Friday, September 10, 2010

On Being Gentle and Making Mistakes

If I could choose one word to describe my parenting style I think I would chose "relaxed." As anyone who knows me well realizes, I am not a relaxed person by nature, but when I was pregnant with my daughter I read about the philosophy of attached and gentle parenting and it really struck a chord with me. Attachment parenting means a lot of different things to many people but to me and my husband it comes down to one simple idea: respect. We chose to treat our daughter as we would like to be treated ourselves, but with understanding that due to her age and lack of experience we must necessarily step in to gently guide her.

Yesterday evening my daughter wanted to run across a crowded parking lot in her excitement to see our mutual friend, Christie. I insisted that she hold my hand and we could both run but, two year old that she is, she pulled her hand from my grasp and horror of horrors, face-planted into the pavement. As the blood gushed out of her mouth I could see little white pieces of tooth and I thought "Oh no, I am one of those mom's." However, with a hysterical child in my arms we rushed over to Christie's truck and amazingly, my daughter stopped crying.  I was totally puzzled as I knew she was in a lot of pain, but then it dawned on me as I watched her desperate attempts to hold it together, "Ravenna is trying to be brave for Christie."
The Damage (She is trying to smile)

Wow, until that moment I had not realized that my daughter had that capacity. Where had she even seen that? There is so much that one learns in parenting but I am daily amazed at how much I am missing of my child's character.

After getting my daughter tucked into bed that evening I felt such guilt for not being able to save my daughter from the pain of a bloodied and swollen lip and chipped tooth, and also for my selfish worrying what other people would think of me when they saw my daughter's face and smile, now very much changed. I kept coming back to images of my daughter's brave little face that collapsed into hysteria once again as soon as Christie left. At that moment while still feeling a great deal of guilt, I also felt gratitude for the realization that the child in my care is made of stronger stuff than I had thought and that I needed to be gentle with myself.

Occasionally I need to be reminded that the principles I have espoused to guide my parenting decisions should also be applied to myself. I need to be gentle and non-judgmental with myself when I make mistakes and when I am not wholly the person I strive to be. Perhaps from now on every time I look at my daughters changed smile I will recall this lesson and show my daughter, and myself a little more respect.


  1. Poor Ravenna! I'm glad you posted this, I think I need to be reminded to not be so critical of myself as a mother, and as a person. No one is perfect, and when we make mistakes, it doesn't make us a horrible parent. We really do need to be more forgiving and gentle to ourselves. Thanks Carrie.

  2. I think you are an awesome mom! Seriously, I love how you teach, love, care for, play with, and respect Ravenna.

  3. Absolutely, this is a learn as you go life.
    Ravenna showed me her owie yesterday and beamed when I told her it looked good, ha ha, so cute.

  4. Ouch, I hate seeing my kids get hurt.