Totsy’s Chief Mom, Diana Heather, shares with us a very scary moment that happened when spending time with her two little girls and opens up our eyes on how frightening parenting can be. Read on below.
We all know that accidents can happen in mere seconds and lives can change in an instant and there’s no such thing as being too careful when it comes to our kids. We all know to childproof our homes, buckle our kids up in car seats and to make sure they wear helmets to ride bikes.
But, we’re human. And sometimes we slack off a little. Sometimes we do the same exact thing we’ve gotten away with every single day, but for some reason, one day, the routine doesn’t work. The routine gets shattered.
That’s what happened one Friday morning at our house a few weeks back. My 2-year-old wakes before the sun. So, to preserve the rest of the sleeping hours for my 3-year-old, Khloe, and my husband, I throw a coat over my pjs and Lola and I take the elevator down to the lobby of our apartment building where there’s a little deli and and lots of room to hang out. This routine keeps everyone happy. Lola gets one-on-one time with me and I with her (although often while half asleep) and my husband and Khloe are able to get the sleep they really need.
Every morning, Lola gets a granola bar and I get a large black coffee. Then, we take our goods to a little table and two large chairs in the back of the lobby. Lola and I have this down to a science. It happens, just like that, every single morning.
Except for the morning when it didn’t happen just like that. On this particular Friday morning, Khloe woke up early too. With two girls now on my hands, it occurred to me that to be the most productive, I should get both girls dressed before heading downstairs to the lobby with them. Khloe was grumpy about that, she wanted to stay in her pjs, but I was determined to be super mom and have them both dressed. By the time we finally made it to the deli, both girls were ornery, but we got our granola bars and I got my large black coffee. Khloe wanted to sit close to the door. It was cold. I told her no. We are going to sit where we always sit.
We got settled. For a moment everyone was happy. In fact, I actually said, out loud, “See girls, isn’t this the best morning? We’re already dressed and enjoying our day!” I basked in what a great job I had done getting them both dressed. Down to their shoes and socks.
Just then, as if the universe heard me, Lola started squirming and bumped the wobbly little table. Hot coffee spilt on my hands and I jumped. And then the coffee was everywhere. The HOT coffee was everywhere, including on my daughters. Mostly on Khloe. I grabbed them both up and pulled down Khloe’s leggings. I assumed the coffee was burning her legs, but she kept screaming. Finally I heard her say, “MY FOOT!”
I realized the coffee was inside her shoes and socks boiling her little foot. I tore them off and I could see the skin peel away with the sock. It could have been so much worse and right then, I knew that not only would it be ok, we’d all survive. But I also knew that it wasn’t ok. It wasn’t ok at all. It was going to require a visit to the ER, missed school and a lot pain. Pain that I couldn’t suffer for her. Pain that I had caused.
We all think, that these things won’t happen to us because, surely we will be able to just jump in and, I don’t know, grab hot coffee in mid-air like a superhero. But in that moment, I wasn’t fast enough, wasn’t superhuman enough, I wasn’t even mom enough to save us, to save my daughter.
Everyday I got away with stupidly placing boiling hot coffee on a wobbly little table with a crazy toddler running around. I should never have had hot coffee on that table. I should never have had hot coffee in such close proximity and in such obvious danger of being spilled on my own children. But, I’m human, and I did. I did it as long as I was getting away with it.
As you can imagine, the rest of our day included a lonely cab ride to the ER, while my husband stayed home with Lola. Have you ever carried a screaming, 40 pound angel-girl while hailing a cab and trying not to touch her foot on anything, alone, in the freezing cold? I don’t recommend it. Several hours were spent alone with my daughter going through the ER process. It’s a humbling, frightening and lonely experience. And all the while, I was trying to be the grown-up. To pretend like I knew where to go and what to do and what was about to happen. To be positive so she wouldn’t be scared. But burns are scary and ERs are scary and the unknown is scary and having a hurting or sick child is scary.
What sticks out in my mind the most about that day though, is that for Khloe, there was a shift. Any time the pain was really acute, that day and for the days following, an odd clarity, ability to reason and just plain adultness would take her over. When this happened, she would just look at me plainly and say things to me like, “You shouldn’t have had your coffee on that table. I didn’t want to get dressed this morning. I didn’t want to put socks and shoes on. I wanted to wear pjs and Crocs. I didn’t want to sit there, remember? My sister shouldn’t have wobbled the table. I won’t forgive you, Mommy.”
She’s not even four yet. Where does this sense of understanding, of knowing to ask the “what if’s” come from? It was as if she grew up all of a sudden. As if her perfect innocence had a little piece of skin scraped off of it, along with her sweet little foot.
I know kids have to grow up. I know accidents happen. I know she’s a champ and she’s brave and that hopefully she gained some strength of character through all of this (I know I did). Or maybe she’s three, and she’ll only remember the story we tell. I’m not sure.
I have high hopes that there won’t be a scar left over her right foot, but the sad truth is that I believe she grew up a lot that day and that there’s a permanent scar on her innocence.