Things They Can’t Say: Raising Humans

Tricia is an account director by day, writer by night, wife and mother first, foremost, and all the time.

Her blog, Raising Humans is about those parenting moments – the good and bad, the beautiful and sometimes ugly – moments when we realize that we are all growing together.
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I collapsed onto the couch and tucked my feet underneath me, seeking comfort by curling into the cushions.

It was noon and I had not yet gotten dressed or left my house.

Just the week before, I had been up and out already. Just the week before, a group of women had commended me for getting up and out and making it to the new parent’s support group.

“She is two weeks old and you made it here?! Good work mama! Congratulations!!”

Their excitement had baffled me. On a normal day, I could successfully manage huge projects and teams of dozens of people. And they were congratulating me for getting dressed and driving 5 minutes from my house.

And yet here I was, one week further into motherhood, and regressing. The memory of their praise made me feel pathetic.

As I curled deeper into the couch, I noticed an intruder on my pity party for one. A stink bug, moseying along just inside the back door.

Determined to exert control over at least one aspect of my day, I got up to evict him. I stepped outside and pulled the door behind me, thinking I could push him out.

As soon as the door clicked into place, my heart sank.

I frantically turned the handle, back and forth as forcefully as I could, as if the fifth or fifteenth try would magically succeed. But it was locked. I was outside. My keys and my phone were inside.

She was inside.

I left my baby girl inside and ran from house to house in search of help. When I finally found a neighbor at home with their door wide open, I barged right in, barely stopping to knock first.

“I’m locked out! My baby is inside! I need to call my husband!”

I’m sure that only half of those words came out un-mangled. But they must have been the right words because the man whose house I had just invaded quickly handed me his phone.

Through a stream of tears, panic, and an unhealthy dose of shame, I called my husband.

What kind of mother locks herself out of her house while her 3-week old sleeps inside?

A mother fearful of being alone with her newborn. A mother who was starting to believe that she was not cut out for this. A mother who was failing.

~~~~~
As you read this today, my girl is three, happy, and healthy. She was fine when I finally made my way back to her that day. She does not remember the moments she spent alone in our house.

But I do.

I replayed them over and over in my head for months. For months, I tortured myself with those moments and the failure I thought they represented.

But now I know. I know that day was not a failure.

Because in these past three years, my girl and I, we have grown together.

She has grown from a tiny baby to a walking, talking preschooler. And I have grown to understand that I will make mistakes but those mistakes do not mean I am failing. Mothers, I have learned, can do superhuman things… but we are still human. Like our littles, we try. Sometimes we fall but we try again. And throughout it all, through each mistake and each triumph we grow. Together.

Please leave Tricia some comment love here and then be sure to go visit Raising Humans.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    I know that was a scary moment, Tricia, and it’s so easy to blame ourselves and lay on the guilt and think about the what ifs. I’m glad you know that it was just a blip, an honest mistake, and you’re clearly doing a great job!
    Alison recently posted..Intrinsic GoodnessMy Profile

  2. says

    How many moments did I have raising 3 boys and screw up thinking the same thing about myself. With each one I would say AHA I won’t make that mistake only to make a totally different one and thinking where on earth did that idea come from and why did I think it was good.. it happens. The oldest made it all the way to 20 thus far.. so apparently we survived.
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  3. says

    Ah, I think we’ve all had those moments where we questioned our abilities to mother. I accidentally locked my 6 week old daughter in the car…in JULY. Been there. You were exhausted and overwhelmed by the newness of it all: just like everyone else. Don’t let anyone tell you they’re a perfect mom because they’d be lying. Or crazy. Or jerks.

  4. says

    What a terrifying moment!  But glad you realize that doe not make you a failure.   And, of course, the little girl was fine, oblivious to an exhausted mama’s mistake.

  5. says

    Oh I could feel the palpable panic in your voice as you replayed this story in this post! New momma guilt, and all of its associated chaos, is so scary, so alienating. It is a strong and loud voice that tells us we are failures. And I think part of the motherhood journey is learning to listen to the quiet whisper of the voice behind the guilt one, the one that says – “you are AWESOME! look at all you accomplished today!” It is not easy. But it’s always worth it. So glad you and your daughter have been able to continue growing and learning together. It makes being a mom SO worth it to have those wonderful memories to outweigh the scary ones~
    terra @ terratalking recently posted..What’s Up Wednesday.My Profile

  6. says

    I remember those exhausting days of mothering a newborn! I easily could have done the same thing. When I did lock myself out of the house, I had just picked up my two daughters from school, and it was the coldest, rainiest day of the entire month! At least we had an umbrella. ;)
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  7. says

    I can totally relate, I did the same with BOTH of my kids. One time even locking my 2 year old son with my newborn daughter. I thought he would drop her on her head and that I was the worst mom in the world. We’re mom’s we’re not perfect, we make mistakes – but nothing that damages our children as long as what we do is out of love!
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  8. says

    I 100% know that fear, that panic of “what the hell did I just do and WHY AM I ALLOWED TO PARENT THIS HUMAN?”
    OK, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but still – that feeling of “who left me in charge?”

    I’m glad you’re growing, together, figuring it out, together. it’s all anyone would ask.
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  9. says

    Ohhhhhhhh yeah.

    I remember when my twins were two months old, one month adjusted age, and I went back to school.  And I knew that I was *supposed* to miss them… but the drives between my home and the university, and then between the university and my home… when I was all alone in my car… that was the best part of my day, most days.

    There was this little hill right after the second to last turn on the way home.  And I would gun it on the way up to the hill, so that as I sped over it my stomach would lift like I was in a roller coaster.  And that one moment of exhilaration was what made me feel kind of human most of the time.

    My twins also just turned three.and now I have another baby… and it almost feels like I’m right back there- as helpless and lost and sure that I totally suck at this.

    Thanks for sharing. :)
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  10. says

    New motherhood is such a challenge.  We mostly make it up as we go along, with sprinklings of parenting book advice and (usually) unsolicited advice from friends and family.

    When I read your story, I didn’t think of your locking yourself out as a failure.  I see it as evidence of the powerful, urgent love you already had for your 3 week old child.  You ran around in a panic to get to her, uncaring about what the neighbors might think.  That’s motherhood.

    P.S.  One time I let my then-6 year old pump gas because I thought he’d enjoy feeling like a big boy.  He pulled the pump out of the tank while still pressing the handle and gas sprayed in his eyes and mouth.  We had to go to the ER to make sure there was no corrosive damage.  Mom Fail!

  11. says

    Ohmigosh, the panic is so real. Even if you can intellectually know that she’s fine, she’s sleeping, too little to get up and get into anything dangerous. My son ran away from us in a Walmart one day when he was 2 and we couldn’t find him for several minutes. It’s just terrifying!

  12. says

    I can so relate to the scare – I have had those moments too when in a hurry, I have locked the wrong door, lost a child, whatever :)
    As always, you deliver a thought provoking slice of life with wonderful writing.  Great to see you here!  
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  13. says

    Ah yes! You just reminded me of when I locked myself out with my 4 month old inside. We lived in a coach house and the only way inside was through a second story window. Fortunately one of our friends – who happened to be 6 and a half feet tall – was home. He jumped on the garbage can and got in the unlocked window. I was completely hysterical and my husband came home from work just to calm me down. You are so right that we grow with them because I had totally forgotten about that situation until I read your post.

  14. says

    That part about being a mother fearful of being alone with her newborn? Oh my yes. I’ve never been more terrified in my life. I remember my husband being away on a business trip in those early weeks and I waited in the house for my MIL to show up. 10 minute before she arrived, I completely broke down crying – I couldn’t manage another moment alone. But I so appreciate your perspective (and the reminder) that though each experience and triumph, we grow together. 
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  15. says

    It was 15 years ago for me.  It feels like forever.  She has grown into a remarkable young woman.  But I, too remember having feelings of guilt, of being inadequate.  If this is your worst mistake, you are doing an awesome job.  That dumb old stink bug!!
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  16. says

    I love how honest your writing is.

    I hope that when you tell your girl this story someday, it’s with the lesson that sometimes, stuff just happens. If the door wasn’t locked, or if that stink bug hadn’t ambled by right then, there’s no incident. No story.

    No blog.

    But it did, and there was, and there is. It’s a time when we are always so incredibly careful and something happens that we just didn’t consider.

    My youngest got bitten in the face by a dog recently in the park. I am so grateful it was under mom’s watch, not so that I could shirk the duty, but because she handled it so much more gracefully than I might have. Some things just happen.

    So, I’m kind of glad this happened to you when it did. Because of the blog it produced and the example of how you mother.
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