It's a slow day at the office- my boss is out at a conference, and the heavy rain is apparently dampening people's desire to leave the house. In fact, when the phone rings at 1130 I jump a little, because it's been silent all morning.
I glance at the readout as I pop my earpiece into place, taking in a breath to deliver my cheerful, "Thank you for calling!" But the caller-ID makes my stomach drop.
It's the daycare.
To her credit, the first words out of her mouth are, "Neeps is okay, but..."
The relief that washes through me almost cancels out the rest of the sentence, but she keeps talking and eventually I put it together: my child has managed to lose a fight with a hard corner, and now he has a fat lip and a torn frenulum. But he's fine.
I am less fine.
My immediate urge is to go to him and pick him up and cuddle him- but he is fine, and so I will not do that because I need to be at work. Instead I will sit here and feel guilty that I wasn't there to pick him up and cuddle him when he injured himself. I will try to fight off the poisonous little voice that hisses, soon he will learn that he can't count on you to be there for him when he's scared and hurting, when he most needs his mother...
If only I could carve Jerk Brain out like the malignant tumor it is.
In the end I do leave work early- but only by an hour. And he is all delighted smiles when he sees me (although his smile is misshapen by his swollen lip) and I pick him up and hold him and he hugs me back and Jerk Brain has nothing else to say.