When you feel like a failure at parenting

When a decision you make as a parent goes horribly wrong, you respond in a state of chaos.

For me, my response wasn’t automatic. For me, my response was panic. Then later, shock, displacement, and finally, grief.

I sit here on my bed, with my beautifully manicured hands, and take stock of the last 48 hours.

Being at the emergency department wondering if I was losing my little girl… watching my 12 month old baby choking on an apple. A piece of apple that I, the over-protective mother, had given her… watching her going red in the face from the build up pressure from a blocked airway… trying to wipe away her tears, and the sticky, white substance she’d vomited… holding her as she continued to yawn, even though she wasn’t tired… trying to make her more active when she was becoming lethargic… worrying endlessly whether this was as bad or worse than I could imagine… and then finally, seeing her recover as if there was never any apple there in the first place.

I’m traumatized from the incident last Monday. The outcome was good, very good, my little Snow White is back to normal. She’s giggling, laughing, wrestling with her brother.

But I take heed in that she almost wasn’t okay. An outcome I can’t even bring myself to think about.

It was by far the worst day of my life.

There was a moment when sitting on the hospital bed, when she had started to become lethargic and limp, I am afraid to admit this, but… I felt that in that precise moment, I was losing her.

A moment where I thought…



what have I done…



Then in an instant, when the apple had dislodged naturally, she was okay.

Just… like… that… her normal colouring returned, she perked up, she stopped yawning, she smiled. Oh, to see that smile.

But that moment of falling through a world where you have no control, I will never forget.

I said to my husband, “I feel like I’m grieving”, which makes no sense as everything turned out fine. But when you experience an event so traumatic, feelings rarely make sense.

When my husband later said I should get a massage to calm myself, I replied with, “I don’t ’t feel like I deserve it”, which again, doesn’t make any sense. But it was the guilt talking.

I am grieving and I feel sick with remorse for an almost-loss. For a scare. For an experience that I will never forget, but one that will keep me humble for my entire life.

My friend came to visit me today.

Seeing me in the state I was in, she said the following:

‘Lauren… You need to not make this experience negative. You need to make it positive. Your daughter is here because you knew how to respond. You knew what you needed to do to get her better again. You… you need a manicure!”

So, she took me for some self-care and we went out for a mani/pedi. And I felt good about it. A symbol of cleaning out all the grief and guilt from under my nails.

And now here I sit, with my perfectly manicured nails, writing, as a form of therapy. As a form of healing.

I feel better already, not because of the mani/pedi (although it did brighten my day) but because my friend was right. I needed to turn my perception of the event around. I needed to make it positive to stop the negative from manifesting.

My daughter is okay, and I will be okay again soon.

From the words of a lovely, supportive friend who sent me flowers on Monday afternoon –

“You are a fabulous Mum and your children are lucky to have you”.

Be kind to yourself Mammas, you are doing okay 🙂

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About Lauren Jackman (161 Articles)
Lauren Jackman is the author of Canberra Mummy. A self-confessed perfectionist, Lauren writes about the truth about pregnancy and parenting for perfectionist mummies. Lauren is a mum, wife, author, runner and a not a bad cook

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