As mothers we all have those moments that make us question our ability to be a good parent and even feel like a failure as a mother. These experiences can vary from person to person. Sometimes we struggle with major ordeals that seem impossible and sometimes even the smallest occurrences can make us feel defeated. My daughter, Aurora, is just three months old and I have already had many defeating moments that have made me question just what the heck I’m doing but let me just tell you about the day I felt like a complete failure.
As I mentioned, sometimes our biggest defeats can stem from the smallest, most seemingly trivial events. What I am about to tell you now, in hindsight, seems so silly and small but was also entirely traumatizing at the same time. I was trimming Aurora’s fingernails and took off more than just her fingernail. I know, I know, we’ve all been there, but do you remember the first time it happened to you? It’s an ordeal!
I have always been a little hesitant about trimming her nails so I would, admittedly, put it off until it absolutely needed to be done. I typically trim her nails while she is sleeping so she will be less likely to fidget or pull away from me. Well, I was feeling pretty confident with myself as I had already gone three months without incident. I had finally gotten to a point where I was no longer so nervous and decided to give it a shot while she was sitting on my lap hanging out rather than sleeping. I’m still not sure exactly how it happened, if she moved at just the right time or if my perception is really that bad. Just the same, it was a disaster.
I didn’t even notice what had happened at first until I heard Aurora shriek. I glanced down at her hand and suddenly there was a startling amount of blood coming from her poor, tiny finger. I panicked. I went and grabbed a baby Norwex cloth and tried my best to apply pressure to her little wound. As I’m sure most of you know, trying to wrangle a wriggling infant is nearly impossible, especially when an owie is involved. I was finally able to get the cloth on her finger and applied a fair amount of pressure to help stop the bleeding. At this point she had ceased crying and the cloth had been on her finger for a while, I figured it was safe to take a peek. The cloth had actually dried to her tiny cut and in pulling it off I actually made her cut start bleeding again which led to more frantic crying.
Desperate for some sort of remedy to help my poor little baby, I went with the next thought that came to mind: a Band-Aid. I rummaged through the first aid drawer and found some Star Wars Band-Aid’s (of all things) and quickly opened one. Of course it didn’t fit on her finger and try as I may it refused to stick as well. Finally her dad, who had been picking up take out, returned home to the commotion. I’m crying, she’s crying, I’m sure it looked entirely tragic. He immediately asks me what happened as I bawl, “I was trimming her nails and I cut her finger, now she’s going to have a messed up finger for the rest of her life! I ruined her finger!” Despite all of the commotion he proceeded to calmly get a damp cloth to put on her finger and everything was well again. Her finger is entirely fine by the way. The next day there was hardly an indication that anything had happened.
Although it seems so small, especially looking back on it, I felt like such a failure that evening. It felt like I struggled through so many options before her dad came in and saved the day so nonchalantly. I found myself thinking “I’m her mom; I’m supposed to be the person that is always there for her and always has the answer. To hold her tiny hand, not hurt it”.
Now, I know this was such a trivial thing but this small failure added up with other small failures made it seem so big. I realized we constantly hold ourselves to almost unattainable standards to the point that we don’t give ourselves enough credit for everything we do right and well. I also had the realization that things that happen now really can impact her forever. It was all very dramatic while this was happening, and for a while after, but I also learned a really valuable lesson…I need to cut myself some slack. I may not have done the “right” thing immediately, but I did jump into action right away and also did my best to solve the problem. There are always going to be times when we feel like failures as mothers but you know what? It’s just one bad day. A bad moment does not make you a bad mom. Nobody has it all together; we’re all just doing what we can for our unique situations. At the end of the day, even the bad days, we’re still mothers who love unconditionally, who are blessed with kids that love us despite our faults.