Guilt. It’s a feeling we all have at multiple points in our lives. But in all honesty, I feel as if I have more guilt now as a mother than I had before my little baby came into this world. There are so many things that I feel guilty about, so many things I would like to apologize for. But she’s too young and doesn’t understand what happened. She still smiles at me and doesn’t hold any grudges. I know she still loves me the way she wants me to hold her when she cries and the way she puts her arms around me when she’s ready to sleep. But as a mother, I can’t help but feel that I’m not good enough for her. I could have done this better or that differently. So many things run through my mind as I look at my beautiful daughter.
First of all, I want to apologize for the first night I took you home from the hospital. I wasn’t used to staying up most of the night caring for a nursing baby and the lack of sleep was getting to me. I thought your cries were cries of hunger when I should have checked your diaper to see that you made a stinky. The look of horror on my face and the way my heart dropped when I realized it in the morning made me feel like such a failure. The first night at your new home and I was already screwing up. I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt even though the poop in your diaper was no more than a smear of color.
I’m sorry you fell off the bed…twice. The first time, I was in the study room while you were sleeping on the bed. The sharp cry that echoed through the house made me jump to my feet and rush to your bedside. I turned the light on only to see you not on the bed. I immediately broke out in tears and rushed to pick you up. What’s worse about it was that there was a ladder next to the bed since your daddy was storing things in the attic and haven’t moved it yet. The leg of the ladder was on your neck and I had no idea what to think. I didn’t know if you got a cut there or if you were choking or if you were crying just from the shock of it all. I picked you up and texted your father right away telling him I’m bringing you to the ER. He called me and told me to check if you were fine, which you were. But still I sat there crying and feeling like such a failure.
The second time you fell off the bed was, in my opinion, preventable. So many what ifs in that situation. What if your daddy and I didn’t get into an argument and what if we were in the bedroom instead of the living room hashing it out. What if we just dropped it and went to bed. But those what ifs were too late when we heard a thump in the bedroom when we were in the middle of talking it out. We didn’t hear you cry but rushed into the bedroom anyways only to see you on the floor, wide-eyed and awake where you were once sleeping soundly on the bed. Pillows in both cases did not help. You’ve learned to crawl over it in your sleep. The only thing that could block you was me or your daddy sleeping next to you. But yes, the guilt we felt was a hundred times more than the shock you must’ve felt when you fell. So for that, dear child, I’m very sorry.
I’m sorry for the time you hit your head on the coffee table. You were just learning how to walk with the help of grasping onto furniture. You were just walking along while I was sitting right behind you. You lost your grip on the table with one hand and fell, your cheek hitting the bottom level of the table where we keep our random magazines and toys. I was right behind you and saw the whole thing. It was as if you were falling in slow motion but it happened so fast I didn’t have time to catch you. The bruise on your beautiful face was enough for me to swear to be a buffer between you and any hard objects that surrounded you for the rest of your life. But the way you smiled after the pain subsided alleviated my feeling of guilt. You got back up and continued with what you were doing as if nothing ever happened at all. That moment made me feel proud of what a brave baby girl you’re becoming.
I’m sorry for letting strangers…well only one or two (so far) pinch your cheeks. You are just so adorable with those chipmunk cheeks that random moms and grandmas will come up to me to tell me what a cute baby I have. Most are respectful and will keep a good distance away. But one grandma at a laundromat touched your cheeks while playing with you and another lady who had a young son pinched it while telling me how cute you are. I don’t think it’s a horribly big deal but I don’t know where their hands have been. If you grow up to be a clean freak, I hope you’ll forgive me. I’ll try my best to be more assertive next time and tell people “please do not touch my baby.” I just don’t want to seem like a mean mommy b!tch when someone’s trying to compliment me on my outstanding genes for creating such a lovable offspring.
I’m sorry for that time at the grocery store when a lady mistook you for a baby boy. She was an old lady who said I had a handsome son. I didn’t have the heart to correct her so I just said “thank you” and went on with the rest of my shopping trip. We don’t want to pierce your ears as a baby and we buy gender neutral clothes just in case we give you a brother in the future so it’s hard for people to tell if you’re a girl or boy. I’ve purchased ribbons and bows for your hair since that incident so people would know your gender. But still, I’m sorry for not correcting her when she called you a boy.
Of all the things to be sorry for, I’m most sorry that this world is filled with so much pain and hurt and disappointment and there’s no way to shield you from all of it. I can’t protect you from everything, but I’ll definitely try my best to. And in the rare occasion that mommy can’t save you from the world, I promise to arm you with a strong heart and a loving spirit. For even if the world is cruel to you, does not mean that you can’t reciprocate with gentleness and kindness. I hope that as I guide you in this journey called life, I’ll teach you how to love and how to live. How to let go of negative things and hold on to happiness. I hope to teach you to always believe in yourself and never underestimate what you’re capable of achieving. In this big world, you might be just a drop of water in the ocean, but that drop, when it enters the ocean, can have a rippling effect that lasts for miles and miles. I hope to help you face this world with confidence, strength, and courage. Raising you and watching you grow up, there’s no rewind button or take-backs. So as you get older, if I haven’t instilled these qualities in you, well, that would be something I’m very, very sorry for.
The list for this can go on and on. But one day, if you ever find this (or if I tell you about it) and you’re interested enough to come and read it, just know that I love you. I love you with a love that I didn’t know could exist. A love that started the day I found out you were in my womb being formed and created. I can’t promise you that you’ll never feel another bump on your head or a scrape on your knee. I can’t guarantee that your heart will never be broken. But I can promise you that I’ll be there to kiss away all the tears. I promise to be there when you need guidance, when you need laughter, and when you need tough love. I also promise to walk away when it’s necessary, even if it pains my heart. You are my first-born and I am a new mother who hasn’t had much experience with this parental thing at all. But just know that I tried my absolute best and if it wasn’t good enough, well, I’m sorry…