Do you think you know what guilt is?
You know that feeling when you accidentally step on your dog and there is no correct way that you can ever apologize to them to let them know you did NOT mean to hurt them, now why won’t they come and snuggle with you????
Let me explain something. You know nothing. You know nothing of guilt until you try to cut your baby’s nails and somehow miss, despite the fact that you are basically wearing a miner’s light on your forehead, with your hair pulled back, sweating profusely, promising god, Allah, Shiva, or whomever that you will worship them forever if you can just get through this without harming your child. And then BAM. You miss.
You slowly watch in horror as your baby’s face starts to process what just happened and begins to crumple as you work to undo the damage as quickly as possible with an immediate scoop and hug manipulation. That coupled with a rapid fire shushing noise does little to defeat the deafening roar that can now be heard around the house.
You stop to assess the damage and see the smallest amount of blood at the tip of his finger and realize you have ruined your child. There is no turning back. You hurt your baby.
Parenting guilt is unavoidable and a freight train of a feeling at that. In fact, all your feelings when you become a parent become larger and more magnified. Bang your baby’s foot on the door frame and the immediate sense is that you should just turn yourself into DCFS. And don’t even get me started on when I accidentally bump his head on the end of the diaper changing table. I am sure there is some sort of self-sacrifice I should make to the baby gods.
But that is the thing, this precious baby, that you worked so hard to get into this world in one piece, is going to fall down and hurt themselves. They are going to scrape their knees, cut themselves, bump their heads and their hands. Eventually they will fall off their bike and maybe down the stairs a little. And all we can do is try our best to let them fall just enough so they can learn that it is ok to get a little scraped up. A few bumps and bruises exploring life are part of life. We as parents have to let them, as much as we want to wrap them in bubble wrap and never admit that we have let them fall, because more than anything, it hurts our heart more than it will ever hurt them.
PS: My tried and true technique for cutting his nails? Turn on the TV and let him stare at it for 10 minutes. Works every time.