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Somersaults Aren't For Stairways

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Yesterday, my daughter arrived home from a visit with her grandparents. My heart broke when I saw her, wearing a huge lump on her forehead, tears streaming down her face. It seems she did a somersault - on a stairway. Actually, my son had let his ball roll down the stairway accidentally, and she was trying to be nice and retrieve it for him. As she neared the bottom of the stairs, she tumbled forward down three steps.

It's moments like that when we wish we were magic. Why couldn't I say "Abracadabra!" and make all the hurt go away? I think the bump and scratch bothered me more than it did her. She kept telling me that it's ok, she was fine. She sure didn't look fine! Aren't I supposed to be the protector? Why wasn't I there to catch her, or to keep her away from the stairs? Speaking to my mother on the phone yesterday evening, I found I wasn't the only one feeling guilty. I had to reassure my mother that it wasn't her fault, while battling my own feelings of guilt.

The truth is, no matter how hard we try, we can't protect our children from every fall. But we can be there to pick them up, dry their tears, and help them to keep going. And things could have been much worse. I keep having dreadful thoughts of how badly she could have been hurt. We were extremely lucky that the worst she got was a lump on her head.

Every time my children are sick or hurt, I feel I should be able to fix it all. My daughter makes it clear to me that she doesn't need me to be "supermom" - she just needs to know that I'm there for her. With the maturity that her almost-five years has brought her, she kept telling me that she was okay, it didn't hurt, and the lump was getting smaller. Who was reassuring whom here? I was re-learning another truth of parenthood at that moment... we are not only here to teach our children, but our children are here to teach us. My daughter was reminding me that all she needs from me is my love, and the rest will work itself out.

I held her tight and hugged her, put ice on her forehead, gave her some medicine for the pain, and finally tucked her into bed last night. It was a long and restless night, and I did not feel better until she woke up this morning with a smile on her face, with nothing more than a scratch to remind us of her fall.

She's constantly teaching me lessons. When life happens, and we take a tumble, we will get back up again and keep going. We will help each other, because that's what families are for. Today, I found myself being overprotective of her, like she is more fragile now than she was yesterday. Part of me wishes I can keep her hidden under my protective wing forever, but I know I must let her live and experience life, while reassuring her that I'm right here when she needs me.

As I helped her zip up her jacket and put on her mittens and hat to go play with her brother today in our backyard, I had to remind her that somersaults are only to be done in gymnastics class, not on stairways. This got a chuckle out of her, as she replied, "But mom, it WAS a good somersault!"

She's always the optimist - the sunshine of our lives.
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