Yesterday an old college friend of mine left a comment in response to yesterday’s post, explaining how she had lost track of her son at a soccer game.
Now she’s consumed with tremendous guilt.
I just feel like the worst parent ever, she said.
All I can say is,
And you know why?
Because I’ve been there.
I think we all have.
Sometimes people don’t talk about those experiences for fear of being judged.
For fear of some asshole chiming in with an
I would never let that happen to my child.
So let me make you feel a little bit better.
A couple years ago, Number 3 and 4 were outside playing in the snow.
It was January 2011, when we were blasted with a couple back-to-back blizzards.
I dug out a seriously kick-ass luge track in the back yard. By hand. By myself.
It took me two days.
I made a pretty awesome starting ramp.
That thing kept the kids occupied for weeks.
Now, we live on a very busy road.
We are also on the corner of a side street and that main road.
People pull out of that side road right in front of oncoming traffic all the time.
There are always people honking because they’ve been cut off by someone pulling out of that road without looking carefully.
In addition to that, everyone knows where we live.
And they like to honk when they drive by.
So between the careless drivers pulling out in front of people and all our friends giving a beep as they drive by,
there’s a lot of honking going on around here.
So I’ve become sort of immune to it.
Well I had become immune to it.
Until January 2011, when I was inside, upstairs in the office, talking to my mother on the phone, while Number 3 and 4 were outside playing in the snow.
I had told them to stay outside in the back yard.
On the track.
I got distracted with my mom on the phone.
I was talking.
And then I heard a honk.
I didn’t think anything of it.
A few seconds later,
Still, it didn’t really register.
Then someone really just started laying on the horn.
I finally went downstairs to see what was going on.
I opened the front door.
I was still holding the phone up to my ear.
A woman was pulled over in front of my house, her entire upper body hanging out of the passenger door window.
She was screaming at me.
“YOUR KIDS WERE IN THE STREET!
WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU???”
By this time, Number 3 and 4, who knew they were in some seriously deep shit, were already back in the back yard.
The woman drove away, her head shaking.
I ran to the back yard, my whole body shaking.
I dragged Number 3 and 4 into the house.
They fessed up.
Number 3 had dared Number 4 to run across the road.
And she did it.
I didn’t know what to do.
I ripped their boots, and snow pants off of them and sent them upstairs.
I screamed at them.
I hugged them.
I started bawling.
I think that scared the crap out of them more than any seriously pissed mother in her minivan or oncoming car did.
I was a mess.
The what ifs were coming fast and furious.
Just like the cars out on the road in front of our house.
Beating myself up wasn’t going to change anything.
Neither was conjuring up every horrific scenario possible in my head.
I learned a lesson.
So did the kids.
I like to think that it happened for a reason.
It was a warning sign.
I still wonder how often that woman drives by this house, saying to herself, There’s the house where the World’s Shittiest Mom lives.
It’s hard to shake that guilt.
I learned a lesson that day.
I wish it was the only one,
but it wasn’t.
I had another incident a couple days ago.
I didn’t even tell my husband about this one.
I was out by the pool with Number 5 and Number 7.
I was vacuuming the pool.
Number 5 was swimming.
Number 7 had gotten out of the pool and asked me to take her swimmie off.
I did, and then I went back to vacuuming.
Number 7 went to play in the sandbox.
A few minutes later, Number 7 came back and sat down on the steps of the pool. She was playing with some toys.
I didn’t put her swimmie back on.
I was right there vacuuming. She was okay.
I kept vacuuming.
I was on autopilot. Zoned out.
Until I heard crying.
And I saw Number 5 pulling Number 7 out of the pool.
I don’t know if she just decided to jump in, or if one of her toys floated away and she was trying to reach it.
I never saw her.
And her 4-year-old-sister saved her.
I’m a fucking Division One swimmer.
A swim lesson teacher with a really good reputation for teaching kids how to swim.
And my own kid almost drowned in my own pool.
While I was standing 10 feet away from her.
I’m afraid the title of Worst Mom Ever goes to me.
I could beat myself up over it, but that won’t solve anything.
We get off track with being mindful.
Sometimes we need reminders.
And sometimes the slap in the face is a little harder than others.