‘Diary of a Reformed Neurotic – A True Story’
May 21 1999 – My first baby is born. He settles immediately in my arms. “Why isn’t he crying? Something must be wrong!” I yell at the doctor.
May 29 1999 – The circumcision. When my baby is examined by the doctor after the procedure I become hysterical, convinced that his penis has been accidentally cut off.
June 5 1999 – Still recovering from the circumcision. (Me, not the baby). I solemnly vow to fight all natural instincts to be anxious and neurotic, and resolve to become a relaxed and easy going mother.
July 6 1999 – I congratulate myself on being so phenomenally laid back, and make a mental note to get some more Valium from the chemist.
May 21 2001 – My second baby is born. She requires a whiff of oxygen after the birth. “Is she alright?” I ask. “She’s fine,” the doctor reassures me. “You’re lying! You’re lying!!!” I scream hysterically.
May 22 2001 – I determine to renew my vows and resolutions.
June 2001 to July 2003 – I am wonderfully relaxed and laid back. My kids eat off the floor, play outside without hats, go for weeks without eating vegetables. I don’t worry when they put small objects in their mouths, or balance precariously on high perches, or sit three inches from the TV. I feel smugly superior to all the neurotic mothers I know who run to the doctor every second day and put sunscreen on their kids to walk from the front door to the car.
19 July 2003 – My son gets the chicken pox. Being the calm mother that I am, I don’t worry about him, though attempting to contain a biological hazard in the form of a four-year-old boy is utterly exhausting.
28 July 2003 – Last day of chicken pox. I praise the Lord, and thrill with the thought of sending both kids to kindy tomorrow.
29 July 2003 – My two-year-old daughter comes out in chicken pox. I contemplate putting makeup on her spots and sending her to crèche anyway, but notice her burning forehead and resign myself to another week at home. Being so laid back, I don’t feel the need to go to the doctor.
1 August 2003 – Hmmm. Daughter still has a 40° temperature. I decide I’d better visit the doctor. I meet a friend there who rushed her feverish child to the hospital late last night. I think what a neurotic mother she is, and applaud myself for being so laid back. The doctor prescribes aspirin and instructs me to call in the morning if I’m concerned.
2 August 2003 – Daughter’s skin seems dry. It must be dehydration. I give her fluids and congratulate myself on being so laid back and knowledgeable.
3 August 2003 (morning) – I notice a red rash spreading over my daughter’s skin. Hmmm. How unusual. Measles as well as chicken pox. If I were a neurotic mother I’d panic. Lucky I’m not neurotic.
3 August 2003 (afternoon) – My husband, mother and sister arrive. They yell at me to take my child to the hospital. I think smugly how glad I am that I’m not neurotic like them.
3 August 2003 (One hour later) – A doctor examines my daughter in the Emergency Ward. He announces that she is in toxic shock and is hours away from death.
4 August 2003 – Daughter is recovering in hospital. I’m a quivering and repentant wreck. I resolve to henceforth fully embrace all possible neuroses and anxieties.
3 September 2003 – My daughter sneezes. I wrap her in blankets, put some sunscreen on her, and take her straight to the doctor.