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


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


Taking a moment to celebrate my mom’s, and Billy Collins’, birthday

Yesterday would have been my mom’s 71st birthday – and by strange coincidence, I discovered, for the first time, that poet Billy Collins shares the same birthday. I sent Collins’ poem, “The Lanyard,” inside the last Mother’s Day card I ever sent, and I read it at my mother’s funeral. Seemed fitting, given that the poem is funny (which my mom would have appreciated at her funeral) and says something very true: any meager attempt we might make to say “thank you” to our mothers will fall laughably short.

Here’s Collins reading the poem. Happy birthday, Mom – and Billy.