It's been a rather eventful few days. Friday, I had a stomach bug (the less said the better). Friday night, Munch went pee-pee on the potty for the first time (more on that in another post).
This morning, we set up Munch's water table in the backyard, which was fun, and Hubs found a tick on his neck, which was not.
And this afternoon, I fell down the stairs, about a third of the way.
It was after Munch's nap, and he and I were going downstairs to get Cheetos, his current snack of choice. At the top of the staircase, he reached for my hand and I took it. We went down a couple steps, and he was calling for Daddy, who was down in the living room.
Somehow, about three steps down, my feet went out from under me. Our carpet is threadbare and can be slick, and I felt my heel miss. I went down hard on my left hip, next to the wall, and slid downward, grasping at the wall and trying to catch a step with my foot.
Somehow, I let go of Munch's hand. He sat down on the step. Below, unseen, Hubs was freaking out, I heard him. Though this all happened in seconds, I remember calling, knowing that my tone was matter of fact, calm: "It's me. It's me."
It's only me.
Not that if I'd been seriously injured it wouldn't have been a big deal to me or to Hubs or to our families. "It's me" was meant to calm his initial fears, thoughts that even in the three seconds during which I fell until I stopped myself by grabbing a picture on the wall and finally a foothold, I was thinking myself. Thank God it's not Munch.
If it would have been Munch, the next minutes would have been filled with hysterics and panic and frantic is he okay??? and phone calls and hands run over his head and body and maybe a trip to the ER, hopefully just to be safe, and a night of shaking heads and (hopefully) imagined what-if scenarios.
It's me stopped those thoughts.
But, to Munch the fact that it was me meant something entirely different. As soon as my momentum ceased, as I registered the pain in my hip and on my elbow where my arm scraped along the wall, I looked up at my little boy sitting still on the step. And he burst out crying.
Pushing down the blossoming pain in my leg and the shaking from did that seriously just happen? and the fear from it could have been so much worse, I stood and scooped up my crying boy and held him. Carefully, with Hubs below us, I finished the walk to the living room and sat on the couch, cradling Munch, whispering, Mommy's okay. Hubs assured him, Mommy's okay.
He calmed very quickly, but his Cheetos were forgotten. He sat on my lap, holding my hands and rubbing my hair the way he does when he's tired or insecure. I swallowed hard to show him my brave face, that Mommy was indeed okay.
After a bit, he started talking, jabbering, gesturing at the stairs and saying, "Mommy down. Mommy 'kay." Over and over he told us what had happened through his little eyes. Mommy down. But, he was taking our word for it, Mommy 'kay.
And that's what brought me to tears.
It was hard to define why this narrative from him cut me clear to the core. It showed his vulnerability. But it also showed mine. It showed how much I mean to Munch.
Of course, I know how important I am to him, can see it in the way he smiles at me or lays his head on my shoulder. But as my younger sister termed it, this was verbal confirmation of how much I mean to him.
Munch looks at me and sees someone who will protect him and who is in control of our little world. He sees me as the person who ensures he's holding a hand on the way down the stairs, trusts that I am the person who will spot him, keep him safe, remind him to be careful.
And I fell.
This was maybe the first time his little consciousness realized that his mommy is not invulnerable to the ways of the world, to the stairs we encounter. And I hated seeing the fear in his face and hearing the relief and the reminder to himself and to us: Mommy 'kay.
I want to tell him that Mommy will always be okay. That I won't ever, ever leave him alone or scared. And I will tell him these things--they are one of the fallacies we must tell our children in order for them and for us to sleep at night.
And it's not that I'm "feeling my mortality" after a silly slip on the stairs that left my leg aching but not broken or even bruised. It's that I don't want Munch to feel it. Not yet. I don't want him to be afraid of what can happen. Not yet. There are plenty of years ahead for that.
For now, I want him secure in the knowledge that all he need do is reach out and I will take his hand, no question, I will be there.