It's really hard to put my thoughts into words right now, I'm going on a couple hours of sleep...so bear with me.
My mom, Hailey and I ran by Walmart yesterday evening. I was exhausted from a weekend of non-stop cleaning and sort of felt like I was walking around in a fog. Hailey used to do great at the store. I could usually give her something to eat and she'd sit there nicely, quietly eating. Now that she's a big girl (WAY too big for her britches in fact) she insists on walking most of the time. Which wouldn't be a problem except she likes to dart right in front of people...people who then give me dirty looks like "Can't you control your kid??" Or she'll run down the isle before I can stop her. She's fearless when it comes to some things. I'm not like that, I never have been. On one hand this is a good thing...maybe she won't be as painfully shy as I was growing up. But on the other hand, how many times is she going to hurt herself before she listens to me? What's it going to take for her to get my point? Falling down the stairs and breaking the fall with her face at my brother and sister in law's house sure didn't do the trick. Nor did flipping out of the front of the cart and splatting on the hard concrete floor at Walmart last night.
The problem is, something horrible happens and she cries for MAYBE 5 minutes tops. Then she's fine and wants to go play. Not a mark on her. No blood, no bruises, no scrapes. Don't get me wrong, she's got bruises all over her legs. One on her butt. One on her back. I'm ultra paranoid somebody's going to see her and think we abuse her! But it's not from major stuff like this. She's just clumsy like me and falls a lot, or runs into stuff etc. Last night I ran into my mom's car...she always jokes about how clumsy I am...as in "Didn't see the car there didja?" I thank God that Hailey's never really been hurt badly when something horrible like this happens. I don't know HOW she's not at LEAST bruised...but I thank God. It could have turned out much, much worse each time these things happened.
Besides having no idea how to teach her that she can't run off in a store (because talking firmly and putting her in time outs just doesn't work) or walk down stairs herself or climb out of a cart on her own...there's also the issue of this huge guilt I feel. Other people's kids aren't getting hurt like this. I've never in my life seen a kid fall out of a shopping cart. Yea, those warnings on the little flip down plastic thing in the kid's seat?? There are a REASON for those. I grew up riding in the basket of the cart, I thought people that insisted their kids only rode strapped in to the child seat were overly anal. That's one thing I've learned since having a kid...your views on parenting before you have kids are constantly changed after you actually have one. So back to my point...I feel so incredibly responsible and horribly guilty for these falls she's had. I've turned my back for one second and BOOM it's happened. But these things don't seem to be happening to other kids...why on earth can't I keep them from happening to mine? Am I a bad mother? I can't keep an eye on her 100% of the time. I should be able to turn away for a second to grab a package of strawberries without having to worry she's going to dive headfirst out of the cart. She's 2 years old for God sakes!!!! And why does she run away? Why is she not scared of all these people walking around her? Why is it hilarious to make Mommy leave her purse and cart and have to chase after her, when the end result is me holding her very firmly (sometimes upside down or by her legs or whatever other part of her I can grab) and telling her in a very mean voice what she did and why it is wrong. My kid doesn't throw tantrums hardly EVER. If she does they're very short lived, no longer than 30 seconds. She doesn't get into things at home that she shouldn't. I never had to baby proof except to put those little plugs in the outlets. She doesn't climb on the furniture. She doesn't jump of the couch or off her bed. But then she'll try to climb out of a shopping cart herself or go down stairs without railings. Repeatedly. You'd think she'd be afraid of stairs after that incident, right? Nah. Sure she lets me hold her hand more now without arguing. But she's still more than happy to try them herself.
She's just like her father. If he says he wants to try something fairly dangerous, like doing a back flip off the side of the swimming pool when he hasn't in YEARS and is quite a few pounds heavier than he was as a youngun...you can't tell him not to, you can't tell him he's going to hurt himself, because he'll do it anyway. Afterwards, when you're fishing him out of the water with a huge goose egg on his head, you say "I told you so" and he learns his lesson and you move on. Is this the way I'm going to have to raise Hailey? Do everything I possibly can to keep her from getting hurt while living in fear that the second I turn my back she's going to do something really daring and hurt herself? So I can give her the lecture "Hailey, Mommy told you you cannot climb out of the cart by yourself...that's what happens, you fall and hurt yourself. You have to ask for help if you want to do that, you say 'Mommy please get me out of the cart.'"??
I'm so confused right now. I can tell I'm not even making any sense. My job as Hailey's parent is to keep her safe, teach her lessons and rules, instill good values in her and hopefully give her a happy life. I feel like I'm failing, hugely.
She's a good kid. She's amazingly caring and gentle and sweet. But she got my stubbornness, my bossiness, my clumsiness...D's focus (this is good and bad) and daring and apparently sometimes bad judgement. (Or is that last one just a toddler trait???) And she's not ALWAYS like that when we go out...she's just unusually squirrelly sometimes.
I'm sick of people looking at me like I'm a bad mother. YAY for them that their kid sits in the cart or their stroller like an angel and doesn't move or talk. My kid is more strong-willed (and wants to participate in every activity...she's not just there to look cute). I'm not sure how to change that. What am I doing wrong? And how can I shake this feeling like these things should NOT be happening to her, and that I'm a horrible mother for turning my back for a second?
I'm to the point where I don't want to take her anywhere anymore because I'm afraid she'll get hurt. She doesn't get hurt at home. Nobody's judging us at home or getting irritated at my kid (ok most people think she's adorable, but she does get looks sometimes that make me want to walk up and smack the person). I've always felt very strongly about not altering your life hugely just for your kids...about taking them with you to do things so they learn how to behave going out to eat or in a store etc. But I don't want her to get hurt in the process.