Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The One With the Baby Finger


Mama said there’d be days like this…

Well, no. She didn’t. In fact, if Mama had told you that, you might not have had kids. I got a phone call at 10:00 p.m. a few nights ago. One of the boys brought me the phone. “It’s Ruth, and she sounds pretty upset.” Yes, she was pretty upset. She tried to tell me through her sobs what the problem was. As soon as I heard the words “baby” and “fingernail clipper” I knew immediately what had happened. It took me right back to the very first time that I was a terrible mom. There have been so many times since then, that I have stopped counting. But that first one… it really has stuck with me.

It was the time when I called DK, crying hysterically, and told him he had to come home from work… right now… because I had cut the baby. I was trimming his fingernails, and suddenly, that little crunch that I feel/hear when I clip a nail…was followed immediately by a shriek of pain from the tiny newborn baby. I almost couldn’t bear to look, and when I did, I saw that I had not clipped the nail, but in fact taken a little nip out of the finger, which was now bleeding. My new baby, the tiny person that every instinct told me to protect with my life, was damaged, and I had inflicted that damage. I still get a little sick to my stomach thinking about it.

In the grand scheme of things, it was the tiniest of blips on the radar. My parenting errors have grown with the children… bigger, better… each more impressive than the last. Have twenty-three years of being a parent perhaps made me a little bit calloused? When Skippy was a newborn, we were asked if he could play the baby Jesus in a live nativity that is offered one weekend each December. The nativity is called “Follow the Star,” and it is really beautiful. I was pretty excited about it, and we arrived at the event at the same time as another couple, whose baby was scheduled to participate. As we arrived, a few raindrops began to fall. The “show” goes on in any case except very hard rain, so we dressed him in his swaddling clothes. Just before the first show, the other mother came to me, and asked anxiously, “Are you going to let your baby be in the nativity, even if it is raining?” I said yes, looking at the nice lady who was Mary that evening, thinking that she would certainly keep Skippy safe and dry. The other mother (who, by the way, was my age) said, “How many kids do you have, again?” I replied that Skippy was my seventh. She said, “Oh. That explains it. This is our first baby. We are very careful with him.” I still find that remark to be hilarious. I thought to myself, “Yup, he is number seven. We don’t even put him in a car seat. We just strap him to the top of the car.” So, because of a few raindrops, Skippy got to star in each and every performance that night. It was magical to sit in the audience, and hear someone’s breath catch in surprise and awe when a little baby hand reached up from the bundle Mary cradled in her arms, and to hear someone whisper, “Oh look! The baby Jesus is real!” What a great memory. Even if he is my seventh baby.

I really don’t know that there are such things as parenting callouses. Each little person you welcome into your home opens you up to a whole new world of hurt. And joy. That is how it works. So, Saturday night: “It’s okay, Ruth. Don’t cry. Just put a band-aid on him. He’ll be okay.” “I don’t HAVE a band-aid," she wailed.” “Okay, stop crying. I’ll be there in five minutes.” An hour and a half, four homemade chocolate chip cookies, a dab of Neosporin and one very tiny band-aid later, everyone had stopped crying and I went home. Ruth’s first bad-parenting moment. And so it begins...

6 comments:

with love, r said...

I don't know why...but this one made me cry. I guess I fear future oopses.
Thank you so much for the computer help...it helped. :)

Lisa--aka The Gardenweasel said...

I want to say something brilliant or touching but really, this post just made me want a cookie.

Victoria said...

Well, you know where to go if you want a fresh cookie. McDonald's, that's where. Fresh baked TOTES of cookies. Each tote holds up to 22 cookies. And when the cookies are gone, you can use the tote as a chic purse. Or you could just come to my house, where there are always fresh cookies.

Erika said...

So, here I am, trying to save money, cutting the boys hair when they are toddlers and the Wahl shaver somehow shreds the skin behind their ears. Talk about cringing and feeling bad. Did it stop the first time? No. Did it over and over. I did eventually learn how to do it correctly.

Victoria said...

Ahhh. Erika. I can do you one better. So you know those Mr. Clean Magic Erasers? They really are magic. They take crayon off walls, etc. etc.? So Skippy used to write on himself with sharpie markers. I know... you're thinking, "Why don't you just be a good mom and keep the Sharpies out of Skip's reach?" Well, that is obviously not how I roll. So I had the bright idea: if it will take sharpie off a wall, why NOT Skippy's legs? It started out well. It was working. A minute or so in, and Skippy began to cry. The next day there were SCABS everywhere I had rubbed...it took off that top layer of skin. Child abuse!!!

Jessica said...

Today I had Jif in my back pack carrier and as I was walking out the door I didn’t realize that he was leaning so far out and smack, his head hit the door frame. I felt horrible. It was the first time that I had hurt him and now he has a big goose egg on his head. When Josh came home from school I told him that I felt like throwing up because I was so upset that I hurt my baby. It’s funny that you mention feeling sick about a little baby finger because that is how I felt about a bump on the head. He only cried for a few minutes but I still feel like crying. Mama certainly did say there would be days like this.