Last weekend, my toddler hurt herself in her arm while playing in the park. I rushed towards her, she was crying her lungs out, and the moment I touched her left arm, she screamed “No” a dozen times. I thought she has broken a bone, and between tears, I called my husband saying “I think she has a broken bone! We need to rush to the doctor.” All this while I was moving on a super sonic speed holding and comforting her. She wouldn’t let me touch her left arm. Her father was home that evening – I rushed inside and blabbered “Pack her water and diapers, we need to get to the hospital.”
He held her, kissed and asked her what happened. She muttered hurt in between the tears that would not stop. She did not move her left arm, and all the gestures, like wiping her tears were taken care of with her right arm only. Soon, we were in the car and she started to talk like nothing happened. When we reached the hospital, she was holding both our hands with both hers, one each side. The doctor said both arms are good, and there seems to be no swelling and all was fine.
We heaved a sigh of relief, and came back home. Since it had been somewhat of a happening day, she slept immediately. There was no sign of pain, and she was at peace.
But I wasn’t.
My husband is not someone who panics, so when he suggested we wait an hour or two, I blasted like a volcano because I feel guilty. Guilty of causing her hurt. Like, what was I doing sitting there? Shouldn’t I have been standing behind her, like a shadow?
While I was glad that she is there all fine and good, my child, I wondered what if she’s actually been hurt? Memories of last year came to me when one of my relatives’ child had a fracture and she was collectively blamed, you know, in subtle ways like “she’d have taken better care.”
That. I think those were the ‘judgements’ that made me panic. Panic as to what am I going to say? How will my in-laws react? What will people say? How will I justify that I was really doing my best taking care of her and everything that concerns her. How will I explain that I was sitting there, on a bench, looking at her, intently; and not having a gup-shup session with other mothers around. And I was sitting because I was tired. But can mothers feel tired.
Mothers can get tired, but not feel tired.
You get the gist.
Why do we have this so hard? The moment I told about the accident to my mom, she blurted out “what were you doing?” Though after that she said a couple of comforting lines too, but this one stuck. What else could I or any other mother, be possibly have to do other than watch our kids, right?
They are kids. You know, the species that cannot yet differentiate between what is to eat and what is not to be eaten. They will fall. They will hurt themselves when they are trying to learn new things. Well, they may hurt themselves even when they are sitting still on a bed. And that’s about it. It’s not the mother’s of the father’s or anyone else’s fault. Their age is at fault. Not you. Nor I.
That doesn’t mean that we let them out like they are the Mowglis, but that just means that we don’t take it so hard on ourselves. Don’t let panic take over your sensibilities. Accidents happen, they happen to young and old alike. But as mothers everytime your child falls off the bed or hurts himself in the park or at home, we tend to take ownership. I shouldn’t have been looking at my phone. I shouldn’t have been waving at a friend. I shouldn’t have been trying to have an adult talk with a friend over the phone. I know, I put way more than necessary salt in the daal and now her stomach growls.
Take a breather, a good one with a pause. It’s nice that you are doing everything in your capacity to raise your children the best way, but don’t think you own it all. Don’t take it so hard on yourself that you just have no other moment in your life. You are a mother, yes, but you are also a human. Don’t worry about what people will say, or what they will not – they don’t care because if they did they would be with you.
What matters is that you stay sane, happily with your child. You be assured that you are doing a great job of raising a wonderful child or children. Do not look for appreciation for this, because this won’t come your way. But be confident enough that you are doing the right thing. It is not wrong to steal a moment or a few hours chatting away, idling away, or just looking away. You are a human too. A child needs to be taken care of, but unless you take care of yourself, the child cannot be looked after.
Make a note. It’s not always you. Trust me.