“The first time I dropped my daughter Sonya on her head from a great height, she was about eight months old.” Abby Sher, The Good Mother Myth
When the opening essay of The Good Mother Myth began with the above quote, I knew I made a good purchase. Parenting fails are not necessarily things we tend to share with one another and suddenly, I felt a bit better about the handful of parenting fails P.J. and I have made thus far.
The first fail I can recall occurred when she was just a couple of months old. I propped her up in the corner of the couch so I could get a “big girl” picture of her. After making sure she was tightly wedged in between the back of the couch and the arm, I turned to reach for my phone. I had my eye off of her for no more than a second, but by the time I turned back to her, she had already fallen forward and face planted right into the couch. Whew, the nice, soft, cushy couch. Of course she wasn’t injured but it scared the crap out of her and she was bawling her eyes out. I felt like joining her. This was the first time (though definitely not the last) I had done something boneheaded that could have injured her and I punished myself for days.
Five or six months later, P.J., Ruby and I took a holiday to London and were staying with one of P.J.’s colleagues. With no crib or pack-n-play, Ruby’s sleeping situation was far from ideal. For naps, we used the bed to created a cocoon surrounded by heavy pillows. Bad idea, you say? You see where this is going, you say? Yeah, we probably should have seen it coming, but you don’t always know what your child is capable of until it’s too late. P.J. and I were downstairs most likely surfing the interwebs when we heard it. THUD. WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! We raced up the stairs two at a time, burst into the room and found her on the hard wood floor wailing. When all was said and done, she had a small red mark on her head and we felt like the worst and dumbest parents in the world. She hit her head no less than five additional times while we were gone. And plenty more since then.
Confession feels good. So does empathy. If you are a new parent reading this, trust me when I say that you will do something (or fail to do something) at some point that will lead to your child being startled or injured. Maybe you already have. Also trust me when I say that THIS DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD PARENT! You will ruminate and rehash your mistakes, but you will learn from them and eventually you will forgive yourself. The part where you feel like a piece of shit? Yeah, that’s what sets you apart from the actual bad parents.