Today I drove to work in tears. Tears of anger, tears of frustration, tears of guilt, tears of exhaustion.
I'll set the scene...
LittleBear has a lurgy. Fever, coughs, chills, runny nose, general misery.
BigBear has been almost incapacitated with The Mystery Foot Injury (probably sunburn, followed by compression in shoes leading to extensive bruising.) BigBear has also had a lurgy, followed by a brief glimpse of the potential of no-lurgy, before succumbing to another bout of lurgy.
I have far too much to do at work, and going on holiday didn't do much to improve the situation.
I am succumbing to a lurgy, currently stalled at swolled glands and tedious dry cough.
Last night I got up three times - the first time (midnight) because LittleBear was coughing and crying, though it turned out my poor baby was doing both in his sleep. The second time (4:30am) because LittleBear had finished the water in this bottle and wanted some more. The third time (5:30am) because I heard LittleBear call out to me, and dashed into his room, only to find him fast asleep. I still don't know if I dreamt it, or he cried out in his sleep. Either way, I still hauled myself out of bed for no reason, and (to add insult to injury) I didn't go back to sleep again between then and 7, when a small boy trotted into my room and announced in his whiniest voice that he didn't want to go to nursery, as it's the "horriblest thing ever". Being the evil-tempered bitch that I am, I offered no sympathy and informed him he had no choice. You see? This is why I'm not having another child. Deprive me of sleep and I become foul to everyone near me. I become someone I don't want to be, certainly someone a poorly little boy doesn't deserve as a mother.
By the time I'd got LittleBear dressed and fed, BigBear had also managed to surface, appearing about as healthy as his son. It seemed highly unlikely that either were in a fit state to do anything of much use, so BigBear went back to bed and I took LittleBear to nursery and myself to work. And as I drove I was overcome:
... overcome with guilt and shame that I was leaving my son with other people when he was sick, just so I could go to work. I was placing work over the wellbeing of my beautiful, trusting, loving little child, and I hate myself for doing so.
... overcome with total exhaustion, having looked after said sick child for the past few days, having been woken through the night for the past two nights, and knowing that if I stayed home with him I'd carry on being the foul, bad-tempered, intolerant mother he'd found first thing this morning. And overcome with misery and frustration that I couldn't be who he needs me to be, and guilt that I so desperately wanted the break from that particular responsibility that only work could give me.
... overcome with rage that my only option when my boy is sick is to take time off work or to leave him with a nursery. Rage that BigBear has the temerity to be ill at the same time, and wouldn't look after him today. And then BigBear phoned and said I should bring LittleBear home at lunctime - as long as he could sleep this morning, he could look after LittleBear in the afternoon. Which at least eased some of the burden of misery.
So I worked all morning, collected my sad little child from nursery at lunchtime, left him with his sickly father for the afternoon and returned from work at the end of the day to find the two of them contendedly watching penguins on television with a telltale heap of lego at their feet.
Then LittleBear refused to eat the toast he'd asked for because "it tastes funny". And he refused to eat the cheese sandwich he requested as an alternative because "it's crunchy" (no, I don't know, I tried it, it was fine.) And then PhysicsBear, with aching predicatability, got cross about food. Because I have this memory of when he was 18 months old and got a cold. Before that point he'd eat anything. Afterwards? We hit the realm of no meat, no sauce, no normal children's food. And in my perverse way, I've always lingeringly blamed it on the cold. And now here he is, with a cold, refusing to eat food he loves and all I can think is "Nooooooo! If you give up eating this now, you may never eat it again, and we CANNOT lose toast and cheese sandwiches from the menu". Have I ever mentioned I'm irrational and weird when over-tired?
So I was cross, LittleBear was crying and my day basically couldn't get any worse. Then BigBear came back from his hobble around the block to test his feet, and asked what was up. So then I started crying and my lovely little boy came round the table to put his arms round me, stroke my hair and give me a cuddle. And as well as being the most adorable thing ever, I discovered that yes, my day could get worse, when I allow my baby to have to comfort his own mother when she's been shouting at him.
And then at bathtime, we found a sprinkling of spots on LittleBear's back. It really is the day that just keeps giving.
I suspect I will be at home with my LittleBear tomorrow. But if I am, I will remember how awful I felt today when I chose to put work before LittleBear. I love my work, I care passionately about doing a good job and not letting my colleagues down. But I love my LittleBear more than anything else in the world. And yes, I checked that the spots disappeared when I pressed them with a glass.