As a new player in this game we call parenting, I have done some stereotypical first-time mom things. Not that I feel bad about any of that, because my daughter did not pop out of the birth canal with a manual in hand. Sure, there’s a ton of parenting advice but it’s all rather vague. Milestones can happen within a 6-12 month period, and “every child is different,” so even your pediatrician is unlikely to know what the heck is happening. We are all just guessing here.
- Your child hits their head on a sharp corner, leaving a bruise and a small indent. What do you do?
- Rush your child to the ER
- Solicit opinions from various family members and then stay up all night watching for signs of concussion
- Put some ice on it and cuddle your child close while you cry about how sorry and neglectful you feel
- Tell your child they’ll be alright and if they had only listened to you the first time they wouldn’t be hurt
In all honesty, I’ve done every single one of these things. Hallie is an adventurous child and she spends a great deal of time flat on her face because she won’t stay still. She is convinced she can run, climb, and jump whenever and wherever she pleases, and there are natural consequences. I do my best to keep her contained, but accidents are going to happen despite a watchful eye. Just last week, I rushed Hallie to the ER because she did indeed smack her head, resulting in a very frightening indent. However, even in the waiting room she was trying to climb the tables. She was fine, and I was sent home feeling foolish but relieved. Luckily, I had a very kind nurse who admitted to doing the same exact thing with her kids almost every time they had a scary fall.
- At the playground, your child decides it’s a great day to taste some dirt for the first time. What do you do?
- Run right over with sanitizer for their hands and scrape the dirt off their tongue
- Whisk your child home for a bath in hopes that the germs will be cleansed away
- Offer a different snack and drink to deter the eating of dirt
- Consider dirt a snack and call it a win
Although I don’t consider dirt a snack, I have let Hallie enjoy a bit of dirt when my hands were full and she had already maxed out my patience levels. Obviously, it was not a snack she enjoyed and she scraped it off her tongue herself. I’m hoping that was a lesson learned, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find her eating dirt on a future occasion. I will be there to at least wipe her hands and offer a veggie stick instead.
- You are at a play center, and you know for a fact that one of the children present has a cold. They sneeze and drool all over a toy, and you see your child promptly pick up the same time moments later and put it in their mouth. What do you do?
- Pick your child up immediately and scold the other mom for bringing a sick child
- Wash your child’s hands and leave to play with germ-free toys at home
- Offer a different, hopefully untouched toy to your child and monitor more closely
- Think of it as a free vaccine to help build your child’s immune system
I do agree that sick children should typically be kept home, but a cold is relatively harmless. You can’t possibly protect your child from every germ, and it would be stressful to try. Although I wouldn’t be thrilled with Hallie licking the same toy that has been sneezed on, I would simply redirect her and hope she doesn’t get the cold. If she does, it certainly wouldn’t be the last. I would hate to be expected to keep Hallie locked up for a small cold, as if she (we) wouldn’t be miserable enough!
Reality check. There is no way to spot a first-time mom. Every child is different, every circumstance is different, and parenting is hard. We have all had public and private moments where we just feel we can’t handle another incident. If you see a classic mom moment, offer a word of encouragement. Nothing has inspired me more than a mom who has commiserated with me, even for the briefest moment. It’s too easy to mom-shame these days, which is why we need to remind ourselves that we have all been there, and a kind word is always appreciated.