An honest take on life and parenthood

Forgive me, little bear, for I have sinned

on September 30, 2012

I really need one of these.

These are immutable truths:

  1. 1. A sick or tired child is a challenging child.
  2. 2. challenging child requires the patience of Job.
  3. 3. You are not Job.

I really love being a mother, and try to put myself in the Pooh’s little shoes as much as I can. But as any parent will tell you, being patient is easier on some days than others.

As I tell you the following story, keep in mind the context: The Pooh is two years old. She has had a bladder infection for over three weeks. She has a cold. And she is not a morning person.

Last Tuesday morning, she refused to get dressed. We had to go to the doctor for a 10 am appointment. I gave her two options of outfits, both of which she hated. I offered her two more. She hated those too.

With each outfit, I would slip one pantleg on, only to have her kick it off as I was sliding on the second leg.  I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it was. After four outfits and two time-outs (for her and for me, to be honest), I took a deep breath, and went back in to her room.

I took out a pair of white overalls, since they were easy and fast, and tried to slip them on her. We were now officially late.

She kicked off the overalls and cranked at me.

My nerves were so frayed by 45 minutes of this wretched behavior that I finally yelled, “Fine!”

I angrily swept her into my right arm, and simultaneously swept up the overalls and her shoes into my left. As I did that, the metal loop from her overalls swung out and hit her smack in the left eye.

She started screaming in pain, and I almost started crying, instantly overcome by terrible remorse.

I felt like complete and total crap.

The Pooh could not open her eye. She held it as she wailed, “My eye! My eye!” My mind started racing. Did I blind her? Was she going to lose an eye? Was she going to have a black eye?



I ran to create a cold compress for her eye, and then held and rocked her as she continued to cry uncontrollably. If I could have taken the blow to my eye myself instead, I would have.

Let me tell you: there is no worse feeling than causing pain to your child, even if it is inadvertent. You would do anything to turn back the hands of time and let the accident happen to you instead, but of course that is never possible.

After about fifteen minutes, the Pooh stopped crying and hiccupping and put down the compress. She could open her eye again. It appeared to be fine. She didn’t even end up with redness or swelling, miraculously enough.

She finally allowed me to dress her, and we drove peacefully to the doctor’s appointment, thirty minutes late.

Unlike an adult, she didn’t dwell on the fact that I had hurt her, and appeared to love me just as much as she had before (even if I personally thought I was not worthy). Of course, she felt compelled to tell her father and grandmother all about the incident later in great dramatic detail, which mortified me. But the embarrassment was a small price to pay for the relief I felt. Thank god her eye was fine.

So what is my point?

My point is this: you are human. No mother is perfect. Sometimes, you are going to accidentally hurt your little one, or she will get hurt on your watch. This will happen no matter how loving you are, and no matter how careful you are. It will happen in a fit of pique when your patience is worn down to a tired nub, or in the single instant that you turn your back and she falls.

When you hurt her accidentally, you won’t mean it. You will fervently hope that you haven’t caused her brain damage or irreversible harm, and you will spend endless minutes or hours fretting about her suffering.

If you hurt your son or daughter and you are worried, by all means, please get them medical attention right away. And if you hurt them intentionally out of anger or frustration, please get help immediately, for your sake and theirs.

But the vast majority of cases like this one, your child will be fine. It’s amazing how resilient little kids are. While they certainly are very delicate in some respects, nature seems to know how to protect them from the occasional carelessness and stupidity of the adults who care for them.

So forgive yourself. Because your little one already did.

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