Admit it. There is not a single one of you out there that has not had a mommy mishap you didn’t wish you could take back. We’ve all succumbed to our ego as mothers…it is I believe the very nature of motherhood to grow us spiritually. My kids have taught me more than anyone how to live in the moment, love unconditionally, and forgive myself completely. For my mistakes will only teach me if I choose to learn from them.
Don’t Shake the Baby
As a nurse, this is a no-brainer. Actually as a human being. Shaking an infantout of frustration when you simply don’t know how to calm them down is dangerous…even fatal. This is why I believe it is so important to share my story, and the truth about what I have experienced as a young mother.
It is my first baby, my beautiful lovely boy, that has always tested me the most. On some level I believe he is my greatest teacher, as he brings out the worst of my ego and forces me to face in myself what I am least willing to see.
As an infant, my husband and I walked, rocked, sang, patted, danced, and sleep-walked him every night for what felt like years. Nothing we did seemed to help, as I implemented everything I could think of or read about to stop his tears.
Gas drops, evening baths, car-rides…nothing seemed to help.
My darkest moment was when for a split second I lost my mind. I looked directly into his eyes and out of pure distraught and frustration I shook him. Horrified, I cradled him to my shoulder, sure I had damaged him for life in that single most shameful moment.
Fortunately I had not. But my story does not end there.
My second son brought me very similar frustration when he was only months old. Unbelievably, it happened again. I never thought I would hurt my child but in an instant of insanity, I had allowed my ego to overcome my sense of love and empathy for this pure and innocent being. I’ll never forget his squeal of fear and I was sure I would never gain his trust again.
It is only I believe by the grace of God that neither of my children were injured, or even more incredibly, they maintained their pure love and trust in me as their mother. It has taken me years to forgive myself for something they never judged me on for a moment. Despite their young age, or maybe because of it, they reached out to me with pure unconditional love with their instantaneous forgiveness.
I teach all my new mothers that shaken baby syndrome is a real thing. That they MUST put their baby down in a safe place and WALK AWAY until they themselves are calm. Most look at me like I’m out of my mind…but I will never quit saying it. I would never have believed it would happen to me, so I KNOW it could happen to ANYONE.
Lock the Door
I never would have thought frustration would drive me to completely insane measures to get what I wanted.
My second son was about two at the time. He was always one that would climb into his crib to nap, not one to follow his brother’s footsteps of bedtime resistance.
But there was something about this particular day with him, as he fought me tooth and nail about everything. I could not wait for him to take his afternoon nap, so I could get just an hour of peace before I had to pick up his brother from preschool. I was counting the minutes.
I took him upstairs as was our routine, ready for our nap-time story and eventual bliss of silence. But he was not having it. He ran from my lap with tears streaming down his face. Kicking, punching and fighting with his entire body against what I knew would make us both feel better. Just a few moments of sleep would fix it all.
After fighting with him for forever I snapped. I placed him in our room and locked the door. Not caring how long he was going to wail knowing it would eventually stop as he succumbed to sleep.
Satisfied with my disciplinary action, I started down the stairs. But something stopped me completely cold with only a few steps of my descent.
I could not open that door from the outside.
Oh. My. God. What had I done???? My TWO year old was locked in my bedroom and I could not get to him! What kind of mother am I? He’s not even my first…I totally knew better and allowed what I wanted to influence my choices, putting him in danger. This was completely unforgivable and I was instantly racked with shame and fear. What in God’s name was I supposed to do???
After calming myself and talking to him through the door in what I hoped were soothing tones, I remembered there might be a way. We had only been in the house for a little over a year, but I remembered seeing on top of the door jamb a little bronze piece about 3 inches long. I never figured out what it was for but I now hoped beyond measure it was the key I needed to rescue my son.
Who’s kidding who here? I needed it to rescue myself.
Within moments I had the door open, and as I embraced my sobbing, snotty-nosed baby, I vehemently promised us both it would never happen again.
Truth be told he’s locked himself in that room more than once, but now I know how to get to him.
Stand Up Already, Will You???
Boy number two had a rough second year of life…I must admit.
I was getting him dressed for the evening, trying to put on his pajamas. He was having another one of his too-tired-to-cope meltdowns, and absolutely would not stand up for me.
Again, (recognizing a theme here?) out of pure frustration I took his arm and pulled directly up on it, trying to get him upright to complete the ensemble.
Immediately his cries took on an urgency I had yet to hear from him. His arm hung limply on his side and I stared at him hoping to hell I hadn’t just injured him.
Except, I knew that I had.
My husband ran upstairs to see what was the matter, trying to convince me the child was simply tired and needed to be put to bed. My nurse-momma gut knew better, as I stared at the way he was holding his arm to his side. I slowly tried to lift it up to check the damage, and his wails grew more intense, but he was not able to resist the movement at all.
I scooped him up, now fully dressed in his jammies, and rushed him to the closest children’s hospital. I was so ashamed of what I had done and scared to death they would take him away from me. I was sure they would think he was in an abusive environment and I would be left to defend something undefendable.
To my great relief there was absolutely no judgement from my fellow healthcare workers. In fact, there was an attitude of immense empathy, as this lovely pediatrician explained that nursemaid’s elbowwas in-fact very common among kiddos his age. Typically a result of an afternoon walk gone awry, as the caregiver simply lifted the child’s arm in attempt to save them from falling to the street after a sidewalk stumble.
I watched with great relief and surprise as this wonderful person gently put the bones in my baby’s arm back in their place. After a brief moment of discomfort, he was again able to move his arm normally and for the first time since it happened, smiled up at me.
We left moments later with a sticker for him, and a great sense of relief and gratitude for me.
As I write these words I am contemplating the driving force prompting me to share my weakest mommy moments with the world.
As with everything I write, it is with the hope that you may find some truth in what I say, and comfort knowing you are not alone. While the rest of the world is pretending they are perfect parents, you and I know we are still learning how to be human beings.
It is our children and the lessons parenthood present that bring to light our faults and opportunity to grow. I know for sure it is through these experiences that I have grown the most, learning that unconditional love and forgiveness are the true path to a greater life. Especially when you extend that love and forgiveness to yourself.
Please feel free to share your own mommy-mishaps. Human nature locked inside with guilt and shame only imprison your soul. Human nature shared is so freeing, bringing peace and love to your heart.