I feel like last night I failed as a mother. I feel like I should have known better, but I didn’t even think there would be a problem.
Here’s the thing: Zoey is very sensitive to loud noises. She didn’t like the tractors on Aunt Kim’s farm and they had to cut their visit to the barn short. And when Greg tries to vacuum the living room, Zoey actually screams and holds onto me like the world is ending (we assumed it was because the dogs also bark and chase the vacuum to try to bite it, but now I’m thinking it’s just the noise). And just the other day, she didn’t like my hair dryer and started to get upset until I turned it off.
I think it’s something she might have gotten from me because I, too, get sort of anxious-feeling when there are super-loud noises going on–even sometimes when it’s just loud music or the din of a lot of people talking at once. I feel sort of uncomfortable and anxious and even though I can obviously control it, a little baby like Zoey doesn’t understand what’s going on and so, she freaks out.
Last night, I picked her up from my mom’s house after work like usual and I strapped her into her car seat so she could play with her toys on the way home. It was such a nice evening that I stood outside the mommy-mobile and chatted with my mom for a few minutes. I haven’t seen her in the past few days because she was out-of-town and we had a lot of catching up to do.
Everything was going swimmingly until my dad started mowing the lawn near us. Dad has one of those crazy pretty-much-a-tractor John Deere lawn mowers and he was just zipping around cutting grass. And I thought nothing about it.
I talked to Mom outside the car for at least five minutes.
I figured Zoey was fine because she was playing with her toys. Then I opened the door to the driver’s side and was met with little baby screams like whoa. And I knew. In that instant I realized what I hadn’t when I had been talking to Mom and Dad had been mowing the lawn near us and everything had seemed fine. I knew what I had forgotten and my heart sank.
I didn’t even bother getting in the front seat. I hopped right in the back next to Zoey in hopes of consoling her before we left. She looked at me, tears streaming down her face, and the look in her eyes shattered my heart into a million pieces. Where were you? Where were you?
She was scared and I wasn’t there because I was too busy chatting. I was standing right next to the front of the car, but because her baby seat still faces backwards, she couldn’t see me. I hadn’t been thinking and I felt awful. I calmed her down to the point that she was mumbling to me (no doubt about what happened), but as soon as I tried to leave the backseat to get in the front to drive, she started crying hard again.
But I had to drive. I wanted to take her home and cuddle with her and make her feel safe again.
So while she cried, I backed out of my parent’s driveway and started down the road.
Zoey was still upset and I ended up driving with one hand on the wheel and one hand on her arm. So basically I was stretched across the seat (yeah, I know, not entirely safe, but it was all I could do to comfort her). She laid her forehead against my arm and her cries slowly died down into mumblings again while she basically gave me the whatfor for not being there.
When we got home and I removed my hand from her arm, she started crying again. So, I jumped in the backseat again, pulled her from her car seat and held her close. And when Greg came out of the house to help me carry in all of our bags, he noticed right away that both Zoey and I were upset. I told him what had happened and how it was awful and oh my God, I felt so bad. He scooped Zoey up and cuddled with her until she settled down and was all smiles again.
Later, as she and I were sitting together in the living room, she heard our neighbor mowing his lawn and she got that uncertain look in her eye. She looked towards the window, but all she could see was the box fan and I could see the relief seep into her eyes like she thought the fan was making that noise and she smiled (she loves fans. We call all fans Mr. Fan). Mr. Fan was something that she knows was safe, so she was okay with it.
She checked on Mr. Fan a couple of times and then went back to playing while simultaneously forgetting all about the noise outside.
But I didn’t forget.
Last night when I finally climbed into bed and all the lights were turned off, my mind suddenly turned to what had happened in my parent’s driveway. The image of Zoey and her tear-streaked face popped into my head and I burst into tears. She needed me and I wasn’t there. I have to be more diligent and aware of everything. I have to remember things that scare her in the future. I have to be a better mom.
I guess I’m still learning too.