I really appreciate the comments and emails regarding the last few posts. A lot of this is easier for me to write than it is to say out loud, but getting feedback on it is the hardest part. It’s like, you think you have something figured out and then someone comes in and completely sets your plan on its head. Or just gives you a perspective you didn’t have and makes you feel a whole different way about everything. It’s tough, but ultimately good.
A lot of you suggested, rightly, that I need to forgive myself and remember that accidents happen. And on many levels, I agree with you on this. But I think one of the reasons I can’t brush Eli’s injury and this most recent tumble off is because they weren’t really accidents.
To me, there’s a difference between an accident and a mistake, and it’s an important distinction. Eli falling off the bed was a mistake. He never should’ve been on the bed or anywhere near the edge. I put him there, knowing the potential consequences. It was a mistake. Eli falling down the stairs was another mistake. I should’ve been watching him, especially in a house with that many easily accessed stairs. I dazed off for a few seconds and it happened. Those were mistakes. They were preventable and predictable, not the work of chance, but the work of poor decision making.
This doesn’t mean that I’m going to beat myself up for all eternity (at least not intentionally) for those mistakes, but I also can’t just shrug them off as if they were not a big deal. And distinguishing them from accidents does make it easier for me to punish myself in a way, but it also makes me feel like I’m not doomed to have these things happen over and over again. If what happened to Eli was a mistake, then I can do better next time. If it was an accident, then there’s nothing I can do.
I realize I’ve been too hard on myself, that I’ve been very negative toward myself and my parenting skills. I think a big part of it is because when I thought of what a good mom was, I thought of something that didn’t exist. In my mind, a good mom is loving, sacrifices everything, keeps her kids safe and sets good boundaries. They do everything right and nothing wrong. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that this kind of mother doesn’t exist. She just doesn’t.
I love this child more than I have ever loved anything, and with an intensity that I didn’t even know was possible. I would walk to the ends of the earth for him, there is literally nothing I wouldn’t do. And I think that is what should really be the definition of a good mother. I am going to make mistakes, I know this, I have already made many, but I’m guided by love for my child and I am learning each day from these mistakes.
I know that I need to be gentler to myself, to be more positive and more forgiving, and I want to, I truly do. But I’m finding it much harder than it sounds. Even when I consciously decide to try harder to be positive and gentle with myself, my subconscious doesn’t always get on board. I know that all of this is going to take time, and it really is something I’m working on.
I want Eli to see a mother who is happy, healthy and who loves him dearly. I don’t want him to see the worries or regrets. I think I’ve done an okay job of keeping those things from him, but I know that as he grows older, I need to try harder. I need to do better and be better and if I can’t do it for myself, I am going to have to do it for him.