The birthday party had ended and if I am being honest, I was filled with this sense of relief. All those DIY crafts that took hours had been pulled down in a matter of seconds, decor thrown away, and a baby coming down from a sugar high that I thought meant she was going to nap so soundly, I may actually get that break I’ve been hoping for since… well, a year ago.
Finally home, you tell yourself the rest of the day is going to be relaxing with your feet up. A warm cup of tea, comfy jammies, and not a care in the world.
Then you remember you’re a mom and that is as much of a pipe dream as being the first person to surf on the moon.
Nana and papa flown in from the East Coast to celebrate with us, sitting all together after the party with my little munchkin standing right in front of us, within grasp. One minute she is there, then there is a bang, and she is down. Just like that. Fully supervised.
A split second.
I feel like as parents, we receive a lot of judgement. People judge us when we take a moment to look at our phone while pushing our kids on the swing. They judge us when our kids have bumps and bruises from tumbling while learning how to walk, they judge us based on their clothes, their hair, whether they still have food caked on their face from the snacks they had on the stroller ride over to the park. With noses turned up, they judge us for every little move we make.
They expect our kids to be wrapped in bubble wrap, supervised 24 hours a day. The reality is, it can’t be done. We are parents, but we are also human.
One split second and she had fallen, smacked her face off the coffee table and split open her eyelid. Four people watching her, within all of our grasps and it didn’t make a difference. My heart was racing, my stomach in knots and up in my throat, the amount of guilt that filled me was immeasurable. Picking her up, I tried to move her hands away from her face to see what I thought would be another bump, instead I saw what I’m sure would be any parent’s worst fear; blood.
I knew right away it was a hospital visit. Bundling her up, I threw on my purse and went out in my pjs.
There were so many thoughts going through my head. My anxiety was crippling on the drive there. I was worried about her eye, so close to where she had banged her head. I was worried about concussions, I was worried about whether or not her fall would deter her from learning to walk. I was worried most of all, in that moment that she would need stitches.
In the back of my mind, I kept telling myself the doctor would look at it, tell us we were being over cautious parents and send us home with the assurance that it would heal on it own. When the nurse came out and put the numbing cream on, I knew that wouldn’t be the case and I can’t tell you what I felt in that moment.
Kids get hurt. That’s the truth of it. The guilt that goes along with our kids getting hurt, especially when they are so young is so heavy. Add that to society’s need to input their comments and opinion on every parent’s parenting, and you can add to that guilt tenfold. The amount of pressure on parents is unreasonable.
And that night, I was feeling all of it.
Two stitches and about ten years off my life.
All of this had me thinking about how parenting affects us mentally. No one is harder on us as parents than we are on ourselves. Every bump, every bruise, every stitch, every delayed milestone, every tantrum weighs on us and makes us question whether or not we are good parents. Sometimes, convincing ourselves that we are can be the most trying task.
Parenting is so constant, and there are rarely people patting us on the back for every accomplishment. Sometimes without that, we forget about our accomplishments altogether and focus solely on our failures. This is especially difficult for mothers.
We carry the brunt on the weight. We tend to be full time parents, putting ourselves aside for the well-being of our little bundles of mischief, adventure and joy. We sacrifice our bodies, our hormones, our emotions, our mental health, our sleep. Everything that we are is transformed into this entirely different personality, changing us so completely we almost lose ourselves when we become mothers.
Add the endless guilt and questioning of whether or not we are doing a good job and some of us can feel so low.
The fact is that babies get hurt. They fall down, they get bumps and bruises. They overreact to small pinches and squeezes, they cry sometimes without reason. Even a mom at the very top of her game will turn her head for a second and turn back to see her little one sprawled on the floor.
Don’t beat yourself up. Babies are super resilient and I am learning that every scratch, bump, and bruise seems to traumatize us more than it does our babies.
Keep at it, tomorrow is another day filled with even more challenges. One day you will wake up and years will have passed and all of those ‘failures’ won’t even have made it into their memories.