We all know we can't be perfect parents but we must strive our best to provide as much love, nurture, safety and goodness for our children as possible. But because there's so much that parenting entails, we're bound to mess up multiple times along the way because we are simply imperfect humans. I admit that in the five months I've been a mother, I've messed up many times already. Yet, nothing could have prepared me for my biggest mistake to date and the guilt I endured afterwards.
As recommended, I have been working with my son Boston on his tummy since he was born to help him with his muscle development. One of the milestones was him rolling over, which we were all very proud of. However, rolling created complications I hadn't considered - like the potential for him to roll off of things (it should have been a no-brainer. I know!).
In the first few days of Boston rolling over, we were a bit unprepared. Early one morning, Boston was getting fussy, so I put him on my lap, secured him in my Peanut shell, and wheeled him out with me to the living room couch where I put him down and went back into our room to grab his binky and bottle. When I returned, I found him lying on the ground staring at the ceiling. I was horrified. How did he fall? What if he hurt his neck? Does he have a concussion? Oh my gosh, how do I pick him up? I tried holding myself up with one hand on my wheelchair frame while the other reached under his arms to try and scoop him up. Meanwhile my feet had collapsed off of my footrest and were pulling my whole body down with them. I had to let him back down midway. Grrr. I can't do it by myself in my wheelchair. My mind was going at 100 miles per minute and my heart was beating faster than ever. I was at a lost as to what to do. I felt so helpless as a mother and even more so a mother in a wheelchair. I felt tears starting to form but tried so hard to fight them. I can't cry. That's ridiculous and it won't help anything. I wasn't going to feel better if I cried this time. I need to stay calm and help him. It was at that moment that he looked up at me and giggled--a sign that he was OK. Good. I resolved to call his daddy for help. I had never felt so limited in my wheelchair as I did at that moment.
Our day went about as usual with exercises, reading, tummy time, but the feeling of guilt lingered in the back of my mind. I couldn't help but feel like a horrible mother for allowing my son to fall and risk him getting hurt. I felt even worse that I couldn't even rescue my own son by simply picking him up – I felt that I had failed in my role as Boston's mother. I didn't mention it to anyone the whole day because I was so ashamed. It wasn't until dinner with our family that my husband teasingly brought it up. I felt like reaching over to cover his mouth as he was saying it, but it was too late. The secret was out. Everyone knew I was a horrible mother. It was then that my father-in-law told me that things like this are bound to happen again and again and we won't be able to cover all of our bases. We're bound to slip up. I really contemplated that comment.
I'm trying my best to be a good parent and this accident doesn't make me as bad as I initially thought it did because it was simply that--an accident. Of course I prefer to prevent Boston from experiencing any falls, but he's OK now and that's all that matters. I just need to be more clever and find ways to minimize future falls like by laying down pillows along the couch, and playing more often on the floor while keeping up with his energy and developing mobility. It's unfortunate but I can't protect him from everything. Life brings many uncertainties and challenges that help us grow, and that's what Boston will have to experience. I've realized that I can only do my best and teach him to get back up after falls and to do so with bravery, poise, and a positive attitude (he already has that last one down). I hope his consistently happy disposition will carry him through his lifetime and that his smile, which lights up his whole face, will always find its way to the surface during those tough times.
This was one rough experience, but Dad helped me realized that I wasn't a horrible mommy. In parenting, you live and you learn, and I’ll always be learning and should be thankful for the process. I'll never be the perfect parent but I hope that my husband and I can be the best parents we can be for our child. I need to take things one day at a time and enjoy the journey and hope that Boston can find it in his sweet little heart to forgive me as I learn, too.