Tuesday really knocked the wind out of me. Better put, it knocked a tooth out of Ryan. And for the first time, it was all my fault.
Long story short, the boys and I had a perfect morning that literally went downhill. Humidity wasn't smothering us, Ryan was a champ on his bike hollering, "Thank you, cars!" for letting us cross the street and showing me the way to the the amazing "dirt mountains" Chris had found for them to play on during a previous boys-only bike ride, and we closed out the morning with a visit to the candy wall and playing in a tree while church bells rang. Next on our agenda was to stop to pick, "Black-eyed susans, Mom!" on our short bike ride home. I didn't think it all the way through and decided that we should go down a hill (probably one of the only hills in Indiana!) to get to our path home. The morning was going so perfectly, it slipped my mind that maybe Ryan wasn't capable of going down the hill on his bike safely. And he definitely wasn't. Not a single image has been as haunting to me as the image of him gaining speed, panicking and crashing crushingly hard into the fence at the bottom of the hill. I was too far away to do anything. I couldn't protect him. I couldn't protect him from the harm I put in his way!
Rough and tumble describes both of our children, but especially Ryan, so seasonal phenomena like summer knees all scraped up from playing outside don't make me bat an eye. Their injuries so far have made me sad and want to take all their pain away, but those knees and bruises are little speed bumps in their daily adventures that grow more and more independent each day. They are being children. I'd give as many healing kisses as they'd need rather than snuff the adventure out. But those adventures involve climbing reasonable ladders and jumping from reasonable ledges. They explore in reasonable environments that I put them in. Ryan's crash and resulting injury came out of my stupid decision even though I am the one past the age of reason.
Since the crash, Ryan's gums and face are bruised and the right side of his face is covered in scratches. But his memory is so forgiving! He has already begged to go on a bike ride again and again, and he has eaten an almost innumerable amount of popsicles. He proudly recounts that he ate an ice cream AND a milkshake. He's successfully practiced going down the hill while practicing braking (with Chris walking in front of him), and he tells me, "I can still smile, Mom!"
I haven't been as forgiving. Each smile and laugh from him just reminds me of Tuesday makes me replay the helpless image again in my mind. Maybe it's the raw nature of this inaugural pain-causing mistake, maybe it's just testimony to the fact that I am a good mom who cares about her children as the priest I spoke to yesterday pointed out to me when I asked for advice. But I feel like I'm the fence; I feel like I knocked his tooth out with my own force.
In spite of my present inability to forgive myself, I have reached a point of clarity.
It came yesterday when I was wallowing and entering a tunnel of self-loathing thoughts, and I found myself thinking, "I shouldn't be his mother."
Ummm ... no.
My judgment of should or deserve or want or need doesn't belong there.
I am his mother.
I am his mother.
I have been his mother since before I knew of his presence. I have been his mom since before he was born.
I can't ever change that honor, lost baby tooth or not. My children can be brave enough to get back up, and I can be brave enough to kiss away the hurt again and again. So I'll keep just keep pedaling, just keep pedaling and hopefully soon I'll forgive myself like the boy I'm a mother to already has.
^^^ Our grainy photo from bedtime on Tuesday ^^^