I make so many mistakes as a parent. I say things and do things that I wish I could just rewind and erase. Usually I end up making them and then I sit and feel the guilt welling up inside of me for not being a better parent. I’ve already written notes of apology to the boys and tucked them in their baby boxes. Every once in a while though, I do something right without even thinking about it. A while back I had a very bad accident. Because we were on vacation, all four boys went with me to the emergency room and saw some pretty bloody, and scarey images It took me about three months before I could get back to doing routine things routinely and that included my rituals with the boys. Once I’d healed enough to get back in the groove of things, we all felt better that we were getting back to “normal”.
One night I went to lay down with my then 8 year old. Sammy is the most compassionate of the boys and as I gingerly laid down beside him for his five minutes of quiet time he asked me
“Mommy, does it hurt yet?”.
“What” I asked, unsure of what he was referring to.
He said “Your body, does it hurt yet?”
“Well yes, honey”, I stammered, “it’s hurt since I fell”.
Sammy looked confused and said:
“But you told me when you were laying in the emergency room you told me grown ups don’t feel pain like kids do and that it didn’t hurt you.”
I thought back for a moment and said,
“Well hon, I don’t remember saying that, but sometimes mommies and daddies say things because they don’t want their children to feel pain. I knew how much it would hurt you to know mommy was hurting so I may have said that to keep you from feeling sad.”
Not sure how he’d process my story, I watched as his eyes looked up to the ceiling. After a moment he looked back and said
“Your welcome Sam” I said as I got up to leave the room.
As I went to pull the door shut I saw him roll over toward his wall. In a quiet voice I could barely hear Sammy said:
“You’re the best mom in the whole world”.
My eyes filled with tears as I walked down the hall. Without knowing it that night in the emergency room some three months earlier I’d done something that gave my son comfort. It was pure instinct that night and thankfully what I said made my little boy less worried in the months that followed. I’m writing this down because I know that so often we feel like this parenting thing is just too hard. We feel like no matter how hard we try, we’re just not cutting it. I’m writing this down because we all need to realize that sometimes, no matter what the challenges, we get it right. And THOSE are the times our children remember.
Those are the times we need to remember too.