Thursday, July 19, 2012

Not On My Watch

I am prewired for guilt.  I'm Italian, I married a Jew, there is absolutely no way around it.  Slap on the cuffs and lock me up Judge - I'm guilty. Or at least that's how I feel.  It's so bad that sometimes I feel guilty about how guilty I feel and wonder, should I be burdening myself even more?

Add on to that the immense guilt factor that is motherhood itself and I'm now officially off the charts.  It's mind-blowing how raising a tiny creature whose needs are generally as simple as feed me, change me, hug me, love me can create a steamroller of wondering "Am I doing the right thing?"  I began feeling guilty yesterday over the concern that P wasn't interacting with other children enough during this, my very first week as a stay at home mom.  Today, I felt guilty that maybe he isn't getting the right type of interaction with other children.  A walk with a friend this morning?  Did he really interact?  Four hours of playtime with my nephew?  But, they're not the same age.  It never ends and I wonder how I will handle the first time he gets hurt.

As you will find with most couples, one parent tends to be more high-strung and one tends to be more laid-back and anyone who knows T and I can deduce who's who in the equation.  For those of you who don't know our dynamic, take the following example.  T won't leave the house in the morning without having checked the weather from three different sources followed by a roundtable family discussion on what the proper attire for that day is accounting for temperature, humidity, wind speed and potential for precipitation.  Way over on the other side of the spectrum, I consider a glance out of my window sufficient to tell me all that I need to know.  I will say that he's never caught in the rain without an umbrella, but on the other hand, a little water never killed anyone, did it?.

Sufficed to say, as parents our MO's differ dramatically.  While T follows closely behind P pushing his walker, with all hands on deck to stave off a possible fall, I stand far off in the distance feeling sure that if even if he does fall he will be fine and he'll learn something from it.  T will say, "Don't eat that Cheerio off the disgusting floor;" while snatching up the offending, tainted food item.  To the contrary, I stand aside and thinking, "What's the big deal?  He's going to get ecoli sometime or another."  Fortunately, we always tend to meet at the proper place in the middle, somewhere between paranoid and ignorant.

However, now that I'm the primary care giver, it's becoming blatantly obvious to me that P's first and hopefully-not-too-major injury is likely to happen on my watch.  At this point, I'm just hoping it doesn't end up being my fault, because frankly, I'm not sure I can handle any additional guilt.

Given how things are going,  I'm guessing that the first trip to the ER for stitches, a broken bone or a welt on the head may very well find me partially, if not fully, responsible.  Yesterday, for example, I crushed my poor, innocent, perfect baby's pinky finger under my big, fat foot.  Perhaps that's a bit dramatic, but I did step on his little finger with my average sized, well-pedicured lady foot.  I stepped on it for a good five to ten seconds before I even realized that the answer to "What's your problem P?" was "You're stepping on my finger Mommy."

I simply wasn't wearing the right pair of shoes for an afternoon trip to Starbucks and so I ventured into my closet to change them.  My budding momma's boy followed right behind me and after putting one adorable sandal on, I put my right foot down and started to put on the left shoe.  As I was doing so, P started to cry.  So I looked down, directly at him and asked, "What's the matter P?"  I watched him for a few seconds as I finished putting on my shoe trying to figure out why he was so suddenly cranky and then it hit me, OMFG.  My eyes landed on my thankfully soft soled shoe that was resting delicately on his teeny, tiny, pinky.  A good portion of my body weight pressed down on the most beautiful, perfect, elegant pinky finger that the earth has ever seen...until that moment.  Convinced I had shattered his tiny bone into a million little pieces, I picked him up off the floor and showered him with an equally large number of kisses.

Thanks to his infant-sized attention span and that it turned out my full weight was not bearing down on his little finger, P was fine and he had forgotten the entire incident within about thirty seconds. I, on the other hand, had not.  Mired in guilt, I began envisioning P, 21 years from now, sitting on a couch in our basement, getting fat on Fritos and Beer, feeling dejected because his Major League Baseball career as a closing pitcher was ruined thanks to a mangled pinky finger, courtesy of Mommy.

Luckily for me as quickly and thickly as I pile the guilt onto myself, I've also managed to learn to forgive myself just as fast.  I think this is an important skill for any parent, especially for an Italian parent, married to a Jewish parent to both of whom guilt is a way of life.  Judging by P's smiles and the fifteen "mommy hugs" per hour that he joyfully doles out, I'm guessing he forgives me too.

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