And it won’t be the end of the world.
See that cute little toddler in the photo above? Now imagine a pair of snazzy pink and white sunglasses — that match her adorable gingham dress — perched on that wee freckled nose.
That’s what she was wearing, right down to those white sandals, the day I accidentally threw my trusting and precious child down the stairs.
Rick and I were living in San Antonio, working for the newspaper there. When we’d moved there in 2004, we settled for a rental, not wanting to buy a house until we became more familiar with the city. In 2005, a few months after our son was born, the four of us set out on multiple house-hunting expeditions.
Each Sunday, after church, we’d visit all of the open houses that caught our eye. One Sunday found us at a charming bungalow that had been fully renovated. A few things remained to be done — like adding a bannister to the steep, wooden staircase leading to the second floor.
On this particular home tour, Rick was toting our infant son in a carrier. So when I ventured upstairs, my 2-year-old daughter wanted to go too.
On the way back down, worried that she might fall, I insisted on carrying her.
NOTE: Stairs have NEVER been my friend. I have not only fallen down them, but UP them. Why on earth I thought I was better qualified than my toddler for a bannisterless descent is beyond me. Regardless …
I hoisted my little girl up onto my hip and started down. Which is when one of my cute, strappy sandals gave way. (Yes, the majority of my falling-down stories involve not only stairs, but ridiculous footwear.) Anyway, we weren’t even halfway down when that fickle sandal twisted and I stumbled.
As I lunged against the wall, trying to catch myself, Baby Girl was literally catapulted from my arms. I watched in horror as she hurtled forward, bouncing against each step.
So here’s Rick, strolling from the dining room into the living room. He sets the infant carrier down at the foot of the stairs to give his arm a rest.
Just then, he hears a thud. And then another thud. And then his daughter tumbles, head-over-heels, to his feet, sunglasses askew and eyes scrunched up in that pre-cry sort of way. Meanwhile, the thuds continue as I ping-pong from one wall to the other on my way down.
Rick was still leaning down to pick up our daughter when I landed at his feet. “Oh my God! What are you doing?!” he shrieked.
NOTE: This question has been shouted/screamed at me countless times when I have inexplicably stumbled or fallen down. I reference an incident in downtown Memphis, when a panicked photographer yelled that very question as I tripped over absolutely nothing and fell smack on my hands and knees. He had to hoist me up by my coat collar. I then staggered, bleeding, into a restaurant to clean myself up.
Despite the numerous times frantic people have inquired as to what I was doing, I have yet to produce an adequate answer.
So anyway, back to that Sunday: Rick has just watched his toddler AND wife roll down a staircase.
Baby Girl was fine. Startled and crying, but fine. I, on the other hand, had bruises from ankle to thigh. The next several days were misery as I hobbled from one place to another.
Still, every time I remembered my little girl curled up in a ball at the foot of the stairs — having been launched from her own mother’s arms — I cried. I thought of those little sunglasses sitting crooked on her nose and just wailed.
Again, she was fine. I’m the one who bore both the physical and emotional injuries.
This, my fellow mamas, is part of motherhood. We screw up. But then we pick ourselves up — and, ahem, sometimes our children — and carry on.
You will never, ever be a perfect mom. None of us will be. But, just like our children, we are a resilient lot, who, BECAUSE we love our babies so very much, will plant kisses on tiny, bloody knees and plaster countless Band-aids on boo-boos. We will listen to tales of friendships gone wrong and try to explain the many injustices in this world.
And we will forgive ourselves, knowing that our mistakes most often are the result of the best of intentions. The key is in remembering to bandage our own boo-boos — to ask for help when needed and to allow for a good cry now and then.
Then, just like our children, we’ll pick at those annoying, itchy scabs, and continue a journey that, while often marked by pain and sadness, leads us to sweet moments of indescribable joy.