Father Forgets

“Father Forgets”, the Famous W. Livingston Larned poem featured in the classic Dale Carnegie book: How to Win Friends and Influence People,

I was listening to this audiobook during dinner and this poem struck a chord with me.  I put myself into this story.  How often am I correcting my children and forgetting to praise, encourage, lift up their young and beautiful souls.  This poem may have just changed my parenting as I plan to revisit it every so often.  It’s also true of anyone we speak to.  The world has enough critics.  We need more encouragers!

Below are the words of the beautiful poem “Father Forgets”:

Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply,

“Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive‐and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped. You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither.

And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs. Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me?

The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding‐this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy‐a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

-W. Livingston Larned

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Always Remember to BREATHE


It was a morning like many others.  Gavin woke up calling for me and Isla woke a little while later crying in her crib.  I got the kids diapers/pull ups changed, prepped breakfast for us all, dealt with a few tantrums over the wrong fork or the toy not doing what it’s supposed to.  Kids finished eating breakfast and started fighting over toys.  I looked around at the piles of laundry and although I was excited the dryer was fixed after a week without, we were quite backed up with dirty clothes.  I started picking up the house and decided to get the laundry started.  It was about 9 am and if I started now, it could be done by the time Derrick got home from work.  I opened the gate and let Gavin go upstairs.  He’s 3 and really good on the stairs.  I carried Isla up.  We have a steep hardwood staircase and she has only gone up and down the basement rugged stairs with help. She JUST turned 1 and she is so active and fast.  She walked at 8 months!  Now she climbs, and runs.  She moves furniture to get on things like the couch and it scares the living sh– out of me on a daily basis!  I had been teaching her to go down on her bottom so she would be safe.  I am the type who worries about everything and I am constantly picking up toys and moving furniture around to avoid bumps and bruises (for me too!). We have those cushions on all of the corners of our furniture.  Our babies are ACTIVE and super adventurous.  I don’t know where they get their energy!

I got them both upstairs into their bedroom.  We have a small cape, so at the top of the stairs, the bathroom is in front and there is a bedroom to the left (the kids’ room) and the right (our room). I shut the gate and they walked into their room where I read a few books to them.  They LOVE books.  They have probably over 500 books in their room and we have read ALL of them.  We get books from Gavin’s school and from the library  so we have new ones every week.  They both sat down on the floor flipping through books.  I went into my room and threw a ton of laundry down the stairs.  I went into the bathroom and got another pile and threw them down.  Then, I went back into the room with the kids and took the sheets off Gavin’s bed and threw those down.  By this time, the kids were walking around the room, playing with the blocks and Gavin’s train table. I noticed the floor had some smudges and it looks like milk had spilled on the hardwood where the rug didn’t cover.  Gross!   Everything was calm so I went to the bathroom and got some warm water and soap on a towel. Gavin was pushing a car and Isla was flipping through a board book.  I bent over and started scrubbing the floor.  That lasted about 45 seconds.  It was quiet all of a sudden.  I looked up.

What I heard next- a loud crash, sent pounding hammers to my head and my whole body felt like it was being crushed.  I jumped up with adrenaline and leapt the 2 feet between me and the bedroom door and 1 more to the top of the steps.  The gate was open and Isla began screaming at the bottom.  I FLEW down the stairs and grabbed her up.  HOW DID I LET THIS HAPPEN???

I took this photo after the fire fighters left to remember the clothes she fell on. It gives me a little peace to know that there was some padding at the bottom.

She was crying and I looked her over and there was no blood and I just looked at her little limbs wondering if they were broken.   HOW???   She had fallen 16 steep stairs!!!  She fell onto the piles of clothes which spread from about stair 12-16.  Thank god for the broken dryer.  Gavin was standing there.  He had opened the gate and Isla followed him.  I didn’t even see them walk by me when I was scrubbing.  I began screaming hysterically and I COULD NOT catch my breath. I felt like the worst mother in the world.  How could I not keep my babies out of harm’s way?  This is my number 1 job!   I called 9-1-1 from my cell and they continuously told me to calm down.  I couldn’t breathe and just kept wheezing. I could only get out one word for each breath and they couldn’t understand me.  OH MY GOD.  I needed to speak so the ambulance can come and check her out.  I could feel my heart in my ears and my throat was closing as my head was spinning.  Is this really happening???  I was pacing while she screamed and Gavin followed me around.  I felt light headed like I would pass out.  I kept trying to breathe but I couldn’t find the air.   Suddenly, I heard the woman connecting me to a local fire dept. and I heard them “We can’t help your baby if we can’t hear you.”  My mind started clearing up. “My baby fell down the stairs!”  They asked me her age.  They told me to stay calm. They asked if she was breathing, if she was responsive, if she was crying.  Yes, yes, and yes.  My baby was OKAY.  She was actually okay and when I looked at her in my arms and really looked at her, she stopped crying and smiled.  My eyes were flooded with tears.  She needed her mama.  She needed me to be calm and be there for her.  She forgave me.  Now, could I only forgive myself?

The fire department came and they were amazing.  Three of them had little ones under 3 years old and they told me it was okay and they checked her out from head to toe.  She had a small red mark on her forehead but she was fine.  She was walking around, dancing and laughing.  She loved the attention.  I listened to their stories with more tears flowing and many of them were happy tears knowing she was okay.  They told me to take her to the pediatrician to make sure everything was okay and I did later that day.  I cried again when I called my husband and when I called my mom and when I was at the doctor.  I cried that night and the next day and had no voice from screaming that day.  The important thing was that she was okay.  She didn’t even have a bruise the next day and for that, I am forever grateful.

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Getting checked out later that day. She just kept going for the drawers and the door!

I learned many lessons that day and one is that, yes, I need to shut the door when we are upstairs, and that yes, we may need a stronger gate, but also that mistakes can happen and when events like this shake us to the core they sometimes make us truly aware of the indescribable support that is present every single day in our lives. I got so many messages from friends and family that truly helped and I cannot thank you all enough for that.

I never knew that babies are that resilient and that adults actually end up with more injuries on stair falls because we are heavier.  This was only last week so I am still a little shaky about it, but I slowly forgiving myself and know that being easy on myself is important for my children as well.  I want to teach them that we do make mistakes and it’s important to learn from those, forgive ourselves and move on.

We went to the fire station the next days to give them treats and they let Gavin in the fire truck!



Oh and my husband agreed to hiring someone to help keep up with the cleaning at least in these early years while I have my business and our babies are gymnasts!

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