The Holly Holm vs. Ronda Rousey Approach to Parenting
Do You Suffer From EPGD?
I think that I enjoy writing about my less than stellar parenting moments because I have to believe that there are other people out there who stumble into similar situations with their own children, then beat themselves up for being human.
We have all done it, made that one simple mistake which leads to messing something up for your kid. Unknowingly misinforming them about something, misguidedly lying to them because you want to shield their innocence. Losing it and screaming at their sweet little horrified faces, or even stepping on their tiny toes (or worse). And, easy as it is for me to sit here and write not to be so hard on yourselves, I admit that I too suffer from E.P.G.D.: Excessive Parental Guilt Disorder. This is not exclusive to parents, so feel free to replace “Parental” with your own relational-title. I haven’t come across too many adults that interact with children on a regular basis who could say with complete certainty that they haven’t at least slightly and inadvertently contributed to screwing up a child.
One specific and completely relatable example of a mother with E.P.G.D. recently came to my attention. I have this aunt. She’s one of my absolute favorite people in the world, is a fantastic aunt to myself and my children, not to mention a great mom to her daughters. When her oldest (shout out to the practice children everywhere, my oldest included!) was a baby, she was outside with her when she realized that the infant was facing a solar eclipse. I’m sure it was just for a second and quickly corrected, no real harm. To this day she apparently still worries that this might be the reason that my cousin needs to wear glasses. This is what we do to ourselves.
It can be really hard to let go of that guilt. For some of us it’s impossible. I think that mothers carry the weight of those incidents for the rest of their lives. So much so that it makes the possibility of one day being senile and/or forgetful kind of appealing. Writing about it can help, in my experience. I think that if I can laugh about my worst parenting moments, and maybe help someone reading laugh and/or think to themselves “Whoa, guess I’M actually doing pretty well!”, then maybe the overall load won’t feel so darn heavy. It is in this spirit that will now tell you all about the Christmas Eve lunch of 2015 – The one where I slammed my sweet Pre-schooler’s face violently into a restaurant table. With witnesses. Then laughed. Here we go.
The Face of My Victim:
"When I replay it in my mind it looks like a WWE Smackdown. I can only imagine what it looked like from other people’s perspectives."
All right, there we were. My husband, myself and our three children, in the family car and on our way to a chain restaurant. Being Christmas Eve, we were afraid that getting a table would be difficult, but the place was actually pretty dead at first. We were seated at one of those really long booths, my husband and daughter on one side, myself in between the boys on the other. Lunch was eaten by all parties willingly and with minimal shenanigans. We did well! The restaurant had really filled up while we ate, and the waitress had her hands full, so getting the check took some time.
Little bodies get restless when they’re ready to get home. In an effort to keep the mood light and my youngest occupied, I started tickling his ribs a bit. Then I’d tease him with my napkin, laying it across my palm and using it to cover his entire face, which he thought was hilarious, so I kept it up! This is when it became a game to the boy, and he would attempt to keep the napkin from touching his face. He was kind of half-on/half-off of my lap, so to avoid being nailed in the chin by the back of his head every time he flinched, I started supporting the back of his neck with my left hand. Silly, sure, but he was giggling his butt off and we were still waiting.
Now let’s briefly recap. I was holding the back of this nearly five year old’s neck with my left hand. He kept attempting to push/jump backwards, so to protect my own face I was continually applying a certain amount of forward pressure. With my right hand, I was repeatedly and rapidly coming at his face with a napkin. He was trying to keep the napkin from touching his face and laughing like a little mad man.
Just then, he managed to move my right hand out of the trajectory for his face, and abruptly stopped pushing himself backward. My right hand was out of his way and, since I was still pushing pretty hard with my left . . . I smashed my baby boy’s face directly into the table. Really, really HARD. I was Holly Holm and he was Ronda Rousey.
When I replay it in my mind it looks like a WWE Smackdown. I can only imagine what it looked like from other people’s perspectives. When I looked over to my husband he was turning his head away, hand over his mouth, trembling because he was laughing so hard. My daughter’s eyes were frozen wide-open for a second, but she quickly began laughing like crazy. I was stunned, but also was trying to stifle uncomfortable laughter. I’m sure we looked super-sympathetic and caring. I was holding the little guy, rocking him and apologizing until I realized that he was also laughing, so we all lost it. Even more-so once he threw his arms in the air and yelled, "AGAIN!!!!!" He had a nice little red ridge across the top of his nose, which luckily didn’t swell up or turn black. We all found the humor in it, but I still felt and still feel guilty.
"And the guilt train keeps on chugging!"
To top it all off, we went home, he thanked us for lunch, gave us hugs and kisses, then I sent him straight up to his room to take his daily rest. It only occurred to me a day later that sending your young child off to lay down and take a nap immediately following a “Hilarious Traumatic Brain Injury”? Probably not the soundest of parental decisions either. And the guilt train keeps on chugging!
He didn’t mention it again. By the time he got up from his rest the little red mark had disappeared, and he was fine. I’m mortified, sure, but it was also kind of hilarious. He’s quite resilient and as far as I can tell, he hasn’t forgotten any of his letters or numbers. He’s not running into walls (at least any more than usual) or forgetting anyone’s names. He’s going to be fine despite my latest parental foul. However, the revolving door of doubt and neurotic worrying will continue. This much I’ve managed to accept.