Babies are precious and fragile. Toddlers are fearless and dangerous. They are still precious but they are slightly less fragile than babies. For this I am eternally thankful. If Wanda were still as breakable now as she was six months ago, she would have died three times today.
Her face is covered in little bruises from where she has bobbled, careened and slammed into baskets, plastic slides and flooring. She walks like an inexperienced sailor on a small vessel being tossed in a violent tropical storm surge. Maybe if we put her on a boat she could walk in a straight line.
She scares me.
I follow her around as she giggles and trips her way through life and then pick her up when she gets a new shiner and finds herself lying flat on her face screaming her brains out. The poor little bub. Learning to walk is a hazardous job. I have 30 years of experience and I still have problems occasionally.
Today I was carrying her down the stairs which were covered with snow gear land mines from the older two who had been enjoying the first Seattle snow in two years when my foot came down wrong on a boot. I did my best to recover as my ankle twisted and I came crashing to the floor holding the baby. A few inches before I hit the ground, she slipped from my hands and landed face-first on the wood floor.
Luckily Dan was home because he was able to rush in and grab Wanda from the front entry where we were both sprawled out screaming. Yes. I was screaming. I generally think of myself as good in emergencies but I was completely incapacitated, my eyes closed, screaming the scream I haven’t used since I watched Magoo ride his bike full speed towards a busy road next to the playground this summer.
I kept seeing her in my mind flying toward the hard floor. In my imagination she fell a lot farther. In my imagination she didn’t get back up. It was terrifying. When we’d figured out that we were all fine and I’d stopped screaming, I sat next to Dan on the couch sobbing.
We’re all so fragile. Everything could change in an instant and it scares me. When Magoo learns how to swear on the Kindergarten bus and I realize that we’re no longer the only influencers in his life. When one of Laylee’s former schoolmates plans to murder other children. When my 14-month-old and I go tumbling down the stairs. I realize I can’t protect them from everything but oh, how I want to.
This Thanksgiving I’m grateful for every moment I have with my family. I’m grateful for the messes, the teething, the lego burns on the arches of my feet. I’m grateful to share this life with such lovely people and to have the chance to care for them, to scream when they scare me and to hold them as tightly as I can.