Welcome to my first podcast episode. The first six episodes I have created a series about “Embracing Grace”. Episode 1 is all about giving yourself grace when something happens to your child, either through something you did or because of something you should have, could have or even tried to prevent. Read along or click the link (photo) below and listen in. I hope that you walk away feeling encouraged and a little less lonely and scared. I hope that you hear that you should give yourself some grace.
After Joe was born, I lived in fear of messing everything up. I was sure that because of my age (40 years old) that someone was watching and waiting for me to mess up as a mom so that they could take him away from me. It didn’t help that my husband questioned every little bump, scrape, and bruise he received. It wasn’t that he was trying to foster my fear. I understand now that he was oftentimes working 12 hour shifts 7 days a week and that was his way of feeling like he was having input in our family. Was it right, probably not, but understanding more about what triggers us and how we respond to situations helps me understand that was how he responded. We have both grown in the last six years.
It was a hot day in July. Joe was 9 months old and we had just gotten home from an outdoor wedding. When I walked in to the door of the house I put Joe down on the floor in the living room and I ran down the basement steps to let the dogs out. Joe was busy with a toy and was happy and content. I came back up the steps and quickly changed my clothes and grabbed a change of clothes for Joe. I had stripped him down to his diaper before we left the wedding because the poor kid was sweating something fierce. I changed my clothes. At this point, Joe was crawling around the first floor of the house following me back and forth. I picked him up and put him back in the living room. Then I went to go let the dogs back in to the house.
I remember very clearly shutting the basement door behind me. I didn’t latch it completely because I wanted the first dog up to be able to push through the door. Otherwise, I get three dogs standing at the top of the steps and I had to try and crawl over two Weimaraner’s and a lab/terrier mix to try and open the door.
The first two dogs came running in right away, but Ben, our stop and smell the roses dog, did not come right away when called. I called a couple of more times and then shut the door to go check and make sure the other two dogs got up the stairs. As I rounded the corner to the steps, I heard Joe start screaming. My heart sank. There he was at the bottom of our steps, scratched, bruised, and just screaming. I immediately ran to him, swooped him up and held him. I couldn’t get him to calm down. I could only think “What if something is broken and I can’t tell?” What if he hit his head and he is bleeding internally, and his brain is swelling?” All the while the worst case scenarios were running through my head I also had another voice telling me “You are so dumb” “They are going to take him away for sure” “You are going to lose your baby, your precious miracle” “Maybe they will even put you in jail for neglect”.
It was a Saturday afternoon, so an emergency visit to the dr’s office was out of question. To be completely honest I was so conflicted. I wanted to get him checked out because I was very scared something could be wrong with him, but I also didn’t want to take him because I just knew they would take him away from me for forever.
I called Dan at work and told him what happened. My fears were confirmed when he reacted. He was furious. He started telling me how irresponsible I was and shooting question after question my way to investigate where I went wrong. When I would respond, he would say “Why did you do that?” or “Why didn’t you do that?” I started sobbing. He told me he would meet me at the ER. At this point, Joe has thrown up so there was no question in my head that I would be taking Joe to the emergency room. I quickly packed him up and took him in. The receptionist got us in quickly. I will say this, I do have a lot of complaints about communication with dr’s, but each time I have taken Joe to the emergency room they have treated him with immediate care.
Dr’s and nurses came in and talked with me while checking Joe over. Joe at this point was happy, bubbly and thoroughly enjoying the attention that he was receiving from everyone. I was starting to calm down as she told me a story of a time when her kid had gotten hurt as a baby. While a nurse was checking us in and asking all the registration questions, Dan arrived. He stomped into the room. I’m not even exaggerating this. The nurse that was in the room quickly left. Dan right away started in on telling me once again how irresponsible I was and “how dumb can you be” statements. If I tried to touch Joe, he would bat my hands away.
What I didn’t know was that the nurse had gone to retrieve my calvary. It was only a couple of minutes and in swooped 4 or 5 dr’s and nurses into the room. They stationed themselves around Dan but leaned casually around. To be honest, my initial thought was that they were coming in to tell us that they were taking Joe away. It wasn’t until later when I was completely calm that I realized that they were there to protect me. Note, I do not think that Dan would ever physically harm me, but the words he was flinging at me at the time hurt just as much. I was a failure. Once they were there the words stopped. A dr examined Joe and looked him over. As he did, he told the story of how one day when his kid was just a few months old he had placed the baby in the car seat and then put the car seat on top of the countertop so he could grab something else. Somehow the car seat fell… forward… with the baby in it to the ceramic kitchen floor below. He said “Sometimes accidents happen. You’re a new parent and learning right along with the baby.” I’ll never forget because he looked at me and said “You’ll never be able to protect him from everything. God made babies to be flexible. They are resilient little creatures.” He told us our options and gave his recommendations. We opted to follow his best recommendation which was to go home and monitor him for any signs of a concussion.
For days and weeks I beat myself up over this incident. Every time I looked at Joe I saw myself as a failure. I wondered when CPS was going to come to my door or when Dan was going to file for divorce and take Joe away from me.
Here is what I have learned in the last six years. The doctors and nurses were right. Kids are going to do things and sometimes things are going to happen because of something you did. It’s life. Ironically, almost a year to the day Joe fell down the steps that go to our second level. This time he had started to walk down the steps and turned to grab my hand. Being little his movements were wild and loopy and he lost his balance. I grabbed wildly for his arm, but could not grab him fast enough before he fell. I thought finding him at the bottom of the steps was hard, but actually watching him fall knowing I didn’t grab him fast enough was even harder. Do you know what? So many more things have happened. He has fallen, tripped, banged his head, been bitten by the dog. So many things. What I have had to learn is that the doctor was right. I can’t protect him from everything. Especially now that he is six and knows everything and completely disregards any advice I offer him.
So, I am learning to offer myself grace. To assume I can completely protect him is setting myself up for failure and disappointment. I can’t do that. I am learning to put my trust for my son’s future in God’s hands. It isn’t easy, but I am learning. And as I build this trust with God, I also expand the pool of grace that I have for myself.
Things are going to happen friends. Even right in front of you. Sometimes it is because you didn’t completely latch the door and you will want to berate yourself for a lifetime because you should have just latched the door and climbed over the dogs to open it when you were ready. Sometimes it will be because your kid turned to yell something at you and you watch them slam in to a pole because they didn’t heed your screams to look/stop. Maybe you grasped wildly at the air as you watch them fall. Maybe they slide right off the slide because they still won’t put their feet down when they reach the bottom. Sometimes it is something you could have prevented. Learn from it and give yourself some grace. Sometimes it is because your child did something that maybe you should have intervened to keep from happening. Let them learn from it and give yourself some grace.
Just as a side note, I oftentimes still make Joe hold my hands going down the steps if we are together. I snap when he is playing and goofing around on steps. I am probably overboard about us being on steps lol. The memories are still there, it hasn’t gone away, but I no longer tell myself I am a failure because of it. God didn’t make a mistake when He gave me my son. He gave me the son and the experiences I needed in my life. He did the same for you. Give yourself some grace.
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