Today marks an anniversary that’s painful to remember. Two years ago, I dropped my baby.
And he fractured his skull.
The day had started out like any other: full of Cheerios, teething toys, and lazy, morning feeds on the couch. I carried my son across the living room towards the kitchen, same as I had done a thousand times before, same as I would do a thousand times after.
And that was when it happened.
With all the strength and speed of a tiny acrobat, my son flipped backwards out of my arms and onto the floor. In mere seconds, a perfectly normal day turned into an absolute nightmare.
Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Most of us have had at least one of those days in our lives: a day when your world comes crashing down upon you, knocking you over with the suddenness of its ferocity. A day that you look back on, and simply wonder, “How could this have happened?”
We rushed to the ER with a whimpering baby and this mama in tears. As a tiny, hospital band was slipped over my son’s wrist, the nurse assured us that they saw this all this time. “I dropped my baby once,” she said with a sympathetic smile, “except I dropped my baby on a concrete parking lot.”
That nurse had taken one look at me and seen the crushing weight of mom-guilt I was struggling to carry. While there was some small measure of comfort found in the fact that I wasn’t the first mom to drop her child, it didn’t relieve the feelings of failure that washed over me. To make matter worse, when the doctors called for an x-ray, they discovered the injury that I had dreaded the most — a fractured skull.
I was angry at myself for letting this happen, for somehow not predicting this and catching my son. My little boy had trusted me to protect him and to keep him from harm, and I’d quite literally let him down.
I felt like the world’s worst mother.
Motherhood is full of difficult lessons, and this one felt especially tough.
Try as we might, we cannot protect our children from everything. There will be days when we fall short. Days when our feelings of failure and guilt thrive on imperfect moments. Days when life is difficult and complicated. Days when we feel unworthy and broken. Days when our kisses aren’t strong enough to rub away the pains and hurts our children carry.
Today we might feel like a failure-of-a-mother, but we are more than our bad days.
These miserable, distressing, all-round-awful days serve as not-so-gentle reminders to savour life. Accidents happen. Life is fragile. It’s moments like these that remind us to never take these days for granted but to soak up each and every snuggle, each breath, and each precious laugh.
Motherhood is not defined by any single action, but rather, by the whole. I look at myself and see a woman who failed to grab her son in time. My son looks at me and sees “mom” — the one who comforts and holds him when he falls.
So to all the mothers struggling with a miserable day of your own, and to the mothers fighting feelings of inadequacy and inescapable mom-guilt — you are MORE than today.
Today does not define your motherhood.
Today may be horrible, but that DOESN’T mean that YOU are.