When Daughter was born we got a whole lot of advice. We listened to some, and we ignored some, and we found our balance and it was wonderful. There was also a whole lot of story telling from people peppered in with that advice. I get that now because I love to share stories and remember the awesomeness that was Daughter as an infant. It is fun to relive those moments while holding a perfect little one that I can hand back and go sleep all night.
One story that we heard over and over again was that on some dark sad night full of exhaustion both mental and physical, a lot of parents dropped their baby. I don’t know how many times we actually heard this tale, but it seemed like a lot. We were told all about how there would be nights when we got absolutely no sleep at all, nights when she would just scream for no reason, and we would hold her and rock her and try to feed her and walk with her and bounce her, and we would be asleep on our feet. We were warned that it was then that it would happen. We would be literally asleep standing up, and our grip would loosen, and she would fall. We were told we would feel awful. Told we would cry. Told she would cry. Told we would not want to forgive ourselves. We were also told that it would really be ok.
Those nights came and went, and you know what? We didn’t drop the baby.
We started to have this sort of cockiness about it. I remember after those awful nights high-fiving Husband as we realized that we had made it and that everyone was in tact. Not just in tact: perfectly off the ground. No one had fallen. There have even been times in the past several years when we watched a show or movie and thought or even said aloud, “Well, we never dropped her!” It became a point of pride when people told us their horror stories. We never said it aloud, but we always thought to ourselves all about how we never dropped the baby.
Then, earlier this week, I was having an overwhelming day. I was exhausted and swamped with training for my new job and my mind completely got away from me. Before I knew it, I was looking at the clock and realized that I was late to pick Daughter up from school. An HOUR late. My phone was inexplicably on silent and I had missed calls, texts, and emails about her. My stomach was in my feet. My heart was racing. I began sweating and panicking and making calls and talking myself out of vomiting because that would just make me more late. As I raced to the school where she was safely (thank heaven) sequestered in the office, I realized something very important.
She’s not a baby anymore, but she can still be dropped.
I scooped her up and held her and apologized and beat myself up for it pretty bad. Husband would try to console me and I would snap at him that he had never done it so he didn’t know. I was convinced that I was the worst parent ever. Friends began sharing their stories with me and I realized that when people were telling me about how they dropped their babies, it was because they still felt bad about it and they were helping to create a sense of community. At one point I was apologizing to Daughter for the millionth time and she said, “Mom, I forgive you. Are YOU ever going to forgive you?” It was the wisest thing she has ever said to me. So I did.
So today, I give you the permission to forgive yourself. We all mess up, guys. Make a better decision for next time, apologize, mean it, and move on. When you drop your baby, they will forgive you easily because they love you. Love yourself enough to forgive you, too.