Parenting is one of the most
challenging responsibilities any of us will undertake. And it comes with zero training.
If we're honest, most of us will admit we have no idea what we are doing much
of the time.
This lack of roadmaps,
combined with the stress and frustration that come with being the adult in charge of raising another human, can
lead to some less than stellar moments. Here are 5 incidents I desperately wish I could to
1. That time I looked away
daughter was 7 months old, she rolled off my bed and suffered a concussion.
I was sitting right next to her when it happened. I looked away momentarily, because the dog was barking. By the time I noticed movement out of my peripheral
vision, there was nothing I could do but watch in horror. She was falling off
the opposite end of our king-size bed, and I couldn't get to her in time. I
have never stopped feeling guilty about that moment. Even though she is now a
healthy, happy 7-year-old.
When I look back at photos,
I realize my child spent a great deal of time on our bed as an infant. She
should have been on the floor. Even though I never left her unsupervised while
on the bed, that one moment demonstrated how quickly things can happen. I wish
I had realized the dangers before the accident and kept her safer.
2. That time our kid was ambushed
scary as the concussion was, my daughter's first seizure
was far more terrifying. I believe I responded appropriately by remaining calm
and getting her to the hospital to be evaluated immediately afterwards. But
there is one moment I desperately wish I could do over. I stepped out
into the hallway to make a phone call to my parents, who had been with us when
the seizure occurred and were worried. Suddenly, I heard my child scream. I ran
back into the room to discover the staff was attempting to draw blood. They had
come at her with a needle and no warning. My husband was there, but didn't
realize what was happening.
Our daughter has been
terrified of needles ever since that experience. And she wasn't before. After
she went on seizure medication, she needed regular blood draws and had to be
physically held down for them. It was awful. And I feel it is all my fault. If
only I had stayed in the room and paid attention. If I had this moment to do
over, I never would have left her side—not even for a second.
It was one of 'those' parenting days. Things had been building until I was in the kitchen completely losing my shit.
3. That time we left too soon
when you remain at your child's side and monitor any medical evaluations,
things can go wrong. After my child experienced her first seizure, a neurologist
ordered an MRI. Due to her young age, she would have to go under anesthesia. As she came out of it, she experienced what is known as emergence
delirium. The nurse did not recognize what was happening and insisted we
leave the hospital to make room for other patients—even as my child was in a dissociative
state and in distress.
I wish I had done more research in advance of her procedure, so I had been aware of this common potential complication. I wish I had
insisted we stay, so our daughter could receive the care she needed. My instincts told me
what was happening was not in any way normal. But I was so disturbed by seeing
her in that condition, it was all I could do to hold myself together. I just
wanted to get my child home.
After the fact, I wrote letters to everyone in a position of
power at the hospital. And every last one of them called me, including the anesthesiologist
from his family vacation. When my daughter required a follow-up MRI a year later,
we had a much
different experience. But I would give anything to have that day back to do
over. It was the moment I learned the
importance of being my child's advocate.
4. That time with the jellyfish
One summer day several years ago, my
child and I met friends at the beach for a playdate. We were in the water when she
suddenly began to scream in agony. My instinct was to grab her and get her out
of the water. Once I did, I began to look for blood, thinking shark bite. I
couldn't find any. After a few minutes of constant screaming, a small red welt
appeared on her leg. I went to a lifeguard to confirm my suspicion—it was a
jellyfish sting. The lifeguard had a special treatment mixture and sprayed it
on my child's leg, which provided immediate relief. We then went home where I
Googled "How to treat a jellyfish sting" and took further measures. But I did
not get all the tentacles out. A week later, they reactivated, causing an
even larger, more painful welt to form on my child's leg that required a trip
to the doctor's office.
We live in Florida. The beach is part of life here. I wish I
had done more research and better understood both the potential dangers as well
as how to manage them. I'd never dealt with a jellyfish sting before. I had no
idea how to properly care for them, and my daughter paid the price for my
ignorance. While this medical situation was not an emergency, a little
knowledge would have gone a long way in helping my daughter. If I had it to do
over, I would be better prepared.
There are countless parenting moments I would welcome the opportunity to do over. But these five haunt me.
5. That time I totally lost my shit
This one's the doozy I feel guilt over
every single day of my life. The one I relive over and over again and beat
myself up over. It was one of "those" parenting days. Things had been building until
I was in the kitchen completely losing my shit. Screaming and throwing things
and out of control. I can't recall the specific reason I lost it. I just remember
being overwhelmed. Then a tiny, trembling voice said, "Mommy, I'm really afraid
of you right now."
My heart broke into a million pieces. I rushed to scoop my daughter up and rocked with her gently, apologizing profusely and assuring her
everything was going to be OK. That is not the parent I want to be. It's not the
mother my child deserves. And I spend every day trying hard not to be that way
again. If I could relive that moment, I would have stepped away. Composed
myself. Taken deep breaths. Counted. Whatever I needed to do to calm down and
avoid losing it in front of my child. I believe it is good to let her see me experiencing
a range of emotions. But I don't want my child to be afraid of me. The success
of our relationship through the years is dependent on her feeling safe with me.
She didn't in that moment, and I hate myself for that.
I could go on. There are
countless parenting moments I would welcome the opportunity to do over. But these five haunt me.
And no matter how many great parenting moments I have, or how many times I get
things "right," I will never forget these moments. I hope that makes me a
better parent today and tomorrow and the next day.
I'm never going to be the
perfect mother. There is no such thing. What I aspire to, however, is being the best
mother I can be, with fewer regrets and more pride and joy in the time I spent
with my daughter.