Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Letter To My Son After I Let Him Fall on His Face

Oh Son,

Time freezes frame by frame. We're stepping out the door, you riding your little toddler train. Your nose is running, always running. I step back inside to grab you some tissue, the thought flitting through my mind, “I shouldn't leave him.” But I did. Just for an instant. I come back and see you sister's face, panic plastered on. Her hands cover her ears, her tell tale sign of fear. A hand clenches round my heart. And then I look toward those two steps. I see your feet in the air, your face in the cement. The hand wrenches my heart tight. I bend low, my spirit lower, and scoop you up. I lift and turn to see your pain, blood running down.

“Oh, God. Oh, God” the prayer, the plea escapes my lips. To turn back time. Your screams pierce my gut. My mind sees your little train start to roll toward the steps, you not knowing how to stop. And where is Mom, the stopper of disaster? She was not there, and the guilt shatters me through.

I pick a piece of your tooth from your bloody chin. Let it not be so. Oh, to take your pain, to make it all mine. My tears flow free.

It's two days later now. Doctor and dentist consulted, you're going to be fine. I'm not so sure about me. Your front teeth are too tender to bite down, but you're learning to manage. You're a tough little man. You're already back on your train, daring adventurer not to be daunted.

Your scabs are healing. But there's that chipped tooth, nothing to be done. There to remind me of how I failed you. 

Maybe you'll read this one day, and I think I'm being a bit dramatic.  (That's a comforting thought.)  And perhaps this is all a bit dramatic, but in the moment there's nothing non-dramatic about a bloody screaming child.  These are my true mother feelings welling up within.  And this letter is my way to deal with it.     

In this morning's waking moments, you buried your head in my neck, your heart against mine, your hand so gently rubbing my shoulder. There you rested content, so full of trust and grace, at home in my arms. My heart overflowing with gratitude and breaking with unworthiness.

For I know I will fail you again in this life, and I cannot bear the thought. For not all of life's mistakes are made on baby teeth. But please, please know my heart for you.   

And may your beautiful heart always flow with such grace and love.  It may not matter to you now, but I want to always ask for your forgiveness when I fail you.  So Son, please forgive me for letting you fall on your face. 

Gratefully unworthy for a gift such as you,


***Any thoughts on failing our children?***


  1. Oh, man, Danielle. I have been there! Anne's front two teeth were chipped off when she was about 14 months old on cement steps at the library. (They healed up and stayed in. I imagine they'll fall out any day now to make room for htose big kid teeth.) But oh, my heart. I remember. It happens. Thank you for finding the bigger truth in it for us all.

    1. Thanks, Sarah. Hate that you went through it too, but nice to know I'm not alone.

      And thank you for giving all of us the chance to share our voice through your beautiful Carnival. Truly brilliant.