When my son was 16 months old, he wanted to go down a big curvy slide at the playground. It was definitely too big for him, but we had already climbed all the way up this huge, crowded play structure and the easiest way down was sliding. So, I decided to put him in my lap and just slide down with him.
I had heard stories. I had even read a blog post long before I even had kids from someone who broke her child’s leg by going down a slide with her child on her lap. But, I didn’t think that could happen to me — because surely she did something wrong when she did it and I would be careful.
As we curved around the slide, we went much faster than I was anticipating, and my son’s leg got caught under mine. As soon as we hit the bottom, he started crying, and I got that awful, sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I tried to ignore my gut and to assure myself he was fine, but as he refused to bear any weight on it, I realized:
A trip to the ER confirmed he had a hairline fracture in his tibia. Outwardly, I tried to be brave and calm through the whole ordeal, but internally I was a mess. I felt like every person in the waiting room was staring at me, judging me for being a terrible mother.
For the next five weeks, he was in a cast – a cast which served as a constant reminder everywhere we went of my mistake. Strangers would look at him with pity, and every time someone would ask how it happened, that sick feeling in my stomach would return. I was so embarrassed and so ashamed.
One of my biggest fears when becoming a mom was that people would realize I had absolutely no idea what I’m doing–that I’m a fraud. When my son broke his leg because of my actions, it just confirmed my fear. It even went a step further by putting my mistake on display for everyone to see.
That’s actually one of those somewhat generic pieces of advice I received over and over again when I was pregnant. I’m not quite sure I completely understood what it meant until this particular chapter of parenting.
In our case, it meant my son figured out how to crawl in his cast just a few days after breaking his leg. He continued to smile and laugh and play and just be himself…as if it never happened. Sure, he now had a big bulky cast on his leg, but other than that, he carried on with his adorable life.
While I was still consumed by my fears and insecurities, he had already completely moved on, and that eventually gave me the ability to move forward.
As humiliating as it is, making mistakes is a big part of the learning process. It’s not healthy to live in a place of constant fear. Focus on doing the best you can as a mom and keep moving forward when you do make mistakes.
I’ve tried to tell people when I see them doing this at the playground as lovingly as I can, but it’s difficult to speak up when you see someone doing something potentially harmful. I used bad judgment in a split second that caused my child pain and it was easily preventable. If I can help prevent just one other family from going through what I went through, it’s worth it.
Being a parent is hard. Raising kids is hard. Thankfully we don’t have to do it alone. We’re all in this together. Just not on slides.
Kristi Montague is a designer, maker and jack-of-all-trades who owns and operates Montague Workshop, a creative studio, with her husband Brad. From Kid President to books and birds and more, their studio aims to joyfully rebel against the world that is to create the world that could be. She’s also a mama two toddlers and lives in a 117-year-old house in rural Tennessee. You can follow her on Instagram, and see the latest projects from Montague Workshop on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
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