Accidents Happen: The Realities of Parenthood

In becoming a mom I accepted the responsibility of watching over my child. Navigating the often hectic streets of New York City with my daughter, I make painstaking efforts to see and hear everything – the bikers speeding on the sidewalk, the construction and scaffolding above, the cars zooming along the highway, the deafening noise of the sirens. One afternoon while trying to cross the street a truck nearly swiped the stroller – thankfully I was paying attention and we both walked away unharmed, but my awareness was permanently heightened. My one job is to protect my child. With all the attention to detail and the strong desire to control even the tiniest bit of our universe, she winds up getting hurt in our home and on my watch – accidents happen. 

Accidents Happen: The Realities of Parenthood

In respect to the greater world and the plethora of daily tragedies, her injuries were minor. Only days apart she slid into a door, cutting her head, and then face planted hard on the floor leaving a spotted trail of blood. These accidents were in some ways totally avoidable and that is the reason I’m having a difficult time forgiving myself. I am confidently aware that I’m not a perfect person, a perfect mom, or a perfect wife, but it’s frustrating to accept the notion that accidents happen – how is that the final answer when it concerns the well being of a child? I know these incidents in particular were not my fault, at least in my rational mind, but the incessant feelings of guilt haven’t left my side.

On every report card I received growing up, before the numeric grades, my teachers wrote conscientious – my desire to do the right thing started long before I would call myself a mom. I know I’m not alone – I just want to keep my child safe, is that so hard to ask? If the news tell us anything though, apparently it is.

Regardless of my feelings, I sensed there was a lesson to be learned in all of this. The sad reality is that despite all of our valiant and sincere efforts as parents, accidents do happen. I can keep my daughter safe on the streets of New York City, but pulling up her sagging pants sends her flying across the living room floor – it doesn’t make sense, but that’s the frustrating part about accidents – they never do.

I am fortunate beyond belief for the minor bumps and bruises I’ve witnessed as a parent thus far and my guilt will eventually fade, I know this. I’ve come to realize that a huge part of parenting is learning to let go and accept the realities I can not control – this is a huge hurdle for my conscientious and reflective mind.

I wish I had a shred of wisdom to share, but I can only offer you my experience and understanding. My heart grew tenfold when I became a parent and seems it these feelings are here to stay – it’s the deal we make with love – it’s never fully lets you go.

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8 Responses to Accidents Happen: The Realities of Parenthood

  1. Skye November 3, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    I once held my toddler upside down, which he loved, and then flipped him right side up and set him down… but didn’t give him enough time before I let go. Feet slipped, head cracked on the hard tile. So that one was even my fault! But I’ve come to believe that accidents happen to everyone, even grownups, there’s no way we can avoid them completely.

    • Anna Julien November 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

      Thank you for sharing your story Skye – makes me feel better! It’s hard to accept sometimes, but you are totally right – accidents do happen!

  2. WriterMom Angela November 3, 2014 at 6:40 pm #

    I am with you, I tried my very best to keep my children from ever having a ouchie of any sort, but inevitably it happens and what’s worse sometimes we even cause it! I will also never forget the first time my child was hurt and I realized they were too big for me to scoop up and make it better, I had to sit down next to them instead because I couldn’t lift them!

  3. Regina November 3, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

    Beautiful shows your bond and unconditional love for your little one. As Skye mentioned, accidents do happen and when they do they do not define your value as a parent. As protective parents, the best we can do is to be there to catch them when they fall. 😉

  4. Jill @ Do Try This at Home November 3, 2014 at 9:25 pm #

    I have a good friend who was holding her son’s hand when he tripped, fell, and ended up needing stitches in his forehead! You really can only do so much. 🙁 Now my own baby ate broken glass while I was standing a foot away…but you know…what can you do? Besides memorize the number of the pediatrician?

  5. Joanna @Makingmine November 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    This is one of the most difficult things to accept as a parent. Mu daughter is 16 months old and now that she’s entered the toddler stage, bumps and bruises are a common occurrence. It gets a little easier over time. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Alexis November 6, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    It’s so hard to be forgiving of yourself. Last week my 15-month old dashed into the bathroom and grabbed my RAZOR before I could stop her, and she cut her thumb. It ended up being ok and didn’t even need any stitches. But holy cow, I felt like the worst mother in the world. But I figure that’s balanced out by all the times I’ve stopped her from putting a choking hazard in her mouth, or blithely stepping off the top of the slide at the playground. I think it’s easy to overlook all the ways we stop them from offing themselves daily. Overall we’re doing ok 🙂

  7. BabyBrownSugar November 8, 2014 at 1:05 am #

    I’m a first-time mom as well and I literally experience mommy guilt at least once a day. I can totally relate. I sat my daughter in a shopping cart at the grocery store for the first time about a month ago and she was so excited she literally was touching everything. Of course, the first time mommy in me didn’t realize I should’ve had a shopping cart cover on and the next day she had the sniffles and watery eyes. I felt SO horrible. Like the worst mom on earth for leaving her susceptible to shopping cart germs. A few days later her sniffles were gone. And my mommy guilt went with them. We’ve all been there! It will pass. And we’ll mess up again and again. As long as you’re trying your best, that’s all your little one can ask for!

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