Mothering or Even Optimists have Down Days

Like most personality traits, optimism has its up and down side in mothering. The upside is I worry somewhat less than other mothers and don’t tend to project anxious waves (though my sons will tell you otherwise). The down side is occasionally I don’t worry when I should.

 

When my oldest was a wee buglet, not yet turning over, we lived in a house with a loft and stairs so steep they were better described as a ladder. The bed was positioned right in the middle of the floor under the skylight and right beside the stairwell. The warm sun splashed across the bed and captivated the little buglet. He lay in it cooing and waving his arms. I stood beside him, next to the stairwell and folded laundry. When I was all done, I circled the bed and began putting clothes away in the dresser. It occurred to me that I shouldn’t leave the little guy so close to the edge but. . .he wasn’t even 4 months old yet. He’d never turned over before. I was only going to be away from his side a second.

 

As I worked, behind me I heard a thump and a startled wail. My stomach flipped. I whirled. The spot on the bed where I had left him was wiped clean. The house was utterly still. It was as if a giant hand had plunged through the roof, scooped him off the bed and took him into the sky.

 

I stood with my mouth hanging. Then, I flew around the bed and stared at the floor. He wasn’t there. I looked again. I looked at the ceiling. Then a curl of dismay blew into a raging inferno as I stared at the stairs. There was nothing on them and no sound. He had to have fallen down the stairs and he must be dead because there was no sound. None. Just awful stomach churning silence.

 

I raced down the stairs calling his name, pleading for a sound. I searched the area around the base with no success. At last I leaned my head on the lid of the laundry basket at the foot of the stairs gasping. I still strained my ears hoping for something and into the silence a small rustle strummed my tightly stretched hearing. I threw open the lid of the basket. There on a pile of dirty laundry lay my little Moses staring wide eyed up at me.

 

I remember that for a moment he almost smiled but I began sobbing in relief and his half smile turned to wails. I carefully pulled him into my arms and carried him to our favorite chair. I held him–crying long after he stopped.

 

No matter how optimistic, every mother knows that if your child does something once they are likely to repeat it. I never left him on the bed alone again.

 

Unsurprisingly, he didn’t turn over even once for another month.

 

Unsurprisingly, he is not an optimist.

 

Tip of the hat to Defiant Muse who reminded me of one of the stories I’d like to forget.

 

___________

Photo from a charitable organization with a bright outlook;>

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27 comments

  • For once, I don’t know what to say!

  • The stories of motherhood are a lot uglier than we’d like you to think. Sometimes I think kids grow up because they are destined to, not because we actually keep them safe.

  • The stories of motherhood are a lot uglier than we’d like you to think. Sometimes I think kids grow up because they are destined to, not because we actually keep them safe.

  • So did you put the date Buglet first rolled over into his baby book? Be very grateful you were behind in the laundry.

    I think we all remember the first time our little motionless lumps first squirm away from the place we set them. It’s always a shock but yours was by far the most dramatic, I’ll give you that.

  • So did you put the date Buglet first rolled over into his baby book? Be very grateful you were behind in the laundry.

    I think we all remember the first time our little motionless lumps first squirm away from the place we set them. It’s always a shock but yours was by far the most dramatic, I’ll give you that.

  • The date is in the journal under “I don’t think I’m fit to be a mother.”

  • The date is in the journal under “I don’t think I’m fit to be a mother.”

  • I don’t know how many times things like this happen for me. Not so dramatic maybe, but often little things pile up.
    Like the time I lost Demolition Boy in the mall when he was five. (The Scariest Most Terror Filled 10 minutes of my life).
    Or the time Train Boy kept telling me he didn’t feel good but I just thought he was “whining”. The poor thing puked for about twenty minutes.
    Things like that remind me I’ll never be a perfect mommy.

  • I don’t know how many times things like this happen for me. Not so dramatic maybe, but often little things pile up.
    Like the time I lost Demolition Boy in the mall when he was five. (The Scariest Most Terror Filled 10 minutes of my life).
    Or the time Train Boy kept telling me he didn’t feel good but I just thought he was “whining”. The poor thing puked for about twenty minutes.
    Things like that remind me I’ll never be a perfect mommy.

  • I used to think stories like this were just my terrible mothering but the more I was willing to tell my stories the more I heard stories back that showed every mother has tales that make us all sick. We do what we can but we are only human in a job that calls for superhuman saints who don’t need sleep.

  • I used to think stories like this were just my terrible mothering but the more I was willing to tell my stories the more I heard stories back that showed every mother has tales that make us all sick. We do what we can but we are only human in a job that calls for superhuman saints who don’t need sleep.

  • As you reported so well in an earlier Blog, one of my worst mothering experiences was to allow you to live with a broken wrist for a couple of weeks before taking you to the doctor. Bless Dr. Pearson’s heart…he saw how distraught I was and then told his own story of ignoring a broken bone in one of his own children. I didn’t sleep well for days after that incident but finally convinced myself that if even a doctor could make that kind of mistake, perhaps there was hope for this very young mother and her very first child.
    And, as we have all heard -“Babies aren’t born with an instruction manual.”

  • As you reported so well in an earlier Blog, one of my worst mothering experiences was to allow you to live with a broken wrist for a couple of weeks before taking you to the doctor. Bless Dr. Pearson’s heart…he saw how distraught I was and then told his own story of ignoring a broken bone in one of his own children. I didn’t sleep well for days after that incident but finally convinced myself that if even a doctor could make that kind of mistake, perhaps there was hope for this very young mother and her very first child.
    And, as we have all heard -“Babies aren’t born with an instruction manual.”

  • I’d like to see people tell these stories. I think with the realization that everybody makes mistakes will come understanding and better solutions to our childrearing practices. Because everybody, even really great moms (that’s you, Mom!) makes these kind of mistakes–mistakes that could be fatal or at least long term damaging–only luck keeps them from being disasters.

  • I’d like to see people tell these stories. I think with the realization that everybody makes mistakes will come understanding and better solutions to our childrearing practices. Because everybody, even really great moms (that’s you, Mom!) makes these kind of mistakes–mistakes that could be fatal or at least long term damaging–only luck keeps them from being disasters.

  • I think my scariest parenting moment came when DJ was about 4 years old. It was summer and the kids and I had been invited to go boating. We went, and after awhile we got out and sat on the lakeshore. I laid on a blanket with my eyes shut for a few moments…I swear it was not more than two minutes, and when I opened my eyes DJ was nowhere to be seen. There were a lot of people on the shore, and I started running around calling for him. All of a sudden there he was. I don’t know where he had been, but it sure scared me.

  • I think my scariest parenting moment came when DJ was about 4 years old. It was summer and the kids and I had been invited to go boating. We went, and after awhile we got out and sat on the lakeshore. I laid on a blanket with my eyes shut for a few moments…I swear it was not more than two minutes, and when I opened my eyes DJ was nowhere to be seen. There were a lot of people on the shore, and I started running around calling for him. All of a sudden there he was. I don’t know where he had been, but it sure scared me.

  • It’s amazing how these little moments can make you realize what a precious gift you have. As I read your story, I really felt like I was standing by your side because I’ve been there – done that. The amount of “mommy guilt” bestowed upon a person during this type of horrendous scare is truly amazing. I joked to my mom one day that I can’t wait until my kids get older so that everyone sleeps through the night. She told me I still won’t sleep because I’ll be wondering why they aren’t waking up ;o).

  • It’s amazing how these little moments can make you realize what a precious gift you have. As I read your story, I really felt like I was standing by your side because I’ve been there – done that. The amount of “mommy guilt” bestowed upon a person during this type of horrendous scare is truly amazing. I joked to my mom one day that I can’t wait until my kids get older so that everyone sleeps through the night. She told me I still won’t sleep because I’ll be wondering why they aren’t waking up ;o).

  • Aunt Jackie, I had that happen to me once and I still feel sick thinking about it. It was probably only 30 seconds but it felt like a lifetime.

    Sandi, Your mom is so right! I remember when they first started sleeping through the night, I would go stand next to them debating whether to touch them which might wake them up but would let me feel whether they were cold or not. The relief when they would sigh or wiggle was immense.

  • Aunt Jackie, I had that happen to me once and I still feel sick thinking about it. It was probably only 30 seconds but it felt like a lifetime.

    Sandi, Your mom is so right! I remember when they first started sleeping through the night, I would go stand next to them debating whether to touch them which might wake them up but would let me feel whether they were cold or not. The relief when they would sigh or wiggle was immense.

  • Kym,,, When I was a young parent (I won’t say how long ago for the sake of you know who) a bunch of us loaded our kids in strollers and went to the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena. It was a beautiful day and we laid out blankets and some food. All of a sudden I saw the strangest thing. A man wearing a suit and tie stood up and started to take his clothes off. He dropped his coat and tie and jumped into a nearby pond. A moment later he came up with my two year old nephew. We had all failed to see him wander off and slip into the pond. Shocked and grateful to the soaked gentleman, we packed up and left followed by the disapproving glares of the other people in the park. A near tragedy and a reminder to always keep an eye on the kids and to expect the worst.

  • Kym,,, When I was a young parent (I won’t say how long ago for the sake of you know who) a bunch of us loaded our kids in strollers and went to the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena. It was a beautiful day and we laid out blankets and some food. All of a sudden I saw the strangest thing. A man wearing a suit and tie stood up and started to take his clothes off. He dropped his coat and tie and jumped into a nearby pond. A moment later he came up with my two year old nephew. We had all failed to see him wander off and slip into the pond. Shocked and grateful to the soaked gentleman, we packed up and left followed by the disapproving glares of the other people in the park. A near tragedy and a reminder to always keep an eye on the kids and to expect the worst.

  • When people tell me they don’t have stories about their parenting like this, I start to feel pretty bad about myself. But actually the people I know as good people from my own experience almost always have a story or two like this (in my case, its more than one or two.) I’m convinced we need to bring more exposure to these incidents so that as a society we can figure out ways to parent better.

  • When people tell me they don’t have stories about their parenting like this, I start to feel pretty bad about myself. But actually the people I know as good people from my own experience almost always have a story or two like this (in my case, its more than one or two.) I’m convinced we need to bring more exposure to these incidents so that as a society we can figure out ways to parent better.

  • I think every mother has that moment when she thinks, “I can’t believe I just did that.” At the airport recently, I had my one year old in the stroller, not buckled in. After all, we were in a rush. We had paused to give my toddler a drink, when I lady said to us in broken English “baby baby.” We were thinking, “Yes, maam, we have a baby.” When we looked, Noelle had slipped through and the lap bar was across her neck. We picked her up, and yes, felt very stupid as another woman commented, “You’re supposed to buckle them in you know.” Yes, I knew and I do a much better job of it now. Experience is a good teacher, and grace is a great companion in moments like those.

    Thanks for your fun blog –
    Arlene Pellicane
    http://www.losingweightafterbaby.com

  • I think every mother has that moment when she thinks, “I can’t believe I just did that.” At the airport recently, I had my one year old in the stroller, not buckled in. After all, we were in a rush. We had paused to give my toddler a drink, when I lady said to us in broken English “baby baby.” We were thinking, “Yes, maam, we have a baby.” When we looked, Noelle had slipped through and the lap bar was across her neck. We picked her up, and yes, felt very stupid as another woman commented, “You’re supposed to buckle them in you know.” Yes, I knew and I do a much better job of it now. Experience is a good teacher, and grace is a great companion in moments like those.

    Thanks for your fun blog –
    Arlene Pellicane
    http://www.losingweightafterbaby.com

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