"Ut Oh! I'm Sorry" Sometimes Even Parents Make Mistakes

We've all done it.  That moment when you gasp and think, "I must be the worst parent EVER."  The moment when you think that no one else has ever done anything so stupid.

I remember hearing a story from one of my favorite author/preachers about a time when his daughter was a little girl and somehow he and his wife got their signals crossed on who was supposed to be watching her.  She had just returned from somewhere in the car.  The husband came and got into the car, without talking to the wife and drove off.  He got to his destination and was about to get out of the car when the sound of a baby cooing stopped him.  Apparently his wife hadn't gotten the baby out of the car yet and he was about to leave the child in the car on a hot California day.  When I heard this story I thought, "How stupid." and "Boy, it makes me feel a lot better that he did something like this." 

I woke up this morning on the actual right side of the bed and was pretty optimistic about the day despite the fact that I was still tired and having some IC pain.  The kitchen was actually clean for once because I did the dishes the previous night and Alexandria was still in bed.  She didn't get up until 8:30.  She ate all of her breakfast (oatmeal with applesauce and coconut milk yogurt) and entertained herself with blocks while I got ready for story time at our local library.  I even had time to read my Bible, which to be quite honest is a rarity some weeks.  It was going to be a good day. 

We packed up the car and made our way to story time.  We were even EARLY for a change.  Story time was definitely challenging because Alexandria had her own idea of how we were going to spend our time (which involved running off and throwing many books on the floor), but I had a great talk with one of my mom friends who told me that her child had thrown a tantrum that morning.  Even though I would never wish a tantrum on one of my mom friends, this made me feel better.  It was all about solidarity. 

While I was talking to my friend Alexandria was standing by the door to the stairs pleading, "Stairs? Stairs? Stairs?"  Every week I let her take one trip up the stairs and we take the elevator back down.  Eventually I went over to her and told her we could walk up the stairs one time.  As I was there a older gentlemen scolded me for letting my kid hang out by the door because his daughter got her finger chopped off because it got slammed in the door.  There is NOTHING worse than getting scolded in public by someone you don't even know.  I just smiled and nodded at him and thought, "That's not going to happen to my kid."  To his credit, he did say that she was too beautiful of a little girl to get hurt like that.  I agreed with him there. 

When it was time to go I got all of our books and made our way up to the check out line.  As I always do I sat Alexandria up on the counter and held her with my hand.  I pulled the bag of books off of my shoulder and reached down with my other hand to take the books out to put them on the counter.

AND THEN IT HAPPENED...Alexandria fell off of the very high counter onto the floor.  I watched it in slow motion and couldn't believe my eyes.  There wasn't anything I could do to stop it.  Had I just let my kid fall of the counter?  Had I just taken my hand off of her for a second (okay maybe more than a second) and she just fell?  I imagined what was going through everyone's heads around me.  The "tsk, tsk, why did she have her child on that counter to begin with?"  I was mortified.  I heard the librarian say to the other one, "She just fell off the counter."  I had done this countless times and watched other moms do the same and not once had a kid fallen.  

There were hardly any tears and no blood.  She landed on her diapered butt and just hit her head against the side of the counter a little bit.  Two seconds later she was asking for stickers.  Alexandria was okay. 

"I feel like I just got awarded the worst mom of the year award," I told the librarian.   

She gave me a knowing smile and said, "My son is 17 years old and worse things have happened to him.  He has turned out okay."

I took a deep breath, thanking the librarian in my head for the solidarity she had given me.  It was okay.  She was okay.  She probably wouldn't even remember it when she was older so she could tell her psychiatrist (crossing fingers).  Regardless, I still walked out of the library feeling pretty stupid. 

I have kind of adopted the "Que sera, sera" philosophy when it comes to parenting.  Meaning, you can't control everything, so don't get hyper when your kid falls down, don't wait for them to choke if they are eating a hard food (especially if they have a full mouth of teeth), don't be constantly afraid they are going to be hit by a car (even though you obviously still teach them to stay away from the street and hold your hand when you are in a parking lot).  I find that worrying about every little thing that happens to your child, just sucks the joy out of life and being a mother.  If something does happen, I tell myself that accidents do happen and it's okay.  Kiss bruised heads, put on band aids and move on.  I've had to adopt this philosophy because I tend to worry too much and be anxious about everything.  Then I feel guilty and beat myself up about it.  So, for me, being a good and healthy parent means that I have to let go of these constant feelings.  It's funny because the more I put on this mentality the easier it is to live a worry free life. 

I had to remind myself of this as I left the library.  I had to tell myself this was just an accident.  Yes, Alexandria could have gotten badly hurt, but she didn't.  Granted, she wouldn't be sitting on the counter anymore, but I'm not going to hover over her either waiting for her to fall.  I had to forgive myself for this accident and move on. 

There's a book that we ironically got from the library last week.  It's one of Alexandria's favorites, so we kept it for a second week so she could read it again (and again...and again).  It's called "Uh-oh!  I'm Sorry."  Each page has something that a kid did on accident (or on purpose), like knocking down blocks, or spilling cereal, and they say "Uh-oh!"  Then you lift up the flap and the kid says, "I'm sorry!"  The parent or other child says, "It's okay." and tells them how they can fix the problem.  On the very last page there is a picture of a parent that has spilled that night's dinner on the table and they say, "Uh-oh!"  The text says, "And sometimes even parents make mistakes."  And you lift up the flap and the parent says, "I'm sorry!"  And the kid tells his dad it is okay, why don't they order pizza.

When I first read this book I thought it was sweet that they were teaching children that their parents make mistakes sometimes and that the parents have to ask the kids to forgive them.  It wasn't until this afternoon when Alexandria asked me to read the story to her again that I understood the full meaning of that last page.  Sometimes (quite a lot it seems to me) parents make mistakes.  Sometimes they yell at their kids when they shouldn't, sometimes they don't spend enough time with them playing because they are selfish and want to see what's happening on Facebook, sometimes they wonder what they were thinking when the decided to have children and sometimes they take their hands off of their kid and they take a long fall to the floor.  Sometimes EVEN parents make mistakes.  And we have to tell our kids we are sorry.  And our kids still love us and tell us it's okay.  And we have to tell ourselves we are sorry.  And we have to forgive ourselves when we screw up, whether it was an accident or on purpose.  We have to thank God for giving us mercy during our stupidity and move on.  And then hug our kiddos a little closer when we put them to bed at night and give them extra kisses for no reason whatsoever the next day.  Honestly, if they knew what we were fretting about that's what they would want us to do anyway.  They would tell us that it was okay and ask if they can have a sticker.  Because stickers are awesome.

I was a little worried she might fall in, but figured it couldn't be too deep and we could dry her off if she did.
She didn't though.
And she made it to her second birthday.  I consider that a job well done.

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