Even Worse Are The Ones You Can’t See (Day #73)

I’ve scarred my child.

(I think)

I keep telling myself it was bound to happen, even though I don’t really believe that.  You hear horror stories about moms who clip off the tips of their babies’ fingers while trying to cut their little tiny baby nails.

I am one of those moms.

Oddly, I wasn’t all that worried that I might become one of these moms.  I say “oddly” because I generally obsess about all manner of mothering possibilities.  Will I be a mom who raises a fearful child, or an impolite one?  Will my child be the one other parents whisper about, the one they won’t let their children play with?  Will I put too much pressure on my child?  Not enough?  Will I make her neurotic?  Will I give her an eating disorder?

Will I cut off the tip of my child’s finger? was never really a big concern, largely because I didn’t really believe it was a risk.  How would a baby’s fingertip get into the little space between the clippers in the first place?  Nail clippers are designed to hold the finger back.  You’d have to be real idiot not to notice that your child’s finger was in the chomp zone.

Hi.  I’m an idiot.

So here I am, telling myself it was inevitable, that it happens to the best of moms, that it’s no big deal.  But I’m lying to myself.  I could’ve waited until Lil Mil was sleeping or nursing to attempt a baby manicure.  I could’ve used those clippers with the little magnifying glass attached.  I could’ve done a lot of things, but instead, I whipped out my regular adult-sized nail clippers and went to work while Lil Mil was thrashing around on her changing table.  And on nail 10 of 10, I clipped off a chunk of her skin.

Just like that.

Okay, so in defense of my parenting, I did manage to cut 9 of her 10 nails without a hitch.  That should be worth something, right?

The woman who once believed that only idiots could botch a task as simple as nail clipping now wants props for only scarring one of her child’s appendages.

The good news is, it didn’t bleed much.  And it apparently didn’t hurt that much, because I didn’t even realize it had happened until an hour later (don’t worry, they’re still accepting nominations for Mommy of the Year).  But from the looks of it, I think she might end up with a scar.

This, her very first scar, probably won’t be her last (although I’m hoping it’s the only one she’ll get from her idiot mommy).  If she turns out to be as athletic as her daddy (or as clumsy as her idiot mommy), she’ll probably end up with all manner of scrapes and cuts, some of which will probably scar.  I hope she’ll wear these scars proudly.  The scars of a life well-lived.

These scars don’t scare me.

The ones I’m worried about are the ones I won’t be able to see.  The ones on the inside.  The scars on her psyche.

I’d like to believe that Lil Mil could reach adulthood unscathed.  I’d like to believe this, but I don’t know anyone who has.  I certainly didn’t.  Even though I had perfect parents (I did.  I really did.), I still ended up with hurts they couldn’t heal.  Hurts they didn’t even know I had.

As I sit here staring at the tip of Lil Mil’s tiny little ring finger, at that tiny little chunk of missing flesh, I am aware of how powerless I am to protect her.  Yes, this particular scar was avoidable.  But some won’t be.  Someone will hurt her feelings.  Someone will crush her dreams.  Someone will break her heart.

And I won’t be able to fix it.  I won’t be able to just dab some Neosporin on it and cover it with a bandaid.  In fact, I probably won’t even be the person she comes to.  Odds are, she’ll have wounds and scars I’ll never even know about.

This, I think, must be the hardest thing about motherhood.  To know that, with each day, life is only going to get harder for this precious little person you love so much and want so badly to protect.

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How do we protect our children from wounds inflicted by mean girls and even meaner boys?  Are some scars unavoidable?  Have you ever cut your child’s finger while clipping his/her nails?


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