Down & Out In A London Kitchen

Esther Walker started a food blog called Recipe Rifle in 2009 when desperate and unemployed. In 2010 she married restaurant critic Giles Coren and far, far too quickly had a baby daughter, called Kitty.

Motherhood and guilt

Posted by Esther Walker
Esther Walker
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on Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Before I had a baby I was confident that a thing about me, which would make motherhood bearable, is that I don't really feel guilty about things. I mean, I feel guilty if I do some awful, (although I tend not to do awful things), but I don't feel guilty if something was an accident, or if my intentions were good, if I did my best. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I don't beat myself up.

But I had never been involved in a Minor Baby Accident THAT IS ALL YOUR FAULT before and thus had no idea the crashing wave of guilt and self-hate that knocks you sideways when it happens, rendering you unable to think straight for days.

This morning, for example, I was taking my 11 month old daughter, Kitty, out for a morning jaunt. We were going to the post office then we were going to the toy shop round the corner and then we were going to the City farm. It was going to be brilliant. We had snacks and a buggy book and nothing was going to stand between us and a good time. I wheeled Kitty out of the door, applied the footbrake to the buggy, turned to shut the door, turned back to see ( .... no it can't be... it CAN'T BE! ...) the buggy rolling down the incline of the garden path, heading for the steps down to the street.

I can't remember what I shouted, but it didn't help. The buggy rumbled on, staggered over the first step and tipped over, connecting Kitty's tiny head with the rough dirty concrete step. There were tears, there was screaming. And Kitty was pretty upset, too. Luckily I live four minutes' from our GP office and from Dr J, who has the best bedside manner outside of Great Ormond Street. Kitty was fine, just some grazes and a terrible shock at her mother's disgusting negligence. But still, her face looks awful, mangled, like a Sunday roast.

I applied the footbrake. I DID, I swear it. I would swear it a thousand times over. And yet the buggy still rolled away. Did I not press down hard enough? Did I hallucinate putting on the footbrake? Whatever, the fact is that I was in charge and it was my fault. And the guilt, oh my word the guilt is simply having me for breakfast. But I suppose that's motherhood and you just have to take it. And next time, make sure the flaming footbrake is on properly. (Checking ten or fifteen times ought to do it.)

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