I blame the tick.
Because if it weren’t for the tick I found embedded in the my daughter’s shoulder during her bath last week, I never would have grabbed the bottle of rubbing alcohol, uncapped it and put it on the side of the tub, so that I could swab the bite in the rubbing alcohol after pulling the tick from her skin.
I also blame sleep deprivation.
Because with both a cold and the eruption of his back teeth all at the same time, Bruiser was up and down all night long. So was I.
Lastly, I blame packing.
Because half-dead from lack of sleep, I spent last Tuesday frantically packing to leave the next day for my high school reunion. Ordinarily, Bruiser stays in his bouncer when he’s upstairs in our bathroom; there’s no way of childproofing the room enough for the boy who gets into everything. But on Tuesday, he was shouting and I was packing and with only my cosmetics bag left to go, I took him out of the bouncer and let him walk around for a minute or two on the bathroom floor. After all, I was standing right in front of the wall-sized mirror over our sinks, and could watch every move he made.
And that’s why I saw him pick up the open bottle of rubbing alcohol and get ready to swig it.
I turned and lunged for him, catching him up at the exact moment the bottle was turned to go into his mouth. It spilled, splashing onto his face and down his shirt. I held him like a football, his mouth facing the floor as he wailed, and ran to the sink, washing his mouth out with handfuls of water. He hadn’t drunk any of the rubbing alcohol, but had it taken me one second longer to get to him, he would have. And it could have been disastrous.
I didn’t write about this experience immediately afterward because to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t. I spent the next few days wrapped in a fog of self-loathing. I was a horrible, horrible, horrible mother. What kind of mother leaves an open bottle of rubbing alcohol out on the tub, anyway? Rubbing alcohol, for God’s sake! I have never felt like such a worthless piece of shit as I did in the day or two following “the incident.” All I could think about was how quickly my precious, beautiful son could have been in mortal danger, all because of my addled, sleep-deprived, tick-fearing, stupid fucking mom brain. I sucked. I sucked! I didn’t deserve to have children. I needed therapy.
Because in the end, I blamed myself. I blame myself. I blame myself.
I blame the tick.