This evening, I got a quick lesson on parenting courtesy of a paper towel.
I was changing Isla’s diaper. As always, I talked to her and she cooed as if responding to me, and she kept smiling. I took my eyes off her for about 5 seconds to talk to my husband. When I looked back at her, I saw that the paper towel next to her was torn. Her hand was in a fist and already positioned on the side of her face, near the corner of her mouth.
I pried her hand open and saw a piece of the paper towel. She was still smiling at me. I held her jaw (gently), my thumb and forefinger on the right side and left side, respectively. And I said “Open your mouth”.
Immediately, her face contorted and she screamed and cried.
I realized that the tone of my voice had changed when I said those three words. It was an angry and a stern tone that I’ve never used on my three-month old baby, a tone that I grew up hearing whenever I did something wrong. I wasn’t angry at Isla; I was worried that she may have put a piece of the paper towel in her mouth (and would eventually swallow it). But the tone of my voice didn’t convey that emotion.
Thanks to that piece of paper towel, I realized that I have to be more mindful of my emotions, especially an emotion that is driven by an immediate reaction to a situation. Saying something is not enough. How I say it matters. It is difficult, but I need to control the tone of my voice especially in stressful/worrisome situations involving my child.
Hopefully, as I grow into my new role as mother, I’d be able to do that.
Here’s to the years ahead!
PS: No, she didn’t put the piece of the paper towel in her mouth.