The day Eli turned 14 months, he took a few steps. He had taken a few single steps before that day, but most of them seemed accidental. And then the next day, he took a few more. And then a week later, he was taking lots of steps. And for the past week, he’s been walking. Like, no longer crawls unless he needs to get under something. He just stands up and walks everywhere. He’s a toddler.
This is one of those double edged swords to me because on one hand, I was so worried and we waited SO long for him to walk and each day it didn’t happen just shoved the guilt further into me. On the other hand, with walking has come him falling. So much falling. Falling near sharp corners, falling near large items. Falling head first forwards, falling head first backwards. So much falling all day long. I know this is critical to the walking process, but dear God. So much falling.
The falling is hard for me because I don’t do well with Eli hurting himself, especially when it involves his head. I am struggling because my instinct is to bubble wrap him and give him a huge mom hug every time he falls, but at the same time, I know that’s not what’s best for him. And managing what’s best for my mental health and his physical wellbeing is not an easily reached balance and it’s a constant internal battle.
It’s in moments like this that I’m struggling the most with my anxiety issues. I want to be the best mother to my child. I want him to experience everything in this life, I want him to try new things, fail and succeed, and grow from his trials. I want him to be happy and well adjusted. But I also want him to be safe.
And I truly have no idea how, if it’s even possible, that I can do both. How can I keep him from bumping his face without restricting his freedom? How I can keep him from falling without stifling his need to climb (within reason)? How do I decide which need is greater? How do I know whether Eli needs to live his life freely or safely?
I just don’t know.
One of the things that I get told a lot is that parents make mistakes like mine every day, it makes me feel somewhat better because it’s a reminder that all of us mess up from time to time. But at the same time, it also unnerves me a bit. I have heard all the crazy ways kids have fallen off beds and counters and tables and somehow, my son is the only one to walk away injured. It makes me feel like there’s no way to know if anything is minor because something that was incredibly minor to other kids, was major to mine.
I know I wasn’t carefree before Eli got hurt, hell, I had been in therapy for months at that point, but I was doing really, really well. I would give almost anything to go back in time, to redo March 23rd so that I wouldn’t have to feel this way. So that Eli wouldn’t have to live with a mother who is afraid every day. So that I could sleep all the way through a night without trying to “rescue” my baby. So that none of us would’ve had to experience that trauma because while my struggles are the most obvious, I know I’m not the only one who was traumatized.