Since retuning from the MCBTC in April, I've felt quite confident in my role as mother. While, I tend to get overwhelmed by the task of taking care of a toddler, a husband, a house, and myself from time to time (OK, daily), I almost always chalk it up to being a new mom and the recurrence of my perfectionist addiction, than my limited eyesight. Although I like to think that my daughter is just as safe in my presence as she would be in that of any other loving and caring adult, today I was reminded that may not always be the case.
This afternoon I was attempting to turn our third bedroom/study into a usable space by tackling the enormous pile of boxes and random objects that currently reside there. Emeline had decided to help in the way that only a toddler can - by removing objects from piles and redistributing them at random. Occasionally, she'd pause in her assistance to examine the contents that I'd uncover in the chaos. One of the items that she found fascinating was a potted cactus. The cactus we have is one of those pesky ones with the tiny, not so sharp, but very prickly, nettles that attach themselves to numerous parts of your skin if you so much as graze it. Noticing her fascination I placed the cactus out of her reach (or so I assumed) on the desk until I could find a more suitable place for it.
While unraveling a mess of tangled cords I was startled by a shriek. Immediately I discarded the wires and leaped to Emy's side. Being the tough little girl she is, she was more startled and upset than hurt and calmed down as soon as I came to her aid. Upon examination of her palms and fingers I didn't see anything poking out but brushed them off to be sure. The moment I touched her fingers on her right hand they were yanked away and she began screaming. I could feel several spots on that hand with nettles that needed removing. I couldn't see them, and she was squirming so much that I couldn't grasp them with my fingers to remove them. Realizing that tweezers would be useless without being able to precisely see where to grasp, I began to panic.
My first thought was to call my mother, my husband, or the paramedics. Even though I was feeling panicky I knew that this situation really didn't merit a call for help - even to my mom, whom I am sure knows of an easy way to remove cacti from teeny fingers. Discarding the idea of calling 911, I regained some composure and decided I should be able to handle this. It's not like you need a medical degree to remove nettles. So I scooped up Emy, sat her in my lap with one arm around her body to keep her still and one hand holding her injured fingers to my mouth, and I pulled those tiny little suckers out with my teeth, getting a few of them stuck in my lip as I did so. She hollered and wriggled and I cried right along with her but after running her hands under cold water I was fairly certain her hands were cacti free.
Alright, I know Emeline wasn't in grave danger. No blood, broken bones, or anything of that nature had occurred. She didn't even knock over the damn plant. She simply grabbed a cactus and most likely if I didn't do anything at all they would have worked their own way out. Not a true crisis by any normal standards. But for those five minutes it warranted crisis status. My child was hurt, there was an easy solution, and I couldn't help her because I couldn't see well enough to remove the source of the pain. This feeling of helplessness is terrifying.
Additionally, the whole situation was my fault. I was too blame for her injury. Not only because I'm her mom and should have been watching her more closely. As irrational as my self-induced guilt and panic might be I do realize that it's impossible to watch a child every single second and accidents can and do happen all the time. No, the reason I am to blame is because I thought I removed the source of danger by placing the cactus out out of reach. In actuality where I placed it was quite close to the edge of the desk. Easy grasping reach for the long limbs of my daughter. My inadequate depth perception and spatial relations make my low-vision the culprit this time.
Inability that equates to inadequacy is a tricky feeling to overcome. Especially, when there is no way to control or improve my inability. I am relieved that the incident that occurred this afternoon was not serious, and will eventually forgive myself because it wasn't. However, I am left feeling terrified about what unpredictable event will occur in the future that could have been prevented if only my eyes were the way they used to be.