Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A mother's guilt

Yesterday afternoon my son stabbed his sister in the head. Following extensive Mommy CSI I was finally able to ascertain the truth of what went down. Well, not really. He kept changing his story. But I did figure out that the weapon used was the tail rotor of his Playmobile police rescue helicopter. They were playing. She either took something of his, got in his way or merely existed in his space and he hauled off and whacked her in the head with his helicopter. The tail rotor just happened to be at the exact angle to put a neat little--albeit profusely bleeding--slice right on the crown of her head.

She and I spent a couple of hours as the guests of St. Mary's ER--the only local hospital with a pediatric emergency room--only to be told that she was fine. I already knew that. Go home and just watch her for signs of trauma. She can go to sleep. But wake her up at some point to make sure she's responsive. Or so said the nurse practitioner with no children. If this baby goes to sleep and is sleeping--I'm not waking her up. No. You can't make me. I may check and make sure she's breathing steady, but no way am I waking her up!

Today--she's fine. She was fine last night. I just got freaked out because the wound wouldn't stop bleeding. I know head wounds bleed. The one Jacob sustained back in February that required four stitches left at least a pint on the picnic table he picked a fight with. But seeing blood gush out of my baby's head was more than enough to send my Mama Bear instincts into overdrive. These are my children. I do everything I know of and that is within my power to protect them--from everything. If I could figure out a way to stuff them back into the womb I'd probably consider it.

But all of that doesn't matter, does it? I failed to protect that baby girl in her own home. Her sanctuary. Where she should be safe. And Jacob? He felt more remorse over the fact that he lost story privileges tonight than for the fact that he hurt his sister.

Talking the ordeal over with the Husband last night he said he was just hoping that Jacob would grow out of it. Really? How old are you and your brother? Because I seem to recall some sort of ruckus last time the two of you got together. And just because you called it Showing Examples of Your Latest Martial Arts Move--it was still a sibling fight with scrapes and bruises.

Spare me the "boys will be boys" line of thinking. My sister and I fought. Vicious and dirty. The only thing that kept us from carving each other's flesh with our fingernails on into our adolescent years--other than the fact that she bit her nails and I didn't--was the fact that she was shipped off to boarding school two years before I was. And then we sort of reverted back to an odd form of parallel existence.

So is this some sort of DNA coding? Are children born with the knowledge of fighting just like they are born with the ability to throw themselves down on the grocery store floor in a full on melt down? Or was this something that I have taught him? Has he been allowed to watch too much television? Too much Star Wars? Too many episodes of The Mummy? Or is this my DNA showing through?

I can almost guarantee you that if I were to sit down and retake the Meyer's/Brigg's personality test tomorrow I'd still come out a solid INFP. Introvert, something with an N, Feeling, and something with a P. I'm ruled by my emotions. I've tried working on that the past several years. But mostly it's the emotions that pull the strings. My family can attest to that. They don't have to leave comments or anything--honestly, you don't--but they are the ones who know. My children have the DNA coding that will enable them to abruptly stand up from the dinner table, knocking their chair backwards, screaming, "Don't mock my pain!"

I knew going into this whole Motherhood thing that there would be drama. I suppose I was naive to think that maybe there would be less drama than there really is.

Yet as flippant and trite as I'm making this ordeal to sound, the guilt is almost overwhelming. I wasn't in the room with my children yesterday afternoon. I heard Kyleigh cry. But she's at the point in her life where she gets pretty pissed off if someone--her brother--takes something from her. If pushed, she will push back. I thought that's all it was. I didn't go investigate. By the time I did go see what was going on she was fine. Except for the blood caked in her hair. And blood drops everywhere--speckling various toys. Jacob was even attempting to read her a story. And she is fine. Yesterday she just wanted us to stop messing with her head--literally--and leave her alone.

But I have to live with the fact that I ignored her when she cried. For all of my "Am I doing enough to protect my children?" form of parenting, I ignored her when she needed me. And I wasn't even doing anything important. See? Emotions. Don't even try to bring logic into this because that wasn't one of the letters that showed up on my personality test. I don't do "Logic". Especially when it comes to my children. But, guilt? Oh, yeah. That one I do.


Marit said...

Love you for your honesty!

big dutch hug,

Anonymous said...

Motherhood = Guilt. Remember that and get use to it because it will never change. As mothers, as caring mothers I should say, you will always question your reactions, your actions, how you handled things and you will constantly beat yourself up over "not doing the right thing" whatever that is. But honestly, I think the most important thing we can ever instill in our children is that they matter to us, we love them unconditionally even when they do stab their sister or brother with a ...what did you say it was...., oh well no matter. You are doing a fine job and when it comes to matters of the heart, logic immediately gets thrown out the window.
I'm sure my pep talk didn't help, but I decided to interject my comments anyway. Hope all is well there with you guys.
Take care

Dori said...

Thanks, Gina! And, yes, I realize that mommy guilt is universal. Goes with the plumbing and hormones I suppose.

There are things that my mom has told me she feels guilty for--for which I've told her she's nuts to feel that way because, after all, I'm not too warped or scarred. Well, I didn't know that you'd turn out fine in spite of my mistakes, did I? she replies.

Suburbia said...

Whatever happen you will always feel guilty! Someone will ban Playmobile one day!!!

Glad they are ok

Donia said...

hey--I'm pushing 39 and I can still find a scar on the back of my hand from those fingernails :)

MissKris said...

I guess I was one of the more practical mothers out there. Maybe it came from being born to a couple of New England parents moved out here to the NW after WWII. Nothing much panicked or moved them. With 4 very rambunctious kids of their own, plus the multitudes of Foster Children who passed thru our home, that was pretty commendable! I was the same way with my own kids. I guess from witnessing so many almost-catastrophic accidents my 3 brothers survived and a few of my own as well, unless a child quit breathing I didn't get very shook up. Guilt? Well, I had some of that the two years I worked full time...didn't like that. But, Dori, so much of what kids express and act out on is just human survival instinct...protecting their personal space and what they consider THEIRS rate right at the top of the list. And we're a very selfish species, too, always attempting to gain more territory, more stuff, for ourselves. Kids are kids. Sibling rivalry and attempting to annihilate each other is part of the whole scheme. We mothers are human ourselves. We can't be everywhere at once. No matter how hard we try, we can't protect our kids 24/7from other people or even from each other. So relax. Don't be so hard on yourself. 30 years ago I was at the same stage in time that you are now. Believe me, they survive without too much physical or emotional angst from their squabbles. I like to remember one thing my oldest brother piped up with when we were little and sounded like we were all killing each other. My mom, at the end of her rope, yelled up the stairs, "What are you DOING to each other up there?" and he said, "Just having fun, Mom!"

Amy said...

Mommy guilt. Ain't it grand? Kind of like when I accidentally let the door close on Amanda's 2 year old head and it got squished between the screen door and the brick wall and cried so hard she passed out? Fun times.

The fact of the matter is that you CAN'T be there every second of every day. You CAN'T make them live in a bubble. And even if you somehow did, for that single reason alone you would be an AWFUL mother. So we do what we can, when we can. Sure, a helicopter to the head happens, but honestly, if that's the worst thing, then you're doing alright.

Personally, I think it's the entire human genome that makes a child beat the tar out of another---not necessarily the volatile mix of your particular DNA with Sean's. (Granted we could blame that cocktail for some other things, but... *wink*) It's learning to control those impulses that takes a long while. I remember fondly taking swings at my brothers... aaah... those were the days. If only I had such a lack of impulse control now. I sure would love to go a couple of rounds with one of them. OH! Wait! Are you still here? :)

Cut yourself some slack. You're a great mom.

Anonymous said...

Hey don't beat youself up!! Get some perspective. There's no real harm done. Even if you did go in earlier, it could have happened right in front of you, so what?!

If you were sitting on the sofa, drunk and disorderly, there may be grounds for reproach. It does kids good to understand the boundaries around each other and that's what they're doing. No sweat. You did fine! New to your blog!

Irene said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. More of these kinds of things will happen. You can't be like a mother hawk and watch over them all the time. Let go a little bit. She really was okay in the end and it was her brother who bore the responsibility, no matter how old he is.