I've committed dozens (and dozens) of parenting failures over the past seven years since my daughter was born.
I got an epidural, eventually quit breastfeeding (not weaned...quit), and almost didn't take her for stitches when she bashed her forehead into the coffee table, because, well, it looked okay to me.
Humor aside, as a parent with a traumatic brain injury, I also have truly failed as a parent during the times that I have been too physically sick to be with her, care for her, or simply be there FOR her. I'm constantly wracked with guilt for the times I have missed, the events I don't remember, and the parenting her grandparents have had to do when they should have been able to simply be grand parenting.
I've long been awaiting the day when she actually comes out and tells me how much she is affected by having a parent with chronic pain, and how she simply wishes for an easier life with a 'normal mom.' She often shows me that living with me is hard with her actions and behavior, but her words are always sweet and loving when it comes to what type of parent I am.
Children are resilient, people tell me, and yes, I believe that to an extent, but I worry how this life, this schedule, the hospitals, the meds, the pain and the frustration really affect her.
Well, today I finally heard the words I have been dreading. The words that I know are true. 'Mommy, you cracked my heart.' Tears filling her eyes and running slowly down her beautiful cheeks, my own heart sank for a second, and felt as if it too, might crack. And then, as if I floated out of the situation and realized what was actually going on before I spoke again, I couldn't actually believe what had just happened. I cracked my poor daughter's little seven year old heart. She was done being nice; the truth was out. I cracked her heart...because I wouldn't buy her Twinkle Toes when we took her little brother for new sneakers. Yes, seriously.
This, my friends, is how I broke my daughter's heart. No light up, fluorescent, over-priced, bedazzled feet. This was true anguish, and real, streaming uncontrollable tears. My sweet girl has so much to cry about when it comes to having me as her mom, and I cracked her heart (I didn't have the heart to ask her where she learned that it was cracked vs. broke) because of a pair of shoes.
I'm not saying that having a parent with chronic pain doesn't affect her, believe me, it does. However, she doesn't think I'm a bad mom for it, or hate me for it apparently; at least not consciously. This moment, wrought with many tears and seemingly real emotional pain for her was a huge moment for me as a mom. As it turns out, in her eyes, I'm just a regular, run of the mill mean mom who won't buy twinkle toes, just like the rest of you, and that is something I can easily live with. Okay, it's something I can tolerate. Fine, I still feel a bit guilty and am writing this while snuggling with her in her bed in hopes of repairing her cracked heart by morning.