Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nail Clippers and the Joys of Failing

I would consider myself a pretty relaxed parent (besides the constant washing of my child's hands, and reading labels on toys to make sure the plastic is BPA free, and still not allowing food, formula, bottles, or pacifiers in her mouth) but there is one thing that sends me into a mild panic attack.

clipping Hope's fingernails.

And because she is growing at the rate of Great Dane puppy, nail clipping is not a once every 10 day excursion.

It's multiple times a week.

So, as I look at her nails getting longer and longer, I have this mental battle within me. "Maybe I should wait...but they're collecting dirt....maybe it's not such a big deal...but she'll scratch herself in the face with them." And finally I give in and get out the nail clippers.

The first time I clipped her nails, I had Matt hold her when I did it. Here's the deal. Babies are small. Thus, they have REALLY small fingernails. It's a really tedious job. It is sort of like that game Operation I used to play as a kid, except instead of getting a red blinking nose when you make the wrong move, you get a screaming baby.

Babies definitely have different cries. There's the "I'm frustrated" cry, and then there's "I'm tired" cry. But then there is the, "I am in pain" cry. And that cry is by far, THE most pitiful cry in the entire world. It makes you want to curl up in fetal position and just give up.

So, you can guess what happened the first time I clipped baby Hope's nails. I got through 9 of them safely. The last nail, the left thumb. She was sleeping like a baby (obviously) and I thought I had it, but it took me about 1.35 milliseconds to realize that something had gone TERRIBLY wrong.

Her eyes shot open and she let out this pitiful cry of agony. I hurt my own child. So now, of course, this sends me into hysterics. So here is poor Matt, trying to console not only Hope, but me as well. It was a mess.

Eventually after Matt telling me about 20 times that I was not the worst mother in the world and that Hope in fact did not hold an everlasting grudge against me, I was able to continue with life.

All too soon, nail clipping came again...and again...

Okay, at 16 weeks, it's a bit easier. I clip her nails when she is on the toilet (yes, my 4 month old uses the toilet; she's been doing it from around 6 weeks), and when I feel like I can only get a good angle on 4 of the 10 fingers, I just let it be. My obsessive compulsive self just has to take a backseat and let go of the fact that my child has 6 super long nails and 4 short nails.

And as with EVERY STINKIN THING in the world of parenting, there is a lesson learned. For me, the lesson is that I am not a perfect parent. Sometimes we mess up when we're clipping fingernails. Sometimes, when we're putting children into car seats, we accidentally bump their heads on the car door frame (yes this has happened too, and yes my child cried, and yes the car guard looked at me like I was the most irresponsible parent in the entire universe).

But it's not going to end there.

When she's 3 or 4 it will be a careless word towards her.

When she is 5, it will be a frustrated look towards her when all she really needs is patience.

When she's a teenager, it will be suspicion when what she needs is confidence and belief.

Being a Christian is so much more real to me now than it ever was before Hope was born. Before she was born, I perceived that I didn't really need God because 9 times out of 10, I created a pretty good life for myself. Sure, I had a relationship with Him. I liked Him. I had no qualms with Him. I believed He was real (it just made sense). And I needed Him in theory.

But I didn't really need Him.

In these early stages of the journey of parenthood, it's more than obvious that I'm not going to be receiving the perfect parent award. And so daily, I have to throw myself at the feet of God and beg Him for mercy and beg Him to work through me. I am utterly dependent on Him to raise my daughter.

I am SO thankful that I don't have this parenting thing down. And I pray that I never deceive myself into thinking that I do. I hope every child I have is so unique and different to the previous ones, so that I can never rely on my own understanding in the world of parenting.

Because in my true neediness for Christ, I've seen Him show up in ways I've never experienced before.


  1. what do i even say? i just plain flat out love you. haha. rachel, i am so glad for how God is teaching us both that we need him in such a real way. reading this made me smile, because we're both in such different places, and yet i'm excited, because God is growing us in such a similar heart... to depend on him. and that's a neat thing to know we'll always have to share no matter how different our lives look.
    i love you, and hope we can talk soon :)

  2. love this! i hated getting my nails clipped so when i was a little older i started biting them before mom could get to them. dont let this happen! im still biting them :/ but great writing and message. something to remember years from now when i have kids!