I was just reading a fellow momblogger's post, Never Again, by Mamajama. She writes to her little one about not being able to keep her safe from everything, but doing her best to do so, no matter what.
Do you remember that first moment when you knew you really couldn't protect your kids from the world? Mamajama's post made me think about a time when Little Man was about 3 and Tweenie was 7, and I had the gall to think I could take a shower. Yes, a 2 minute-wash the hair, face, and anything else you can get to before the KiddosPolitico notice I am out of the room-type shower. You know the routine. We've all been there.
I rewind the Madeline video (Tweenie thought she was Madeline, really and truly, for a very long time...) and jump into the downstairs shower, mere feet away from the kids. I don't even begin to allow myself to enjoy the hot water on my back as I know I don't have time to luxuriate.
Mid-shampoo, I hear that sound...you know the one...the blood-curdling scream, the "MOOOOOOOOOOM! He's BLEEEEDING!" I run naked out of the bathroom (not a pretty sight, post 2 kids...), covered in soap, grabbing a towel from the rack as I run out to the living room. All I see is my baby boy, with an eye covered in blood, and his big sis, holding him, terrified, bringing him in the house. He's drenched, a big stream of blood running down his shirt.
Thankfully, the one thing I do well is to calmly take charge in a crisis. Pushing my own panic aside, I grab the boy, throw him across myself and the towel, and send Tweenie to bring wet paper towels while I try to find the source of the blood. She is a huge help, and runs to do her part to help her little bro. Horrible thoughts run through my head: "He's lost an eye, he's going to need stitches, he's going to be scarred for life, where the hell is The Hubby when you need him? How could I have let this happen???" Once I am able to clean the blood away from the wound, I see that it's not his eye (deep sigh), but a decent sized cut, to the right of the eye - withing a quarter inch of the eye itself. I take a deep breath, comfort the boy, keep pressure on the cut, and try to comfort Tweenie, who thinks, in her tiny mind, that she must have has killed her brother at this point.
Once Tweenie can breathe again, she begins to retell the tale and I get the gist of what happened. Tweenie remembered the plastic hockey sticks in the shed that we'd inheirited recently from another family. What better time to teach yourself hockey than when Mom has ever-so-selfishly opted for a shower? I know what you're thinking...What kind of mother am I? Didn't I order them to stay put for all of two minutes? Did I prep/scare/guilt them with the "stay here, don't answer the door, don't answer the phone, even if it's Daddy or Nana or Papa or the aunties or neighbors, or even the police, because it could be a lookalike who is really a kidnapper or a murderer? Yes. Yes, yes and yes. They knew the drill. But the lure of two slightly used and colorful plastic hockey stucks trumps a Madeline video and mommyguilt every time.
Not exactly being hockey afficionados at 3 and 7, they just started swinging...not intentionally at each other, but, hey, gross motor being what it is when you're so little, things got out of hand... one good uppercut to the boy's eye, and presto- how to create mommy panic in one easy step! Tweenie was guilt-ridden (yes, we're Catholic, can you tell???), and more than a little worried about having taken brother outside without Mom knowing (thank God it was the well-fenced backyard!), She worried about the repercussions of her actions. Poor baby felt awful. That was punishment enough. Little Man, meanwhile, was calming down, and happy with the popsicle I'd used to distract him from the pain and the ice on his face.
I finally calm down Tweenie, get her past the guilt, get the bleeding under control, and call my mother, a pediatric nurse, to let her know that we're coming over - stat! We jump into the ancient Explorer and it gets us across town to Mom's. Her expert medical care included cleaning the wound thoroughly, applying a butterfly strip, and telling me to watch for concussion (rouse him most of the night to make sure he can regain consciousness...that's a fun one, huh?). Oh, yes. And to burn the hockey sticks. The boy will be fine, no loss of organs or disfigurement. But hockey sticks? What was I thinking? Why not give them loaded guns to play with instead??? Actually, Mom, as always, was terrific. The pediatrician's consult the next day concurred. Even with the hockey stick remark. The Hubby, upon arriving from work, was nothing but supportive and nonjudgemental. (And a wreck -it's actually rather endearing. I am the one that is fine during the crisis, he worries and frets. I simply have my breakdown later, when there's time to fall apart. Classic mom self-denial at its best.
Needless to say, we no longer have the hockey sticks. Though the dog managed to chew up an old puck and choke on it, requiring more medical care than the boy. Now, years later, though no one else can see the minute scar near Little Man's right eye, I still can. I remember thinking, as I sat and watched that tiny boy and his almost as tiny sister play on the floor with blocks later that day, that I will never, no matter how careful I am, be able to keep them 100% safe. That in this world of ours, growing up has inherent risks. If I am to raise them to be the incredible and independent people I want them to be, they're going to get hurt from time to time. And you know what? That just really sucks. But it's the way it is.
We've seen many scrapes, cuts and e.r. trips since that day. It's the stuff of childhood. (Thankfully, not the stuff of CPS reports...) Co-pays aplenty. But through it all, we're still managing to get through and raise relatively healthy kids in an environment that's as safe as humanly possible. But I don't think it will ever get easy to see our kids hurt in any way. Whether it's not being invited to a party, or a playmate that didn't return a prized Pokemon card, or a scrape across the nose from running face-first into a tree -yep, true story- a momma's heartstrings get pulled hard every day. In a million ways. Despite all the risks of having my heart broken over my kids, the benefits far outweigh the risks. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world.
What is your story? Do you remember the first moment when it dawned on you that you would never be able to keep your kids safe from the world? Share it, and make us all feel a little less guilty!
Quotes for the day
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