Why most of our parenting mistakes won’t leave a scar

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This is a photo of Neve’s right hand.

I took it to remind myself that the vast majority of mistakes I make as a parent, and regularly beat myself up about, are minor missteps that won’t permanently damage my 2 daughters.

Here’s the backstory: last year, on Mother’s Day (thanks, Painfully Ironic Universe!), I was stealing a few minutes to read a section of the New York Times on our sunny back porch – which we’d just started to use again, thanks to climbing springtime temps – when Neve, then a couple of months shy of turning 2, explored her way into a functionally dead food processor. (We’d temporarily parked it on the porch, so that we’d remember to take it out with the garbage.)

Neve’s hand found, and clutched at, a blade; blood appeared in a small, awful smile across the side of her palm, and she screamed.

Being terrible in a crisis, I freaked out, wrapping my arms around her and crying as Joe fetched a wet, cold washcloth. We held the cloth against her hand, and Joe called his father, who’s a doctor; he recommended applying butterfly bandages, so I ran to the CVS down the block, frantically searching the aisles. When I returned, we did our best to clean and cover the wound, then we discussed our next move.

Or Joe threw out options while I hyperventilated. It’s all kind of cloudy now. You know how it is. Continue reading

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Taking leave of maternity leave

Neve, about to leave for her first official day at daycare

We didn’t make any specific plans for how things would go on the morning of my first day back to work, after a 3 month maternity leave.

Joe and I didn’t decide that one of us would take both kids to the daycare center two blocks from our house; or whether we’d stagger it with one kid each in tow. We played it by ear, trying to be flexible while seeing how things naturally played out.

And despite our lack of planning, the day started idyllically.

Neve slept through the night, waking at 6:50 to eat. After I fed her, she went back to sleep, and a while later, Lily got up with Joe (as has become the norm since Neve’s birth). I spent a bit of time with Lily before she left with Joe for pre-school, and then I got things ready for my day as Neve snoozed in her room. At 9:30, after Neve had had nearly 12 hours of sleep, I woke her (she was still deeply asleep), fed her, and changed her (pooped-soaked) diaper. With all this going for her, she was nothing but big, flirty smiles and coos as we walked to the daycare center and I handed her off to one of the women who’d taken care of Lily when she was the same age.

I drove to work in Ann Arbor, plowed through more than 800 e-mails that were waiting for me (using the delete function liberally), used my breast pump there and at home, and then went to pick up the girls from daycare. (Joe and I feel so weird saying “the kids” now; it’s as if we weren’t really defined yet as suburban parents until we had a second child and started having to use the plural instead of just saying “Lily” or “our girl.”)

I decided to check in at Neve’s room at daycare first, since Lily often tends to be the Norm Peterson of pre-school (wanting to play and stay until closing time at 6 p.m.), and I was anxious to find out how Neve had done on her first day. Continue reading