Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hard landing, softer heart

That was, in an instant, the sound of my stomach hitting my ankles and the sound of Andie, wrapped up in her swaddler, face down on the hardwood floor, a foot or two below the couch where I had placed her a moment ago.
Her desperate, shaken screams, complete with virgin tears, still make me sick as I write this Sunday, a day later.
In a moment's grace, a grace that I would like to think shadows thoughtful parents (but I know better), Andie escaped unharmed, for the most part, except for a bruise on her temple.
It's the third time in my life as a parent I've gotten away with what you could either call a mistake or carelessness, depending on your mood. I think it's probably between the two.
Jayden once rolled off the changing table and into his PacNPlay as I answered the phone , and another time he rolled all the way down a flight of carpeted stairs when I forgot to replace the baby gate. He was frightened but otherwise OK, and I now have three, instead of two, scars on my heart after Andie's tumble.
All three times, including Saturday, came at a time when I was overstressed from day-long cries, bottles, diapers and millions of other bits of things to do.
And every time, in my stress and a little burnt-out weariness and frustration, I forgot that I was taking care of fragile babies and not, say, my lawn out back that I would have to cut later.
Of course that doesn't mean I treated them harshly. Far from it. But it did mean my vigilance was less than what it should be. It was, in fact, downright poor, until...
That was, a second later, the sound of my brain hitting my skull, after Andie's pain seeped into me and I pounded my head with my hand. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
There, there, I said to her, and she looked at me, tears in her eyes, afraid and hurt and, I think, a little worry. She trusted me, and I let her down. Daddies do that sometimes. That's a lesson she had to learn at too early an age.
I don't know why I need painful reminders such as this one that they come first, and that they are worth more than any thing you may not get to that day, and that, most of all, you are lucky to have them because at any moment, a thunk can take them away from you.
I am now out of my funk of the last couple of weeks, and I'm sorry for all the bitching and whining. This blog is supposed to be cathartic for me, too, but after a while, I'm sure, it got a little old.
I had a great run today, a 6-mile, fast-paced jog, partly because I'm at peace for the moment.
Everything in my life is hard, I realize, and I prefer it that way. Writing, what I do for a living, is tough, and reporting, at times, is even harder. I climb mountains and run races and play a frustrating card game for fun. I spent whole summers chasing down the state's 54 14ers until I climbed them all. I keep this blog going and spend hours on home movies for my kids rather than settle for something simple with the video camera. I have perhaps the world's most energetic toddler. I also, as my wife will tell you, occasionally have a difficult personality.
And so yes, right now, my family life is hard, but one thunk, and it's not only just a part of my life, it is my life.
Karma came later as I played poker, with Andie asleep on my shoulder, snuggled next to ear. After some success early on in the cash game, and after a week of progress, I was dealt QQ, raised it up and got two calls.
A Q came on the flop, with no draws out there, so I checked, and got a couple bets. I bet the pot, about $12, on the turn, when an 8 came, and I got a call. On the river, another 8 came, and I was more than happy to call his all-in raise after my bet.
Until he showed 8,8.
Strangely enough, that didn't burn a hole in my heart, as it normally would.
It had taken enough hits that day.


Stacie said...

Ick. That sucks. (About the baby - the poke may as well be Greek to me, alas). If it is any consolation James has fallen off the bed to no harm. In fact, his father was more shaken up than he was.

Gydyon said...

Faith rolled off the hospital bed on the first day of her life -- I caught her just in time to break her fall and avoid any injury but what a terrible feeling.