I reached a milestone today as a parent: I was accused by another parent of neglecting in my duties as a mom to care for my child. The accusing mom did not actually say, “You’re a bad mom,” but she may as well have just come out and said it that way.
I returned to work three weeks ago as a full-time teacher, covering my friend Bess’ kindergarten class while she’s out on maternity leave. It has been a hard adjustment for everyone in the family, and it’s been further complicated by the fact that Griffin has been fighting illness since he started going to day care. I was expecting him to get sick, and he predictably did almost immediately. What I wasn’t expecting is for it to go on and on the way it has. He’s had a cold in one form or another for nearly three weeks, had stomach flu complete with projectile vomiting and diarrhea up the back and down the legs, and now is on to wheezing like an asthmatic. Andrew and I have both stayed home from work with him for a couple of days when he was really sick, and we have been to the doctor three times in the past three weeks. I was beginning to feel like a worry-wart mom, but on the last visit this past Wednesday, his pediatrician assured me that it’s just par for the course and that he’ll get better eventually. We’re currently treating his wheezing with two inhaled medicines, and he’s pretty much back to his old self, laughing, playing, eating, and sleeping normally.
This morning when I went to drop Griffin off at day care, another mom (who made it clear she’s a nurse) handed me a printout on RSV (the illness his pediatrician has already told me is the likely culprit of his symptoms) and said she was “very upset” that Griffin had been at day care yesterday. She went on to tell me that RSV is a “highly contagious” disease and it’s “completely inappropriate” for him to be at day care. I told her that his doctor had said nothing about Griffin not attending day care, at which point she said, “Sometimes you have to ask specific questions.” She went on to say that “many children who get it are on respirators in the hospital” and she didn’t want her child to get it, so if Griffin was going to be at day care, she was going to take a sick day and pull her daughter out, although “it may be too late.”
I think it was about this point that I started to cry. I babbled something about “being new at this mom thing” and how “of course I would never bring Griffin to day care if I thought he was going to get other kids seriously ill” and she talked back at me about “it’s highly contagious and we’ll probably ALL get it now.” By this time, I was late to work and was supposed to be with my students in 15 minutes. I called our extremely compassionate secretary who assured me she’d handle it. I gathered my things and left with Griffin on my hip and tears streaming down my face.
I’m home now and am calmer. Griffin and I enjoyed playing together this morning, and now he’s down for a nice long nap. His doctor emailed me back right away saying there’s absolutely no reason Griffin can’t go to day care, that he stopped being contagious 24 hours after his fever broke, and that basically he’s fine. I am happy I am vindicated, and happy to be home enjoying some unexpected hours with my little guy.
I’ve thought a lot about what I’m going to say when I run into this mom again. She was wrong, plain and simple, on so many levels including medically. I could point all these things out to her and tell her just how wrong she was, but I think I’ll just say this to her: If I’ve learned anything about parenting so far, it’s that we all do the best that we can for our kids. Instead of keeping this in mind, you made me feel ignorant, incompetent, and stupid when you could have addressed your worries by showing compassion, understanding, and asking questions instead of accusing. I hope you keep this in mind the next time you are doing the best you can for your daughter.