The Worst Dad Ever
Hello! It is I, the Worst Dad Ever!
Let me tell you how I got that title.
Our youngest, Boy2.0, still sleeps in the bed with us - partially by choice but mostly because we only have two bedrooms - which means that our 2 year old is very used to being wedged between two bodies at night. When we're not in the bed with him, we use pillows and blankets as barriers.
For more than two years this system worked flawlessly, until I totally messed up last week. We all got into bed as per usual, but after a hour of tossing and turning I decided to go to the lounge and watch some TV...which I eventually fell asleep in front of.
And then I was woken up at 2am by someone crying. Now, we have two toddlers so crying in the middle of the night isn't unusual - but when I went to check it out, I found my wife holding my little boy while blood streamed down his face.
So here's the problem: I hadn't put the pillow in place, so he rolled off the bed and cut his forehead pretty badly on a phone charger.
Every drop of blood that came out of his cut, every tear he shed, every little sad whimper he let out screamed one thing: YOU ARE A TERRIBLE DAD.
I felt awful. We rushed him to the hospital, where he was a total trooper while the doctor sorted him out. Fortunately, the cut looked worse than it actually was, but for the next few days he still had some pain around the wound.
The guilt was real. How could I have messed up this badly? How could I let me child get hurt? Man, I did NOT deserve to be dad. I am the worst.
With a little bit of hindsight though, here's what I've realised: it's okay to feel guilty when you mess up as a parent, but you can't let that stop you from doing the parenting. In fact, it's when you mess you up that your kid needs you even more.
When we went back to the hospital, and my boy was scared and uncomfortable while the nurse and doctor checked and redressed the wound, I was able to calm him down a bit...and even got the little giggle here and there during the process. At that moment, he didn't need to see his dad overcome with guilt - he needed him to make him laugh while talking about ice-lollies.