There are just some things you accept that you give up experiencing when you’re a working mom. New foods. New friends. New words, and new teeth.
The first all-by-myself monkey bar expedition. The first fairy princess dress-up playdate. The first goal scored at soccer practice. The first snowman drawing. The first snowman making.
Mostly I’ve learned to do without; what choice do I have? Still, some of them hurt a little more than others. There’s not a day that I don’t wish I had a magic mirror that Ozma gave Dorothy, so I could peek in on my girls at any given minute to witness the small triumphs and sweet moments.
But for me, my Achilles heel is missing pediatrician visits.
I want to be there. I feel I should be there. I’m the mom, dammit, and it kills me not to be there, holding hands and stroking heads, ready with a lollipop after those boosters. And so I never make the appointment until the last possible minute and the school is calling and ugh did we miss a deadline or something? because I simply am not available during appointment hours. Of course procrastination doesn’t somehow make the need to visit go away. One of these years I’ll learn that.
So I finally resigned myself to rely on my sitter to take the girls in for well visits (remember when they were just called check-ups?), willing away memories of sanctimommy judgments I once made myself about nannies in the waiting room with children.
(Oh, don’t we all know best when we’ve got our first baby in our arms?)
I briefed my sitter on the questions to ask, the forms to get, the little nighttime cough to discuss. I looked Sagey in the eye and promised, don’t worry sweetie. I don’t think you get a shot this time. It’s just a visit. With the nice doctor.
And then, in the middle of a meeting, I get the call from the nice doctor about the shot.
The guilt hits. The crushing, debilitating, evil, pathetic working mom guilt. The stuff that never goes away even when you think you’ve got it all under control. Like it just has to creep up into the forefront of your consciousness once in a while to keep you in check; a stinging reminder that no, you can’t do it all. Something always gives. It’s a guilt that wants you to feel it, and feel it good. Yes, right now. Yes, right in the middle of a meeting. And no, you can’t suppress it.
I’m wondering whether my 3 year-old feels betrayed or abandoned or simply in pain and I’m just not there. I’m in a meeting debating the very important, life-of-death decision of how big the title card should be at the end of the commercial.
The tears burn the back of my eyes. I’m just not there.