If Baby-Bel kept a diary, the entry today would no doubt read ‘Worst day of my little life’. And not in a ‘teenage angst, every day is the worst day of my life, the world and its dog is knitting a conspiracy theory against me’, sort of way but genuinely so.
It all started fairly innocuously. An event-free trip to the supermarket where Baby-Bel screamed vociferously when the time came to pay for my shopping and I had to forcefully remove a red pepper from her vice-like grip – mortifying yes yet, unfortunately, fairly mundane. A stroll to Starbucks where she insisted on pilfering a collection of their straws and cup lids – I wondered at which point they would begin charging for them as ‘extras’ like a shot of espresso or flavoured syrup.
Despite having thought about little else all weekend, I had ironically forgotten that Baby-Bel was booked in for her MMR in the afternoon. I have been plagued by paranoia after a mummy friend sparked concerns over its links with autism, stoking the irrational and usually dormant side of my personality. To be fair, it reared its ugly head last week too when I was convinced she was suffering from a bout of swine flu – Mr A naturally, and rationally, told me I was being crazy in as nice a way as possible but I assure you this is the sort of behaviour that comes from too long without the sanity gleaned from gainful employment and regular daytime adult interaction.
I think it’s fair to say the nurse actually mocked me when I voiced my concerns. Feeling small, rather stupid and still nerves a jangle, I distracted a suspicious-looking Baby-Bel from the proceedings ahead. She flailed and screamed with a might that belied her size. I suddenly felt nauseous and was actually sweating, with anxiety as well as the exertion requeired to restrain her – about the same level of perspiration brought on by a gentle warm up jog. With each scream I wanted to join in with a chorus line.
And then came jab number two. I doubt Baby-Bel will ever be trustful of me again. But at least we could go home now and resume our normal tear-free day.
Not so. While complacently basking in my success at distracting her from the memory of wrestling with pointy needles, I took my eye off the ball. Tottering around in the ungainly gait which she is currently wont, she stumbled and fell face first, splitting her top lip on her front teeth. The fault rests rigidly with me (I should and could have pre empted it with all that supposed maternal instinct right?). More unforgiveable is that, in the interim between her immediately beginning to cry and my discovery of her mouth full of blood, my initial assumption was she was just being a drama queen. I’m a terrible, undeserving mother – worse than Cinderella’s non-bio version. I half expect the door bell to ring and child services to serve me a warrant.
So now she looks like a victim of botched botox. She keeps pressing her lips together in a soundless ‘ma ma ma’ sound – presumably because the fat lip feels alien. Either that or she is miming her silent accusations in my direction.
As if it is insufficient to undergo the self flagellation of my own torturous guilt, I am also dreading the recriminations from Mr A when he returns and sees The Lip in all its purple inflated glory. Well, if it had happened while under his sole supervision, I know at whose door I would be laying the blame – and with all the combined weight of a stack of Yellow Pages at that. While drying her hair after her bath I wonder how best to style it so as to hide the evidence of the afternoon’s incriminations – how about all brushed forward to cover her entire face, in a warped interpretation of a comb-over? That should about do the job.
But I know I am unfairly tarnishing Mr A with my small-minded brush. He will tell me that accidents happen, especially when wobbly legged toddlers are involved and that I am in no way to blame. Still, I can’t help but think a better mother wouldn’t have to spend the next week staring at the error of her ways as punishment for her misdemeanour. Life might be full of sharp edges but none sharper than the pang of guilt.