Tuesday, 21 October 2014

I Will Still Wash Her Feet

My daughter refuses to go barefoot. Not even for a minute. She wants to wear socks to bed. She begs to keep them on in the shower. She panics when we change them. Her socks stay on at gymnastics even though it hinders some activities. Cutting her nails is torture, if I even get a chance to see them. 

My sweet girl has been traumatized by a cut to the foot and now she wants to keep her feet safely covered.

I understand. I have struggled to rid the aftereffects of many terrorizing experiences. After a hard and unexpected smack to the jaw I hated having hands anywhere near my face for years and years. After totaling my car on a winter trip nine years ago I have remained unable to drive on a snowy highway. I even have a silly habit of storing my bread in the freezer because I'm afraid of accidentally eating moldy bread again. The moldy bread incident was 17 years ago. 

I know that life includes unfortunate events. My daughter is going to have to deal with some. It is part of learning. Hopefully, oh hopefully, not too many ordeals will be inflicted by me.

You see, I was the one who cut her foot. Yup. Me. I sliced her foot. 

Totally by accident. But still, she sees my hands near her feet and she can't even hear my words of reassurance through her worry. She asks over and over if I'm going to cut her foot. Her dad is astounded by her fear. It pains me to know I caused this stress. That her mother's loving touch induces panic if her socks come off. 

I caused her anxiety. And I inevitably will cause more. Not to this extent. But in general it is something I probably try too hard to avoid. I've barely punished her for doing wrong. I worry too much about my words. I even question my facial expressions when I respond. But everything in me wants her to enjoy life and not be traumatized by growing up. I so much want her to not be traumatized by me.

I would label my own childhood as very stressful. It had too many objectionable twists. It made me an insecure, fearful, untrusting, judgemental, indecisive, procrastinating worrier. And most certainly, the majority of incidents or situations were not planned or intentional or preferable in the eyes of my caregivers. Some repercussions were likely not even realized.

Like most parents, I try to avoid duplicating the scenarios that I deemed frustrating in my upbringing.

But I'm starting to see that it won't guarantee an ideal path. There will be regrets, no matter what. There will be mistakes, no matter what. And most importantly, there will be times where my actions won't be perceived as I intended.

Of course, the blade in my hand wasn't supposed to cut her skin. I went to scrape a rough spot on her other foot and she panicked and kicked the blade. And instantly saw blood dripping from her flesh.  

Mistakes. Misunderstandings. Set backs. That's life. There is no such thing as doing it right. There is no such thing as the perfect upbringing. It is about trying. It is about learning as you go. Developing trust. Refocusing when life gets off track. And re-building that trust when something unfortunate happens to break it. 

I'm praying it won't be years of having an issue. Hopefully it will only be short lived. Something I will mention to her later and she won't at all recall. But, if not, life will go on. Add it to the things she will need to work on.

I can't undo mistakes. I can't let worry block moving forward. 

I'm still going to wash her feet. Hopefully, not with too much anxiety. 

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