What One Little Scar Has Taught Me


child with eye scar, mom guilt over child injurySometimes when I look at my son’s beautiful face, my gaze lingers for a moment on the scar beside his eye. That scar reminds me of one of my worst days as a parent. I can’t remember why I loaded my three children, aged 5, 3, and 18 months, into the van to go to Big Lots that day. I can only assume it was one of those meaningless excursions designed to keep everyone from going crazy after being stuck inside the house too long.

We wandered up and down the aisles, me in the lead with my three ducks following behind, when suddenly I heard a thud and a wail. I turned to see my baby boy sprawled on the floor gushing blood from his face. Those who have seen a head wound know they bleed like a mighty river.

Words can’t describe the panic I felt. I scooped him up and ran to a large central aisle yelling, “I need help!  I think I need an ambulance!  Please help me!” Someone handed me an entire roll of paper towels which I didn’t even pause to unwind as I shoved them up against his bleeding face. I have a blurry recollection of my other two children standing close by, a woman shopper with concern etched on her face, and the manager saying an ambulance was on the way. I was covered in blood. I was in shock.

By the time the firetruck arrived, I could pull the towels away and see that the bleeding had pretty much stopped. The fire fighters looked at my son and declared he would need stitches, but I could drive him to the hospital myself for that.

The manager came over and asked if I knew what had happened. I was so embarrassed because I hadn’t actually seen the accident. I knew that he fell somehow and hit his face on the edge of a metal shelf on his way down. Then the manager looked at my son’s feet and said, “Oh. He’s only wearing socks.” It felt like a blaming punch in the gut. No wonder he fell and sliced his head open.

I was shaking by the time I drove to the hospital. Thankfully, my husband met me there and took the little one inside for treatment while I drove the older two home. The words the manager spoke were haunting me as my mind raced from thought to thought: But the socks had rubber grips on the bottom…he always wears them…is this my fault?…why did I even go to the stupid store for no reason?…what if he had hit a fraction lower, would he be blind?

It’s been seven years since that accident, and it dawned on me a few weeks ago that I still feel guilty when I see that scar on my little boy’s face. In fact, I realized the scar was producing two very powerful emotions in me: SHAME that my child was injured on my watch. I didn’t even see what happened. I messed up somehow and he got hurt. And FEAR because even if it wasn’t all my fault, I can’t control everything. What if he gets hurt again?  What if it’s even worse next time?

It hasn’t been easy, but I decided that I can’t continue to live my life in shame and fear.  I have made an intentional effort to replace those feelings with a new message. The words I have chosen to focus on are GRATITUDE and RESILIENCY. I can choose how I see the scar on my son’s face.  Instead of letting it provoke shame and fear in me, I can allow it to remind me of the amazing capability of our bodies and minds to heal and move forward after bad things happen.

The scar can help me feel grateful for the ways we recover from injury and hardship, thankful for whatever level of health we are experiencing today, and mindful of the precious gift of life. It can remind me to be appreciative and invested in the present tense not knowing or worrying about what the future might bring or rehashing past mistakes.

It’s hard to believe that one little scar can have such a powerful message of darkness or light. It’s even harder to believe that I have the choice of which message to hear.

{Read More: Broken Bones: How to Manage a Toddler in a Cast}


  1. Perfectly beautiful, Becky. Thank you for sharing and thank you for the wonderful reminder that we all have a choice. Gratitude is so powerful!

  2. Love this! My son has a scar just by his eye. It took me a few minutes after reading your post to remember exactly how he got it. I too am grateful that is has healed.

  3. I fell upon this post as my son has the exact same scar near his eye from hitting his head on the edge of a table. It has been 3 years and when I see it, I still feel so guilty. I didn’t bring him to the hospital at the time as I didn’t think it was “that bad” and thought it would just heal; instead, however, it left an indented scar and I blame myself. Thank you for your insight … and a new way of looking at the tragedy.

  4. Was searching tonight how to deal with guilt. It’s been over 2 years since I left a pair of shoes my my bed, and our then 2.5 yo daughter tripped on them in the middle of the night while coming into our room. She hit her forehead on the edge of our bed. She now has a scar Right in the middle of her forehead just above her eye brow line.

    She’s 5 now, and lately, every time I look at her I can’t help but think about how my stupid lack of judgment, laziness, has left my beautiful daughter with a scar. She’ll always have it, and I worry that as she grows older she’ll resent me for it. Get made fun of, or feel embarrassed by it. I ruined her beautiful face. (She still has a beautiful face). But oh the guilt and shame I feel. I worry it will never go away, I will always see it on her face.

    I like the idea of finding a positive instead of a negative when I look at her. Though that seems so difficult right now.

    Your words though are encouraging. Thank you for sharing.


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