Feeling Guilty

accidents, Ember, guilt, Lisa Bullard, toddler -

Feeling Guilty

Ember tumbled down a staircase last week!

I was following right behind her but wasn’t quick enough to catch her fall! She rolled from top to bottom - thank goodness the stairs were carpeted. She made it through with only a little bruise. My heart still thumps like a drum in my chest when I think of it.

Ember stopped crying within minutes, but it took me most of the rest of the day to calm down.

Besides the shock and fear of seeing her falling and being helpless to stop her from hurt, I felt so guilty for allowing her to go to the stairs without holding my hand. I wondered if I could ever let her use stairs again. It seemed like I had failed at the motherhood thing, letting this little being, who I am assigned to protect, take such a tumble. What if it had been worse?

As the shock slowly wore off, I was left with the dismal awareness of how truly out of control we are over our children’s lives. That is what left my hands trembling. Luckily for me, my family had all been with me and had also watched Ember fall and had also felt scared, shocked, powerless, and guilty. They helped me talk through it. My mom, especially, helped me understand that all children have accidents sometimes, despite their parents' best efforts.

My mother is an early childhood professor.

She told me it is important to allow children chances to take risks. Like allowing them to try and climb stairs, for instance. We can manage the risks (like by being with them when they are learning to climb up and down stairs) but we can’t prevent every accident. Without taking both physical and emotional risks, she explained, children would never learn to walk, to climb, to leave their parent’s sides . . .

I remember when Ember was merely a few months old, just a tiny little being - she seemed so fragile. I wondered how I would manage the fear that came with motherhood. Another mother told me that she looked at her daughter as a gift that she was allowed to take care of, and that was all she could do, take care of her. Though it was a simple thing to say, it felt profound to me. For some reason, that thought has offered me solace and soothed my fears many times.

I feel guilty about Ember’s accident and wish I could have prevented it

Guilt is another emotion that seems to be amplified with motherhood! It reminds me to be thankful for every day we have together.

What are your thoughts on risks in childhood, or fears that come with parenthood? You can share your thoughts at a NBNP Mother's Circle.

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