Sometimes, Motherhood Bites
By Rosalia Davi
I had what I consider to be my first major parenthood fail last month. I was over at my sister’s house, and we had just sat down to a delicious dinner when her son starting crying—the kind of cry that brings four adults to their feet in seconds and racing toward the scene. When we reached her son, we quickly realized the source of my nephew’s pain—my son. For God knows why or for how long, my child was biting his cousin. My sister and I quickly untangled the two and retreated to our corners to mother how we knew best, one to console and the other to punish.
Once the confusion subsided, an overwhelming mix of emotions set in. I felt terrible that my nephew was in pain, and I felt shock, anger and disappointment toward my son. And of course, the guilt drove my thoughts immediately to self blame…
- My son bites and it’s my fault because I’m at work and I don’t spend enough time with him.
- My son bites because he doesn’t have a sibling.
- My son bites because he doesn’t speak yet, maybe daycare is better for his development?
And the list goes on.
Getting through an average, uneventful day as a parent is exhausting enough (both mentally and physically). But, experiencing an episode in which your parenting style, childcare choice, and career all come into question is downright debilitating. I was fortunate to experience this stressful situation with a family member who dealt with it as best as one could hope. However, this connection also made it harder to forget and move on.
“I couldn’t help but worry that my son
would go through childhood with
a scarlet “B” on his chest (for biter).”
What helped me rebound relatively quickly from my spiral into the depths of parenthood demise was hearing from others. I knew what my son did wasn’t right, but I also knew he wasn’t the only baby to bite. One of the first things I did (after crying, yelling at my child, apologizing profusely to my sister, and crying some more) was reach out to the Mom-mentum Online Community I recently joined. Knowing that I could share a harrowing experience with people who had most likely been there-done that was incredibly comforting. In that moment I wasn’t necessarily looking for advice—I already had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do to address the issue—I just needed a non-judgmental ear. Once I heard back from a few moms who had gone through similar experiences, it made me feel less anxious about the fate of my son, less critical of myself, and more confident in our ability to learn and grow from this.
Though I hope to not have to learn this particular lesson more than once, I’m grateful for the larger lesson it taught me: My son isn’t perfect and neither am I.
We’re both going to get it wrong occasionally, but that doesn’t have to mean we’re bad people. As long as we have a supportive community of family and friends (online or in person), to lean on when things don’t go as planned, we’ll be able to get through the tough times and be stronger for it.
Leave a Comment: Have you ever been through the experience of your child biting another? How did you handle the experience and the subsequent emotions of stress and guilt? What did you learn and who did you turn to for emotional support?
Rosalia Davi is a first time mom who also works at a state university in New York. She is learning how to maximize peace of mind and productivity, and can be seen pondering the elusive work/life balance while exploring her home base of Long Island, NY. Rosalia has a dual Masters degree in Gender and Cultural Studies and Communications Management, and incorporates her passion for gender and all diversity throughout her career and personal life. She loves spending time with her family, reading, and building community both inside and outside of the workplace.