Before Lyra could finally sit up unsupported, she fell over dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times. Her gelatin-like body would slump from one side to another and no sooner than we had propped her up, she’d be lying on her back again, laughing at the ceiling.
When after months of frustration–where she tried in vain to will her body forward (despite lying on her stomach, arms and legs stretched out in flight)–she began to crawl, her head met the edge of our low-lying coffee table within days. For every drawer she mastered open, a pinched finger followed. Couch-climbing adventures have led to numerous spills, as we’ve pleaded and pleaded for her to slide down on her belly, Feet first, feet first…
And now, she walks. she fights the urge to run, but only because he coordination won’t allow it. She climbs up stairs. She pulls books from shelves that were miles above her just a few months ago, and now are eye-level. And she falls. She bruises. She wails. I have learned not to cry along with her, at least not most times. But this past weekend there was blood. A loss of balance, side tumble, too close the coffee table (why do we still have that damn coffee table?) and her jaw was snapped close too quickly, her two, loney bottom teeth went stabbed violently into her upper gums, sending splashes of bright red down the front of her father’s tee-shirt.
This is the first time I’ve seen my child’s blood. It will do not no good to hope it’s the last. It won’t be.
When your baby is new, you constantly worry that you’re going to do something wrong. That your child will be hurt because of it, and you will have to live with the consequences. As your child grows, and you find yourself growing into the role of guardian, you begin to worry less. You’ve got this. You’re not going to break your baby’s leg while changing a diaper. You can breastfeed and hold a phone at the same time.
But the mobile child doesn’t allow you to be her helmet and shoulder pads. You are relegated to goal tender, and frequently the shots get past you. Eventually you will become referee, calling the shots but no longer guarding the play. Then, some day, you retire from the field. you watch events unfold without much interference. You cheer from the sidelines.
Did I really just take a sports metaphor that far?
No one should ever ask you if you were dropped on your head as a baby. The answer is emphatically, Yes. But it’s not our parents who do the dropping. It’s us. From a height of 2 1/2 feet, we fall. Gracelessly. We render our parents helpless. And perhaps that is the child’s job. To humble us, repeatedly. To remind us of imperfections, our incapabilities. To make us yearn for greatness, even when we continuously fall short.
The last few months have been tough. For me. Mentally. The weight of the impending anniversary caused a major flare up to my PTSD. In fact, it has only been in the last few weeks that I’ve come to fully understand that is what was affecting me. I’m working through it. I’m learning techniques to manage it. To control flashbacks and anxiety. So far, I’m not able to manage the stresses of every day life with the demands of regular deadlines. Managing stress is a struggle, but it’s also critical. At least for the time being. I have a harder time managing the guilty feelings and incompetent feelings that come with not being financial contributor to the household or an equal partner in my marriage. Or for failing to do all of those things that I just can’t muster the mental and physical energy to do.
Last week I received my usual weekly newsletter from Baby Center, which I have subscribed to since I was 15-weeks pregnant. Its heading read: Your Toddler This Week. My eyes welled. I can’t explain all of the reasons why.