Musings: Mountain vs. Molehill

Today’s topic is: “Tell us about something that felt HUGE in the moment, but later turned out to be not such a big deal.”

This is a great time to tell you about my first #ParentingFail.

I can remember it like it was just 26 months ago (because it was New Year’s Eve 2012). My first baby was three weeks old and she and I hadn’t left the farmhouse since the day before her home-birth. “Why should we?” I thought. “It’s the dead of winter out there and it’s a toasty 80 degrees in the living room.” So we continued to hibernate together, spending countless hours eating, napping, and generally being in awe of our new surroundings.

I remember feeling exhausted but also a little excited that my husband and I had made it through the first three weeks without a significant parenting fail. After all, we were both new to parenting, and our little girl hadn’t come with a troubleshooting guide.

So, to really whoop it up for the new year, we decided it was time to officially trim her minuscule fingernails. (Up to that point, my husband had been biting them off, but that morning he said they seemed to be getting too thick to bite.)

So here’s what should have happened… My husband got in the car and drove into town to buy a pair of safety nail scissors. When he got home, we all sat happily together and trimmed her nails. The End.


Photo from

But here’s what we actually did… The three of us went to the bathroom, where I pulled out our adult-sized nail clippers.

WARNING: Parents, do NOT try to clip tiny nails with a full-sized nail clipper! I know it can be tempting, but just don’t!

I think I had successfully trimmed three nails, but on the fourth, she wiggled or I blinked or there was an earthquake or something, and I snipped the tiniest chunk of skin off the end of her finger. Of course, given the size of her finger, it was a considerable flesh wound and it immediately started to bleed.


Oh, the crying that ensued! And the baby was obviously upset too.

My husband put pressure on it to stop the (single drop of) blood while I frantically searched the cupboards trying to find an appropriately sized band-aid. Guess what! They don’t make band-aids to fit newborn fingertips. Just imagine trying to apply a 1″ bandage on the tip of your car key, while it’s screaming at you and giving you a look that clearly says “I trusted you but that’s all over now!”

Eventually, we all calmed down and a few days later, her finger had healed. The following week, we went to the store for a pair of safety nail scissors (which we are still using to trim their nails).

My baby, resting peacefully the day after the traumatic nail-clipping incident.


Of course, as they grow up and explore, other accidents happen. A few weeks ago, she burned her hand on the stovetop, and just yesterday, she fell head-first down the steep stairs of the old farmhouse. A little extra “wonk-a-bonk medicine” (Arnica cream) to lessen the bruising and she’s on her way again.

But I’ll never forget my first #ParentingFail!


Has something like this happened to you? If so, share the drama in the comments below.

~ Phoebe DeCook

(P.S. If you missed my introduction to these daily “Musings”, you can read from the beginning here.)

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One thought on “Musings: Mountain vs. Molehill

  1. Mary Eastvold says:

    It wasn’t the first time or the worst time I felt like I’d failed but this is the one we still talk about over 30 years later. My daughter was 8, I was taking a class twice a week at my work place. Since I worked part time, I was home with her after school so came back at 5 pm for the class. She would wait outside the lecture hall and my husband would pick her up and take her home with him, when my class was over, I’d head home too. This particular day, I went home as usual but no one was there. I figured they went out for supper, didn’t worry about it till he called later to ask if he should pick up supper on his way home. Turned out she had gone to the bathroom at the same time my class let out so I didn’t see her. She sat there for a long time till finally the security people started to wonder. I’m home in tears, my husband had the presence of mind to call security and yup, she was sitting in their office. She knew our home phone but no one was home. She still loves to tell the story about when we lost her.


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