Blood And Tears

October 7, 2008

Ordinarily, I faint at the sight of blood. Or I freak out. Or both. You would think that I would be all the more the likely to do both when the blood that I’m looking at has drenched the front of my little girl’s shirt and puddled in the palms of her wee outstretched hands. Thankfully, on this occasion, I keep my wits about me. I manage to stay upright and conscious as my baby girl, not quite three years old, throws her bloodied, sobbing self into my arms and dribbles blood-streaked mucous down my back.


I put her down and she opens her mouth to show me. Blood dribbles down her front, a thick red stream of slobber that drenches her shirt. Her tears streak down her face and wash little trails through the red stain on her chin. I wobble, a little, and swallow the cry of alarm that is burbling up in my throat.


I drop to my knees in front of her. If I’m going to pass out I might as well be close to the floor, and in any case, I need to check to see whether she’s knocked all her teeth out. I take a deep breath to steady myself. Open your mouth, baby, I say. I need to see inside your mouth. I need to see your teeth.

She opens her mouth. Blood dribbles out over her bottom lip and splashes over her chin before dropping in midair, suspended in a thick trail of drool. I stretch out my sleeve and catch the gob, and then use the sleeve of the other arm to dab at her bloodied mouth. This is how I know that I am a parent: I do not faint, and I do not recoil at having my clothes soaked in blood and spit. I pause for a moment to marvel at that fact – I’ve seen this girl bloodied before, many a time, but not nearly so dramatically, and I wouldn’t have thought that I could handle it – and then scoop her bloodied little body into my arms and carry her to the bathroom.

I soak a washcloth and dab the blood from her mouth.

ARE *sob* ALL *sob* MY TOOFS *sob* THERE?

Yes, sweetie. They’re all there. The washcloth turns red in my hands. I rinse it under the tap and squeeze it out. I dab her mouth again, and rinse again; dab, rinse; dab, rinse. The cloth gets pinker, the water runs clearer. I can see that she’s cut her lip. This is how I know that I’m parent: her blood doesn’t rattle me, now that I know she’s safe, but this tiny wound cuts me to the quick. My heart seizes at this little injury, this tiny marker of her vulnerability. I kiss the tip of my index finger and gently press it to her lip. We’ll make it feel better, sweetie, I say. We’ll make it better. I pause and press her hand to my heart. You scared Mommy.

I *sob* BETTER NOW *sob* MOMMY… I *snorflesob* *mumble* AGAIN, MOMMY.

What’s that, sweetie?


How I know that I’m her parent: I let her. I clasp her little hand and, together in our blood-stained shirts, we march back into the playroom and she climbs back onto the sofa and then – still grasping my hand – flings herself into the air. And I catch her. And then we clutch each other in a mess of blood and tears and snot and I whisper into her hair, don’t do that again when I’m not right beside you, okay? I don’t like it when you get hurt.

How I know that she’s my daughter: she puts her little hand against my heart. And I don’t like it when YOU get hurt, Mommy. She presses gently. I be careful. Then she pulls her hand out of mine and climbs back onto the couch, and – grinning a mad, blood-streaked smile – jumps again.

In this moment, in this bloody, messy, painful moment, I love being a parent. Blood and tears and pain and all, I love it.

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    marina October 8, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I love being a mom so much! I have to say, during the day when you get all pissed off at life or other stupidities, all i have to do is close my eyes and see my little boy doing what he does best, being silly and cute, and an instant smile comes on my face. then for some reason all the other stuff doesn’t matter so much any more!

    LAVANDULA October 9, 2008 at 11:11 am

    wonderbaby is so sweet what a little daredevil she is…

    Haley-O October 9, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Those lips bleed like CRAZY when they get the slightest nick! I know!!!

    Karen MEG October 10, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Bloody lips are the worst! I had a really bad accident with my teeth and lips and a kid and I shudder to think of that ever happening to either of mine …oof!

    What a brave little thing… (and mommy too, BTW ;)

    sylvia October 10, 2008 at 11:08 am

    What a wonderful wonderful daughter you have and what a great mother SHE has. Love this.

    Tabitha (From Single to Married) October 10, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    wow – what a beautiful story! I just found your blog and am enjoying reading your stories, especially since we will be trying to start our own family soon. It’s good to read about what it’s really like, the ups and the downs!

    Mommer October 15, 2008 at 12:05 am

    You, dear, are amazing. I can’t wait to buy the book. (And there will be one, I’m sure of it.)

    Kate October 15, 2008 at 12:30 am

    oh. i’m crying. that was perfect. my little one fell the other day and bit open her upper lip in two perfect half-circles. it was horrible for both of us. you really hit the nail on the head right here. thank you.

    kittenpie October 19, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Oh, mouth wounds bleed TERRIBLY. I remember Pumpkinpie’s fall that was also a small cut, but I thought she might have put her teeth right through her lip, the way it was gushing.

    (And for me, it was the moment that I reached out to catch vomit, handful after handful, that made me realize the same thing – I must be a mother now, because I sure wouldn’t have been able to do THIS before! And certainly not without vomiting myslef.)

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