I thought I knew what it was.
I mean, what it really was.
Looking back, I see that I was a fool and that I had very little understanding of the true meaning of the word.
I was a fool to think that the pounding in my chest and the wide-eyed, deer-in-head-lights look equaled fear.
I thought that the whole numb feeling in my limbs was a sign that I was truly afraid.
Afraid, for instance, to be alone in the dark, afraid of what it meant to have a step-parent, afraid of a sub-standard test grade and what consequences were in store when I would come home from school, afraid of being found out.
At the time, it seemed legitimate.
Now I know better.

Something I read brought the visuals back to me.
Reminded me of my fear of losing him - losing either one of them.
It once was a distant thought. Just out of my reach. Something I never thought I'd have to face.
But the fact that one day, he came so close to being gone, rocks me to my core.
The words I read - words belonging to someone else - brought back the images I thought I had somehow managed to forget.
How naive and egotistical of me to think that?
How could I possibly forget?

How could I, his mother, forget that I turned my back, or that I was that stupid, that I would take such a chance with something so precious?

Why on Earth would I think, for a second, that I would be able to block out of my mind the look on his face - the fear and desperation in his eyes?
Or worse yet - what he was probably thinking, during those water-filled moments.
Things like Why is it taking so long? When will she notice that I am submerged and come over and get me?
I imagine that those moments must have felt like an eternity to him.

Is that part of our mother-son bond now?
The fact that we both now know what fear really means?
If so, it is not a glowing testament on my part, as a mother.

I wonder if that is the day my creativity, my words, got left at the side of the pool?
Because looking back, I haven't been the same since that day.
I even feel silly saying that, because I - we - were blessed with a happy ending.
But the guilt, the images, the fear just won't go away.

Writing about this makes me feel guilty.
and even throw in a dash of

I feel like writing it out like this, makes it sound as if it is all about me, how I feel, how I can't shake the images that repeat themselves in my mind's eye. How terrified they make me feel. Even now that it has been almost 8 months ago...It's a vicious mental cycle I am in.
Shouldn't it be about him?

I guess I just want him to know I'm better than that horrific moment in our history.
I guess I just want to know I'm better than that horrific moment in our history.

14 ripples in the pond:

liv said...

oh, honey. ((hugs))

these moments feel like the place where we are defined, but the truth is that our definition is over the long haul.


thailandchani said...

Oh, heavens!

Let me break down your argument here a bit:

1) You are not a bad mother. If you were a bad mother, you would have forgotten it already.

2) It is unlikely he will remember it in years to come.

3) There is absolutely no way you will ever be able to protect your children from every eventuality. The world is full of dangerous things and accidents happen,

4) Let up on yourself. That is not your defining moment.

Just a few thoughts. Discard if they are not useful to you. :)

Peace.. to you.. and to him.

Maigh said...

Baby girl, you have my big ole stinky mental hugs. Many of them.

You also have my recommendation to go talk to someone. Not us - I mean us, too - but someone with a medical license. Someone who can help you properly work through your grief, guilt and your healing. I'm serious...I don't know where I'd be without mine.

Love, candy bars and whatever else might comfort you,


Tabba said...

Liv, Chani, Maigh - How your words comfort. And oh, how I've missed your voices.

Maigh - you are so right, love. so, so right and I am working my way up to making that crucial phone call.
You're a peach. Thank you.

jen said...

honey, i remember that day so well. of course you are a wonderful mother. of course it still haunts you.

it's the sum rather than our parts.

flutter said...

Oh, honey...

Pgoodness said...

you're doing just fine, but as others have said, this does not define you - as a mother, as a person - you need time to process and let go - it was a mistake and it's ok. Really. He's ok. Your guilt will fade, leaving peace and knowledge in its place.

Joker The Lurcher said...

someone once said to me that i should not look at how my son experiences things from the perspective of my own childhood. it struck me as very wise.

bad stuff does happen - it happened to your lovely son. the difference is he is not the little child in the parking lot at night, surrounded by police cars, who never knows what is round the corner. your son knows that when bad stuff happens you are there to make it better.

Her Grace said...

It will live with you much longer than it will live with him. Also, what thailandchani said.

carrie said...

You are better than that moment. You are a phenomenal mom and that moment does not get to take your glory away like you are letting it. Don't let it.

And we ALL make mistakes, every one of us. If we didn't, than how would we learn? How would we know? How would we understand?

Your little guy sees the mama inside that loves him to pieces no matter what. Nothing else.

deb said...

I think writing about it and sharing it with us helps to work through the grief. Telling our stories is how humans deal with bad stuff. And I'm sending you a hug. I've missed you.

alejna said...

Of course you are better than that moment. And of course it still haunts you. It was a terrifying event.

We all have scary moments of carelessness, but most of them go blessedly uneventfully. But I think back on some times when my lapse of attention, my obliviousness to some danger could have led to disaster, and my stomach turns. One electrocution hazard that I discovered comes to mind, which was sitting around for days before I recognized it for what it was. Happily my daughter did not pay attention to it before I did. I was lucky that things turned out okay, that there was no trip to the emergency room. Or worse.

I have a friend who realized that she forgot to buckle her daughter's straps in her infant seat in the car when her daughter was only a few weeks old. Had she gotten in a even a minor accident, there could have been trauma or tragedy. But she was lucky, too. There was no accident. She was able to set the incident aside.

I'm glad that you've gotten such wonderful comments from people. I wanted to leave a comment earlier, but comments often come slowly to me. So I came back.

I hope that you are still looking into taking maigh's advice. Chocolate included.

Aliki2006 said...

Oh, Tabba--I come back overjoyed to find you here and then you bring me to tears!! We are all human, we parents--we mothers. You are so much MORE than that terrible day, those horrible moments. I think the advice you've already received is perfect--process the fear and the guilt, and then leave it behind--in the past, where it belongs.

Jen M. said...

I remember the day you posted that. I felt so sick inside - for both of you. You are both so much more than that one moment. But maybe you were naive to think that the terror you felt would go away? You probably have a little ptsd associated with this event - you can move past this.
And - he didn't drown. He is here. You are here.