It is windy in Melbourne tonight. Dark and cold, a sudden
gust blows through the trees outside the nursery window and my daughter and I, we
rock and rock, back and forth, back and forth. We are safe and warm here.
Today she fell face first down a stair made of bricks. One
moment she was inside with us, the next moment pierced by the sound of her
scream, my heart pierced with it. So fast. She moves so fast now. I ran. Saw
her lying there. And her head was down as she cried and I knew, I just knew, when I lifted her up there
would be blood everywhere. There was blood everywhere. She cried into my brand
new cardigan and I knew that my shoulder was going to be stained with her blood
and I didn’t give a damn even though I never buy new cardigans and I really
love my new cardigan. I’ll go home and spray it with something and it will come
out or it won’t but I didn’t care. I just cared whether her little teeth were
still intact. Thank you Jesus, they were perfect. I only cared that she would
stop crying, that I could comfort her and take away the pain.
“It happens,” my beautiful friend soothed me, handing us a
wet facewasher for my baby girl to suck, something to soothe that precious
pouty top lip that was swollen three times its size.
“I know it does,” I replied but I didn’t feel soothed. Couldn’t feel soothed. Even though I
know this is parenthood, and childhood is a series of bumps and scrapes and fat
lips. Parenthood is guilt in varying degrees. Most days, just a mild underlying
buzz about the things you could probably do better and other days, a wailing
siren of reproach; YOU ARE FUCKING THIS UP.
When your fourteen month old baby looks like someone punched
her in the face, the siren wails. When your three-and-a-half-year-old shits his
pants (again) because he is too afraid to use the toilet, the siren wails.
But then you’ll sit with your school kid and do some
Mathletics on the computer and you’ll realise how far he has come and just how
much he knows. He knows so much more than you could ever imagine. He knows
patterns and numbers and his school teacher deserves a bottle of the very best
wine for Christmas but also, somewhere in there you could probably take some
credit because you’ve kind of had a hand in developing this little person, too.
I am the first to put my hand up to take blame. Sometimes I
should put my hand up for some of the credit.
But now my baby is crying again. I’ll need to go back in and
rock and rock and rock. Her lip is swollen three times its size and I think it
hurts her. It might be a long night.
Back and forth, back and forth. Outside, the wind will
trouble the leaves on the trees but we will be safe and warm here.