Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Bad Mother Moment

I've been told that it would happen eventually. I've heard stories of babies rolling off changing tables and I myself once caused my parents (and my babysitter) much stress by getting my head stuck betwen the railings of a balcony (it took butter or vaseline or something like that to help get my head out).
Mama moose and her baby

My moment came yesterday while (perhaps fittingly) we were checking out a mama moose and her baby in Grand Teton National Park. As we had done several times already during our tour of Yellowstone and the Tetons, I had him up on my shoulders for a good view (and to keep him from running into the river in front of us). He was alternating between playing a game on my iPhone and checking out the moose and I was holding his feet with both hands. I had already snapped a few photos and decided this would be a good time to put my camera away. I held on to his foot with one hand and went to put my camera away with the other.

Of course, it was in that moment that he arched back and his foot came loose from my hand. He fell from my shoulders and landed on the sandy rock combination below. I was mortified and I couldn't help but think that I had done permanent damage to my little guy. He was crying. I was frantically checking every inch of his body. Nothing visible. I found myself apologizing to Joe for what I had allowed to happen to our son (you may find this odd, but it was very natural somehow).

Then, I cuddled him close, gently rubbed his head and back and we walked back to our car. It was less than a 5 minute walk and before we even got to the car he had stopped crying and was back to checking everything out.

For him, it was over. For me, I am re-living that moment constantly. I'm still reeling with guilt and I frequenty find myself checking over my son's body to make sure he is ok. (It looks like he will have a bruise on his lower back, but other than that nothing out of the ordinary.) How could I be so careless? Obviously putting away my camera is not more important than my son's safety. How could I mix up my priorities so completely?

I'm trying not to be unnecessarily hard on myself. In fact, contrary to the title of this blog post I wouldn't even call myself a "bad" parent in that moment. Just human. Next time I am in a similar situation I will certainly be more careful. But the truth is that things like this may happen no matter how vigilant I am with him. Thankfully, my son is more resilient and more forgiving than I could have ever imagined. Also, thankfully, I have many friends and family members who have been forthcoming with their own "bad parent" stories to remind me that I'm not alone.
All is forgiven. Later that day in Jackson Hole, WY

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