I’d been walking up to the slide with him for weeks. My toddler finally declared “I do it, Mama.” Against better judgment, I stood waiting a few steps down. Three feet up (I measured after the fact), he turned over his shoulder with a grin, saying “Look Mama… all by myself!”
With a misstep, he swung under the rail and landed on his back. I leaped to catch him, but he found the ground beneath him. I was horrified, scared, and ashamed.
Following the fall and calming the tears, I searched for signs of a concussion or broken bone. I prayed for God’s mercy for being a “terrible parent.” I frantically called the pediatrician (who was unimpressed with the dramatization of the event) and also called my husband, who assured me our little boy was fine. He was now chasing ducks on the grass.
In desperation, I scoured the internet, only piling on regret. Each blog, article, and discussion board oozed negativity and condescending thoughts on “neglecting” safety. One discussion response even stated: “Who lets their kid fall off the playground equipment?!”
It was an accident causing many sleepless nights and waves of emotion: inadequacy, irresponsibility, self-doubt. My mind flooded with the negative opinions of others instead of embracing the two sources that should hold significance: God and my tribe.
In a conversation with my mother, she said something I needed to hear: “These days the world leaves no room for confidence and even less room for God. As a new mother I made many mistakes, but prayed over everything and consulted a group of women who I trusted and knew would never judge me.”
I’d only rehashed the story to my mom, mother-in-law, and husband because I couldn't bear the same response I received in all my google searching. Plus, I assumed God agreed with my self-proclaimed title of “Worst Mother Ever.”
So, I prayed for forgiveness for making a mistake, questioning my aptitude as a mother, and searching for peace in all the wrong places. I prayed for courage to open up to the girlfriends He intentionally placed in my path. I needed to let go of my struggle and have my support system dust me off and help me move on.
I broke down in tears to a trusted group of friends as I recanted the day I watched my son fall, the encompassing shame, and my battle for peace. Was I hit with judgment, harsh words, and demeaning tones? Nope. We laughed as we shared stories of playground troubles. A dear friend explained her guilt from watching her son eat mulch after flying off the swing. Another mom reenacted a scene of her child see-sawing into the air.
Were we proud of our mistakes? Heavens no! But God brought healing to my soul that night. This tribe of women picked me up, wiped my tears, and offered hope. They gave me comfort, laughter, redemption, and a reminder we are never alone.
Accidents happen, but they never define our capabilities. They don't replace our kisses on skinned knees or late night snuggles with sick babies. Mistakes can't take away our love for our children, our prayers for their future, or their relationship with Christ.
Motherhood is not perfect and the perfect mother does not exist. We learn boundaries, build on areas of weakness, and constantly battle guilt. But there’s One who can give ultimate forgiveness and a tribe who can hug you tight, offer a dose of laughter, and love you anyway.
A friend loves at all times. (Proverbs 17:17)
God, thank You for giving me a tribe of women who offer encouragement and prayer for my well-being. I ask for Your help with revealing a tribe to anyone who feels alone. Thank You for forgiving our mistakes and for Your unfailing work of redemption in our journeys as mothers as well as in every other area of our lives. May we heed your love and support from those true friendships. In Your name, Amen
Author: Candace Koon