I decided my blog should have a menstrual cycle and once a month I will write something a little more serious, maybe emotional and possibly full of irrational anger. I’ll keep you guessing which mood I’m in like some good old-fashioned PMS.
When you become a parent (especially the first time around) every mistake you make will resonate deeply into your exhausted and overworked mind. It’s your quest to be the best parents you can be and when you realize you are not perfect, it’s tough to swallow. We are human, which translates to imperfect, and therefore always a work in progress. If you are lucky like myself thus far, your mistakes won’t be big ones and you can move on and learn something from them.
Parenting doesn’t come with a handbook. It’s a skill that we develop through our experiences starting from our childhood all the way through our adult life. Our unique experiences design and mold our own individual parenting style, and almost every decision we make is based on observing the positive or negative outcome of a previously similar situation. Some things are learned, some are instinctual, and everything at some point was simply trial and error.
Every now and then you see a news story about a mom or dad who did something you thought was outrageous. Something that probably happened out of the pure state of physical and mental exhaustion they were in during the morning or afternoon shuffle. Something like forgetting to pick up a child from daycare. You always wonder… how could a parent ever do something like that? What is wrong with these people? And most importantly, I would never.
Life has us moving so quickly. I didn’t forget my kid at daycare, but have you ever driven somewhere and your mind has you so preoccupied with your to-do list that you completely miss your highway exit? It’s very similar, so I understand how it can happen.
I had my own scare this week and I’m sharing it so that you might remember and not make the same mistake.
You don’t think about the potential risk in a situation when it is part of a daily routine. The flaw in being a tired mom with a routine is that sometimes you function on auto-pilot and don’t actually put a whole lot of thought into what it is you are doing.
Mondays are always the worst. You’ve had a break for two days and now it’s back to the grind. At our usual morning daycare drop off my daughter decided to test out a new skill. Using her freakishly long big toe she discovered she could reach the button on the car door and press it. By doing so, she is activating the central locking system which results in her locking the entire car from the back seat.
The problem? She decided to test this new skill when I stepped out of the car. I was rushing so I wouldn’t be late for work. In the time it took me to get out, shut the door and walk around to her door it was locked. My stupid mistake? I left my keys in the ignition. Never …ever…leave your keys in your car if you are not sitting in it. Not even just for a minute.
So there I was yelling frantically at her to push the button to unlock the car. She’s two, so of course she doesn’t listen. In today’s world there is always someone nearby with a phone (thank god). She was stuck in my car for nearly half an hour before one of the emergency responders was able to break in. That half hour seemed like an eternity.
I couldn’t help but give myself an anxiety attack over the possibility of that happening again, or what if it happened somewhere with no help close by? My phone was in the car, what would I have done? What if I was too weak to break a window? I’d have to leave her alone to find help or wait with her until help found us on a hot summer day? Oh god I don’t even want to think about it.
My daughter didn’t understand why I wasn’t opening the door, and she certainly was not able to relate the cause and effect of what pressing that button had done. She was reaching for me, tears rolling down her cheek saying “I want to hold you! I want to hold you!”. I just wanted to hold her too.
She was fine, she got out and she even gave her signature scowl to the police officer who helped.
Days that start out like this really test your limits as a parent and trying to regain focus before I arrived at work was all too familiar because it’s not uncommon for me to leave a daycare drop off with the weight of the world on my shoulders.
I was so embarrassed, and felt so stupid and inexperienced as a parent in that moment. How could I be so stupid to not take those keys out? I was reassured by every mom in the parking lot that they’ve been there and yes sometimes more than once. It became a much-needed confessional therapy session in my moment of despair and I thank those women for understanding and supporting me in that moment instead of giving me a know-it-all lecture. It really says a lot when moms can support other moms without judging.