Sunday, May 3, 2015

Is anyone Winning at this being a parent thing?

Almost 4 weeks have passed since my two year old Charlotte broke her leg. By the time most people read this she will probably already have her cast off. The accident hasn’t been something I’ve wanted to talk about but I’m reminded of it daily. The hot pink cast goes all the way up to her thigh and gets remarks of sympathy and awe everywhere we go. It’s like the scarlet letter she wears telling everyone I’m a bad mom.

I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say I’m not a bad mom. As if I could feel any other way. I am though. She fell and I was less than a few feet away and to me it’s an incident that could have been avoided had I only been more present. Had I only been paying attention, had I only been more thoughtful, had I only not been in a rush maybe she wouldn’t have broken her tibia and fibula. Perhaps she’d be less whiney these days and inclined to sleep and nap in our bed and cry out because it’s uncomfortable to sleep in and walk in. Perhaps.

Diagnosis- two broken bones
Let me tell you something best friends, there’s not one day that goes by where I feel like I’m “winning” at this mom thing. As my friend and fellow confidant Tania pointed out, mom guilt is always there it’s just magnified more in some situations over others. What I will say is that Charlotte having a cast has now opened a world up for me for others to share their stories on their children breaking their bones. I’ve had more women than I can count come up and know the exact break she had because their child suffered the same accident. Sometimes the child was 6 months old, other times it’s their wrist they broke or their arm. Yet, the end result is always the same, as they look at me with a mix of pity and understanding that yes, kids get hurt and there’s not hardly a damn thing you can do about the fact.

This is obviously the reason in the whole state of Colorado why we could get the only orthopedic appointment available two days after her x-rays confirmed the break.

As one mom I met put it, “I wish they came with instruction manuals on when to take them in to the Doctor.” I too, spend my days constantly second guessing myself and my decisions. My parents rarely took us to see the doctor (my dad believed Ice packs and coca-cola were a cure all) so I spend my time teetering between being the parent who takes their kid in for every bump and bruise and the one who waits three weeks to get a cough checked out. Am I a horrible mother for taking my daughter to school thinking she’ll “get over” her hurt leg when it’s actually broken and I subconsciously knew that? Am I wrong for being annoyed I had to sacrifice my day to pick her up when school calls saying she’s not doing well? What does it say about me that I freak out for my car when projectile vomit occurs in the car seat while driving? I’m human, I don’t know what I’m doing half the time raising a child and there’s no rule book for how to react to these incidents. I walk the line between being selfish and caring too much or caring not enough (of course you can have fruit snacks for dinner just EAT!).

If anyone is winning at this mom gig please let me know. I can tell you I’m glad I’m flawed. I don’t have to own up to any set of standards and my mistakes give permission for other parents to confide theirs in me. There’s not one day I go to bed thinking, “Damn I’m an awesome mom.” Most nights I’m rolling my eyes at having to read a story for the 200th time and fighting the “I’m hungry” battle when I know she’s stalling bedtime. I give in to the Netflix “kitty movie” she loves because I couldn’t get anything done if I didn’t and let’s just say the new part-time daycare we found for her is easier on the wallet than the eyes. I’ve forgotten the sunscreen and the snacks and I’m pretty sure half her cups aren’t BPA free.
And yet….
Children grow up anyways. They do. Despite all our fuck ups and poor decisions and lack of hospital visits or too many fruit snacks they do thrive and become adults. Some turn out to be fantastic adults through no credit to the parents and others turn out to be horrible human beings through no fault but bad genetic wiring. Through it all I’ve learned the only thing Charlotte really needs to survive is the only thing that we all need and seek and desire which is pure love. I love my daughter and I gather she feels the same about me (at least until she’s a teenager). I don’t have all the answers and I never will and I’m not receiving any Nobel Peace Prizes for mothering but I’m doing the best I can.

Love, my friends, it’s enough. It’s pretty much the only thing we have to give at the end of the day and as long as we give it freely and without question it’s what truly matters most.

In the meantime, I’ll try to be more present and hopefully no more hot pink casts. Of course people frown upon wrapping your kids in bubble wrap so we’ll see how it goes.