The clumsy side of parenting is another one of those fun little things the What to Expect books do not cover. There is no chapter covering the proximity of children. You know, how your toddler will follow you so close that if you stop abruptly, they will ricochet off your ass. Clumsy things. Accidental incidents. They create an immeasurable amount of mom guilt that doesn’t always go away — even when it’s long in the past, no one is hurt, and it’s funny. Things like…
1. Knocking my toddler over with my gigantic 9-month belly and not realizing she is near me because I hadn’t even seen my feet since week 32.
2. Cutting the corner too early and accidentally hitting my infant child’s head on the door frame. (It took most of the first year with my first child to realize that the space you have to enter and exit a doorway is much greater when you become a parent).
3. An accidental uppercut to the face when my hand slipped trying to unbutton a stubborn snap on her pajamas, popping her in the chin.
4. Cutting little nails too short — more than once, even with tiny nail clippers. But in my defense, clipping infant and toddler fingernails is like trying to catch a shrimp with greasy bare hands. It’s a total body activity where their bedroom becomes a wrestling ring.
5. Successfully catching spit-up in the burp rag by accidentally deflecting it back into my newborn’s face — who sat there with a white face, blinking and dripping.
6. Accidentally dropping a bottle of lotion on my son’s face. (Veteran parenting tip and common sense fact: Do not put a bottle of lotion on a shelf above your baby’s changing table.)
7. Forcing open the door from the garage to the laundry room because it wouldn’t budge, only to find my 18-month-old on his butt with a sad and hurt look on his face.
8. Accidentally squeezing baby food pouches so hard they shoot out into my son’s eye.
9. Chasing my kids around the house until they get so wound up and wild, they trip and fall face-first into the carpet for the rug burn of the century.
10. Accidentally pinching my daughter’s pudgy little sausage fingers in the high chair tray track.
11. Accidentally elbowing my daughter in the head, not realizing she was behind me when I was pulling clothes out of the dryer.
12. Not wiping off my daughter’s wet bottom and legs after her bath before she used the potty, causing her to slip right off the toilet seat like a seal, face-first onto the floor because her hands were wet too. Mom Fail.
13. Accidentally using homemade mosquito spray with lemon oil on a sunburned neck. (I had no idea her neck was sunburned until she started screaming, “It burns!” Panic ensued.)
14. Forgetting to apply sunscreen to the back of my child’s neck.
15. Hitting my child’s head on my car’s sideview mirror. When you’re in a hurry, always allow ample time and room when carrying a child by the mirrors. See No. 2.
16. Zipping up part of my daughter’s hair. It’s always the rogue strands that are attached to the most sensitive nerves in her head.
17. Accidentally scaring my daughter by walking into her room and suddenly talking, making her jump, scream, and wail like Michael Myers just dropped in to say hello.
18. Accidentally hitting my daughter in the face with my keys when she bumped into my hand while carrying an arm-load of groceries and her 30-pound infant brother.
19. Accidentally hitting them in the head with a cabinet corner. I’ve done this to all of them sadly.
20. Accidentally buckling my daughter’s fingers in the car seat buckle. It was a case of too many fingers in the same spot and not enough listening by both parties involved.
It happens. If it happens, and it will, you’ll feel bad. You’ll beat yourself up until someone does something else or you do something worse. But they don’t remember. At least none of mine seem to. Hopefully, it’s not because of some undetected head injury I accidentally inflicted on them by flinging them across the room with the shift off a butt cheek.