No, really, I can.
For instance, I never used to believe parents when they said they "just stepped away for a minute" when their kid got hurt. I figured it was just something they were saying to make themselves feel better, and not look like a horrible parents to other people. I not only thought they were horrible parents, but liars too.
I probably owe them all an apology now.
Friday night Meg fell out of the bathroom sink and onto the floor, giving her head a pretty good smack. At the time of her fall I was standing three feet away, and had turned my back on her for a total of six seconds. How do I know it was exactly six seconds? Because I walked it seven times after we were finally able to put her to sleep to see just how negligent a parent I was. The answer was six seconds worth.
I will never hear a worse sound in my life than the sound of Meg's head hitting that floor. Or at least I hope I never hear anything worse, because I don't think I could take it. That's how bad this sound was. The look on her face was also pretty bad. She didn't cry right away, and the look was just one of total shock and pain.
Ryan and I were both on her instantly like a rash, both trying to do the best we could to stay calm, and make sure she was okay. Ryan did a much better job of it than I did. He was holding her and rubbing her head, making her look back and forth to assess her pupils while I ran to the kitchen to get ice, frantically looked up the symptoms of a concussion on the Internet, and tried to call our friend Andrew to get medical advice (don't worry, he's a doctor). Oh, and the whole time I was crying.
Andrew finally (after like 45 seconds) called back and told us that if Meg hadn't lost consciousness, didn't seem to be nauseous, was acting normal, and had pupils of the same size, she was likely okay. He said to ice her head, keep her awake for an hour to make sure she wouldn't start throwing up or passing out, and let her sleep with us so we could monitor her breathing.
That's what we did. We watched two "Yo Gabba Gabba" episodes while holding frozen peas to Meg's head. Then she and Ryan fell asleep while I listened to her breathing and pictured all the horrible things that could have happened because of my bad parenting.
I finally started to forgive myself about 6 Saturday evening, after watching Meg eat three meals without throwing up, quizzing her relentlessly on everything she has ever learned to make sure there was no brain damage, and sitting next to her bed through two naps.
Well, at least most of me is forgiving myself. The judgmental part is still pretty pissed.
I really hate that part sometimes.