Kids are amazingly resilient creatures. Not only emotionally, but physically. It never ceases to surprise me what a child can bounce back from. Over the years, I've seen children sustain a variety of injuries that would make an adult cringe. Broken collarbones, broken arms, busted lips and teeth, stitches to the head.
Last week my daughter was complaining about her ankle. It hurt. Of course, I heard her say it hurt, but I think I heard the whine more. "It huuuurrrttttsssssss," echoed in my brain repeatedly as she limped around before taking off in a full sprint after one of the dogs or giggling as she jumped around playing games. Hurts my foot, I thought, eyes rolling. How badly can your ankle hurt when you're throwing frosting at your mom during a frosting fight? How bad can it be when your chasing your dog across the yard or taking a leisurely walk around the neighborhood?
This child has grown tremendously in the past few months. My guess would be close to two inches in height, and a full shoe size, in two months. I figured if she was having some pains, they were simply growing pains, because she's had those before. So I brushed off the whining until last night, when she tripped over a box (darn those new longer feet) and came to me limping and whining again. There was a little swelling and some slight bruising, and I thought, uh-oh. This can't be good.
So we iced and medicated and went to the doctor today. Two hours later, she's on crutches and I'm eating a nice big crow. Of course, that's her favorite part...knowing that her mom is feeling incredibly guilty. I probably would have been the same way as a kid.
I have seen parents do this to themselves over and over again. Regardless of the child's age, we sometimes mess up with judgment calls. We think we nail it right and roll the dice, only to find out we were wrong. And then most of us torture ourselves over it. But seriously, what good does the torture do? To remind us that we didn't do it perfectly every time?
Since sharing my latest faux pax with my friends, I've heard numerous stories from moms who have made the same types of mistakes as me. The reality is that we do our best and go on. Let the guilt go, moms...it doesn't better you as a parent.
As I got my daughter in bed, pillows under her feet and an ice pack on her ankle, she grinned and said, "I bet you're feeling really bad." I looked her in the eye and I said, "nope...just sorry that your ankle hurts...i know it's not a lot of fun to have to rest it. Next time watch out for the boxes."
The grin disappeared as she processed the fact that Mom wasn't going to be held emotionally hostage anymore for a normal mistake. Then she adjusted the television, got comfortable, and picked up her latest novel to read.
I'm hoping that by letting my own guilt go, I'm teaching her a bit about letting guilt go herself. That people make mistakes and it's okay. We all survive them (well, usually), and while guilt serves as a reminder, it shouldn't govern the way we live our lives.