A friend called me a few weeks ago and I knew the minute I heard her voice that something was wrong. Long story short, her 1-year-old daughter had fallen down the stairs, she was panicked about what to do and immediately called me. Why me? I'm not a nurse, pediatrician or doctor of any sort -- but I am a mom who had done something we moms don't do often enough. I had admitted to my friend, about a year ago, that Pippi had fallen down our stairs -- so I was the first person my friend thought to call.
In our ongoing efforts to be Super Mom (and Super Wife, Super Friend, Super Daughter, Super Sister and Super Employee, all rolled into one), I think we often forget (or are afraid) to confess our disasters to friends who need to know that we're not as perfect as we're trying to be. But the truth is, none of us is alone in these failings -- and it's so much easier to bear when we know that.
So when Pippi fell down the stairs that day -- after she had stopped crying and I had recovered from the agony of watching her tumble and bounce 14 times onto the (faux) wood floor, racing behind her but unable to catch her -- I called my friend, told her the story, and said, "One day, this, or something like it, is going to happen to you and Baby L. And you will cry and gnash your teeth and think that you are a bad mother. And then you will remember this conversation, you will remember that it happened to me, and you will know that babies with very good mommies still sometimes get bumps and bruises."
It turned out that Baby L, just like Pippi, was fine -- and it took both of us moms much longer to recover than it did our daughters. But after the fact, Baby L's mom reminded me what an important gift of friendship it was to know we are not alone in our less-stellar parenting moments.
And now, in the spirit of friendship, five failings in my 4+ years of motherhood so that maybe you'll feel less alone in yours:
- Pippi fell down the stairs: I think we've covered that story, but it was totally my fault and I can still see her face as she fell. Thank goodness she has such a hard head.
- Junius fell off the bed: He was probably about 18 months, jumping on my bed. I reached to grab him, he thought we were playing chase and tumbled off the side, hitting his head on the table on his way down. A heart-breaking sound.
- Pippi fell off the couch: She was less than 6 weeks old. I don't know how she wiggled off, but she did. Face plant on the hardwood floors. Even as a second-time mom, I was terrified that I had broken her forever.
- Junius rode in the car unbuckled: He was a few months old, riding in his infant car seat snapped into the stroller through the mall. I unbuckled him to nurse while we were shopping, then put him back in. When we got home, I realized I never clipped the seat belt back and had driven home that way. The "what-ifs" nearly drowned me.
- Pippi ran into the parking lot: We were at the N.C. Farmer's Market with friends, all four kids playing so nicely. Suddenly, my friend shouts Pippi's name and I realize she's somehow about to step into traffic. Don't know how she got there, but I nearly broke my ankle racing to snatch her out of the road. Took hours for my heart rate to slow back to normal.