My mother wrote to me today. She has had a bad dream about Robert. He was walking the street, barefoot and crying, and she thought he badly needed a bath and some attention. Her email took me again on a trip I very often travel, the road of feeling guilty. This particular penchant of mine, finding fault in whatever I do and examining my very life made me stick around for nine years with Robert’s father. Now I am torturing myself with the guilt over my son’s state of health when it is completely outside my control.
Yesterday I took another trip to the GP. Robert is still suffering from a runny nose, and his eyes keep getting infected whenever I stop the antibiotic drops. Dr. J. thought that my concerns were valid and wanted to see him again. This time he sat quietly through the test, perhaps he became accustomed to the proddings from doctors, or maybe he is just comfortable with Dr. J. Even the people at the pharmacy know me now. The woman who burst into tears at the checkout just because her son had a bout of vomiting. The cashier asked me how long I have been in South Africa, I must have looked terribly lost and out of place that day. The adventure at the doctor and the medicines cost me over R500, which is of course a small price to pay for my son’s wellbeing, but still, I am feeling the pinch now that our Medical Savings Account has been depleted.
Now I am an expert at treating the ailment of children. I know that a babies hate eye drops, but the can occasionally be taught to accept their fleeting discomfort; nose spray, in contrast, is a waste of time and no amount of cajoling can make a toddler accept it even near his nose. My futile attempts landed the spray on his cheek and eyelids but never near his nose. I know that every anti biotic requires a pro-biotic, because the medicine kills all types of bacteria indiscriminately, another medicine has to keep the good bacteria alive. Each medicine of course has special techniques of administering : The pro-biotic drops are surreptitiously added to a spoonful of food, while the antibiotic dose has to be given quickly and decisively with the right amount of encouragement before, and overabundant fanfare and hand-clapping after. All of this of course is exhausting to this poor mother’s nerves.
Still I question whether I am giving my son enough time, perhaps my worries and stress are robbing him of precious bonding time. Maybe I shout too much at him when he plays with washing machine door, destroys his board books, or breaks unbreakable plates. My mother’s email did not help this self doubting side of my personality. I badly need someone to tell me that I am doing my best under the circumstances.