I’ve never shot a handgun before. This year, my husband bought one with his Christmas money. He brought it home last night and was eager to go out and shoot some cans with it. We live outside of town, so he headed out to the backyard.
I’ve always loved a good adventure, so when he offered to teach me to shoot it, I agreed. I shot probably five times just to try it. When we returned to the house, both of us realized that might not have been the best idea.
See, I’m pregnant. Almost 24 weeks along. We just found out it’s a boy.
Now, I inwardly shake my head at parents who follow their kids across the playground like they’re made of porcelain. Just let them be kids. And kids sometimes skin their knees. You can’t always be there to protect them, so teach them how to handle life’s bumps and bruises. Easy, right?
Not so easy when it’s your kid. I went into protective mother mode (i.e. high alert) and did research online to find–unsurprisingly–mixed opinions about the safety of shooting a gun while pregnant. Of course, the general consensus was to avoid it as a precaution since we still don’t know about all of the effects it may have on the fetus. Generally, the risk can come from lead exposure and loud noise on developing ears.
Just like that, I became the overprotective mother on the playground. Basically, my whole system went haywire with worry. From five shots in a matter of mere minutes.
I washed the clothes we were wearing, including the gloves I had on. Wearing the gloves had been a lucky fluke. I put them on because it was cold, but they may have protected me from some of the lead exposure. At least that’s how I’m validating it to myself.
I even soaked in Epsom salts the next day. My midwife has cleared me for Epsom soaks as long as I don’t let the water get too hot. And as an extra precaution, I soak for 15 minutes or less using a timer to be sure. It may not have done anything but ease my mind, but in that moment, that’s what I needed.
I have vowed not to target practice again until after the baby comes.
Now, logically, I know this probably wasn’t the best decision, but it happened once and only for a short amount of time. Most of the research cites high levels of lead exposure and continuous loud noise to be the main culprits for safety or developmental issues. I seriously doubt this one time will be detrimental to the baby in the long run. It was stupid and I shouldn’t have been so hasty, but I can’t go back and change it now.
So I guess this is my first real dose of parenthood. All parents make mistakes when raising kids. And our critical society is usually quick to point it out and lay on the guilt trip. But nobody’s perfect.
I didn’t have to admit my mistake to anyone. And I know I could receive backlash about it. It was an early lesson. For one, I need to stop being so hard on myself. I believe good parents do the best they can with what they know and what they have in life. They aren’t perfect, but they are trying to do the best thing for their kids. Even if someone else doesn’t think it’s the best thing. There are too many opinions out there. You’ve just got to trust yourself and your instincts and do what you believe is right.
Secondly, it’s easy to judge when you’re not the one in the hot seat. We should all learn to stop being so critical of how someone else is living their life. And on the other end of that, we also must learn to work through and past the criticism we may receive for our decisions and our mistakes. Even if that means powering through it while covering our ears.
So here’s to starting out 2017 with a dose of forgiveness towards ourselves and giving other people permission to live their lives and make their own decisions without our judgment. After all, we’ve all got enough of our own lives to live without dictating someone else’s.
Have a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year everyone! Be good and gracious to yourselves!