When one gives birth to a child, as a first timer or a veteran mom, there is the protective instinct that comes over you that can be overwhelming. You can literally give your life in exchange for your child, without thinking about it twice. If the nurse or doctor in the labour ward attending to the child is “manhandling” the infant in your opinion, the tiger mom in you pops out without any consideration of social etiquette. When our toddlers grow, we watch over them with bated breath, whether they are awake or asleep. We check the rise and fall of their tummies while they sleep, we move like a bull dozer to clear their path and remove anything that may pose a harm to them as they play. If we cannot eradicate the harm for our toddlers, we scoop the child in our arms and declare with a tone of finality that playtime is over, despite their protesting screams. I cannot shout we announce. No one wants to be a bad mother.
However despite our good intentions, sometimes our babies and toddlers have accidents. I am not addressing or referring to accidents of potty training nature here, as that happens to kids and with time they surely outgrow it. Neither am I addressing those of a fatal nature here, as it is beyond my competence and experience, and for anyone that has gone through this, I can only say that I pray that the divine comfort you receive never ends. Amen.
So for instance you have had a long day, but you are still nursing a child through the night. So while the rest of your house and the world is asleep, you awake to breastfeed your precious baby, you do not plan to doze off by any means, and besides you have got your arms wrapped tight round your baby. The next thing you know is you wake up to the cry of your baby who has fallen out of your arms. You pick your crying baby up and probably join in the crying a bit, you apologise profusely to the baby, swearing that it will never happen again, while also asking God to forgive you for being a bad mother. You do a quick sweep or scan of the body to make sure that nothing is broken, all the while questioning how you could have allowed this to happen.
My dear reader, this scenario is replayed every day in every home and in different circumstances. A toddler running too fast that falls flat on his face, a child that runs smack into a glass wall, a child that falls into a lake without you knowing (this one happened to me live and direct), a sibling that jumps on a sibling and causes a bone to break, to the scary stories of siblings who found their parent’s gun at home and shot a sibling while playing (this happened to my cousin, he survived it thankfully). Or even registering a child in a pre-school or primary school and wondering if you made the right choice a thousand times.
A million and one stories of how things can go wrong and fast too. To the mum who their child fell from their arms because you slept off, it is okay, you are human. One thing I would like us to save ourselves from is the self-condemnation. You are a mother in love with your child regardless. For you to feel bad about it, shows you still have the mother’s heart and that it is working fine. If you are still thinking you are a bad mother or parent, have you ever thought about how Mary felt when she lost Jesus at the temple. I mean, who misplaces the son of God for 3 days and does not even know when or where? Imagine what would have been going through Mary’s mind, “what will I tell Jesus’ Father? Yeepa!! I am finished.” I am sure that even when she saw him, it would have been a mixture of feelings between wanting to hug him from relief and also to beat him for the emotional trauma, “park ‘son of God’ to one side, I will show you I am your mother”, like Nigerian moms do brilliantly.
So do we then adopt the ‘que sera sera’ position and become complacent about our kids safety while they grow up? Far from it. We must still adopt safety measures round our kids as we learn from our mistakes and improve. For those of us that have kids who are toddlers, think like a 2 year old, who thinks that everything is a potential toy and source of fun and entertainment; work with your instincts. If you feel your child might reach for that socket, or that dangling edge of the cloth that pulls down everything on the table including the iron, fold it up. Don’t take chances abeg.
For those of us who do feed our babies at night, don’t worry. You should have seen me when I was nursing the kids at night after my first fall. I would plant myself in the centre of the bed and then even if the baby fell from my arms, he or she would have the bed underneath to cushion the fall. Also my bed was surrounded by pillows so that in case sleep conquered me and the child rolled, another layer of cushioning would set in.
We must do our part as adult humans and parents of these kids but I am more convinced each day that these young ones have angels sent by God watching over them. And for that I remain ever grateful.
Feel free to check out some other write ups that can help you on this journey such as how to make time for yourself here; or the one on Christmas.
photo credits: naturalnews.com & the internet