It’s been a week since Caroline’s accident and she has almost entirely forgotten about it. She doesn’t even request baby Motrin anymore because she’s too busy trying to injure herself further. It’s actually been nice for me to have somewhere to direct my neuroses – if there was NOTHING I could do for her I would drive myself insane reliving the fall. But now I’m so busy chasing her down and trying to distract her with quiet activities and making sure she isn’t using her left arm too much that I don’t have time to sit and dwell.
Do you realize how many times a day we take our eyes off our children? A zillion. Trying to narrow that down to zero is impossible, unless you never sleep or blink. There are so many moments you need to look at something else – the road, the food on the hot stove, your other child, the inside of your eyelids – that there a hundred opportunities a day for them to hurt themselves no matter how carefully you watch. Hyper-vigilance doesn’t prevent them from rolling off their bed during nap time or choking on a bite of food or accidentally pushing their sister off the playscape.
From that very first positive pregnancy test we do what we can to protect our babies. We give up our vices and our lunch meat in the name of avoiding hidden dangers and unseen poisons. We educate ourselves on birth and chemicals and nutrition and “baby-proof” our homes. But babies can’t themselves be baby-proofed. There are things, seen and unseen, that can hurt our children or might hurt our children or could potentially maybe hurt our children. Film at 11. And no matter how careful you are there’s no guarantee a meteor won’t fall out of the sky and crush your house tomorrow.
I can’t undo what happened, but I can learn my lesson. My phone is no longer surgically attached to my hand. I’ve missed a lot of blog posts and tweets and no, I didn’t see your kid’s karate belt ceremony pictures on Facebook. But Caroline and I have talked and cuddled and laughed more than ever before. I am holding her with my eyes and my heart but not holding her back even though I want to wrap her in bubble wrap and lock her in a padded castle. In the last week she learned the phrase “I DO IT” and although my heart leaps into my throat when she won’t hold my hand I so admire her determination to be independent even in the face of a broken bone. She is brave. Children are brave. We are brave for bringing them into this big scary world and brave for letting them go.