to be at home with our poorly children.

I’ve had many instances in the last four years where one or other of my brood have had an ailment of illness that has precluded them from going to school or nursery on the basis of them either being a) genuinely too poorly that I wouldn’t dream of letting them leave the house or b) slightly under the weather but sporting a runny enough nose / sticky enough eye / higher than normal temperature (despite being fine in every other way) that nursery won’t allow them across the threshold in case they start an epidemic.

Despite my boss being very understanding, and not a working parent herself,  I can’t help dreading having to tell her I can’t come in because one of the children is sick or that the nursery have called and simply insist that I collect a very hot and bothered two year old.  My boss trusts me and knows that I’m a big enough girl to know what I need to do to get the job done on those days where I just can’t be in the office, the buck stops with me at the end of the day if I don’t deliver what I need to. But I still can’t help feeling bad.

I do recall being back at work only five or six days after a year of maternity leave, and receiving a call from nursery – Little Monster Blue has conjunctivitis. Whilst my first and very natural response was a feeling of sorrow for my little man as its a yucky ailment and not very pleasant at all, I quickly moved to wondering how long I could get away with staying in the office before leaving  to collect him. Quite simply, I was afraid of telling my boss that I had to go.  I had absolutely no reason to be, but well, it just doesn’t look great, especially to my colleagues who have just seen me return from my year long ‘holiday’.

And to top it off, there has been many a time I’ve been called to collect a nipper who has been really under the weather and by the time I’ve gotten to nursery (and after a dose of Calpol) he’s running amok dressed up as a cowboy and swinging a pink leopard print handbag. Yes, really. Now I don’t for one second suggest that the carers at nursery shouldn’t have called, quite the opposite, I secretly believe this is my two-year olds way of getting me back for those mornings where a spoonful of Calpol has helped me get out the door and into the office when perhaps a longer morning at home filled with cuddles, cool drinks and CBeebies might have been the better option.

I have to confess also that I am guilt ridden when I think of the time where I played to the ‘off you pop, you’ll feel better when you get there’ approach when it was nursery photo day.  Poor Little Monster Blue was actually suffering from tonsillitis (though I absolutely didn’t know that at the time) and I have a photo collage full of prints of the little guy looking downright sorry for himself. Gulp. Bad mummy.

Yesterday we turned a corner.  Little Monster Blue is poorly once again (we’re not a disease ridden family generally, I do believe nursery breeds everything but the plague, and it is that time of year isn’t it?) but this time Super Daddy got the nursery call, and bless him he was there in a flash. This morning when it was clear that LMB would be banished from nursery if we dared take him anywhere near the place, Super Daddy donned the stay-at-home-parent mantle and I went to the office.  Sad though it is, there was something fairly empowering about me being able to say, yes I have a poorly child, but here I am. Aren’t I dedicated? Aren’t I committed? Look at me, I’m showing how much of a priority my work is to me.  I rang home ever hour to check how he was of course. I looked at the clock and gauged that he’d be finished watching his movie of choice (Tangled!) by now.  I ate my lunch wondering if the wee scone was able to manage his.  I dashed out of the door at home time, took my rightful place beside him on the sofa, and settled down for an afternoon of CBeebies.

And that made everyone feel better.

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