Today I made a mistake that could have killed my son

by renegademama

Today I made a mistake that could have cost my son his life.

You know we all look at those parents who forget their kid in the car due to a change in routine or stop watching them for 5 minutes near a body of water, or make some other fatal error in judgment, and we think “Dummies. Assholes. I would never be that stupid.”

And maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe your version of stupid is different from theirs. But the fact is that we all have those lapses in judgment. We all have those moments of stupid. We all make those decisions in the heat of just the right or wrong moment that in hindsight appear absolutely idiotic, even insane.

 

We were running late. My oldest is sick and I was taking care of her. We left the house 5 minutes too late. When we got to the school we had 4 minutes before school started. The parking lot, where I normally drop my 9-year-old off, was closed to make room for busses for a big field trip. I couldn’t see where to drop my boy. The parking parent suggested I drive down the street, turn around and wait in the 20-car-line coming the other direction, on the side of the school.

This bothered me. It would make my boy 15 minutes late instead of 2.

And his student report said he was tardy too much.

And I’m trying so damn hard to get him there on time, to do my part for his education. He’s dyslexic. He already has a hard enough time.

So I decided I would let him off on the side of the road and he could cross in the crosswalk. I pulled over to the right but there wasn’t anywhere to park fully. The tail end of my big Expedition was sticking out in the road.

I glanced in the side view mirror. I didn’t see a car. I told him “Okay Rocket, go ahead.”

He opened the door and we immediately heard the slam of buckling metal. Some dude in a Prius was late for a meeting and decided to scream by on our left. He clipped door as it was opening, buckled part of it, and ripped the side-view mirror off his car.

If it were 10 seconds later, he would have hit my son. At his speed, I doubt my boy would have survived.

I wanted to make it this man’s fault. Why wouldn’t you be more careful in a student drop-off zone? Why wouldn’t you watch, go slowly? The fucker didn’t even apologize. The dickwad didn’t even say a word. He said “There’s always so many kids around here!”

Um yeah genius, it’s a school. Kids tend to be near schools.

 

But the fact is I did something profoundly stupid. I was rushed. I was worried what the teacher would think. I don’t want to be that asshole parent who wants the school to work their asses off for her kid but isn’t even able to get her kid to school on time. I was irritated the parking lot was closed. I was not thinking of the safety of my boy first. I was thinking of getting to school on time.

On the way home, it hit me fully what could have happened. I saw in my mind, his little body crushed by a car. I felt myself throw my body out the car to hold him. The horror, agony, guilt. The way I would have replayed that morning in my mind, the moments leading up to it. The perfect shitstorm of circumstances leading to that critical second.

Whether or not he would have lived, he would have been terribly hurt, and it would have been my fault. I knew better.

He basically got out of the car in the street. AND I TOLD HIM TO.

It took my breath. I threw my hand over my mouth as I drove. I felt sick, like I could vomit. My eyes filled with tears. I shook my head, literally, to get the image out of my brain of his body and that metal.

 

I said in my last blog post that I didn’t become some better version of myself, some perfect model of human just because a baby exited my body. This is the single most difficult fact of parenthood for me, and the thing that fucks with me the most. I NEED TO BE A BETTER PERSON BUT I’M NOT, not always.

That goddamn human fallibility. My impatience. My lack of perfect judgment. My assumptions. My irritability.

And his innocence, his eyes looking to me for guidance, the unquestioning gesture of opening the car door because I said so. Just a little kid listening to his mother before school. I had no idea what was about to come. I had no idea what I was sending my son into.

 

I see right now in my mind’s eye his bouncing blond head as it crossed the street and walked to class. His little lunch box. His lack of backpack because he left it at grandma’s house. His tie-dyed t-shirt and tennis shoes.

The truth is I can handle my personality flaws, the things that make me not that great. We don’t need to be that great. But I don’t understand how we’re supposed to make peace with the fact that one error in judgment could result in a tragedy altering the course of so many lives. Well, I guess that’s the way with anybody, with any mistake, but it just seems wrong when it comes to children. It seems wrong that we are placed in the position to protect and care for these tiny beings that trust and love us completely, without question, and yet we aren’t given perfect judgment. We aren’t given 100% reliable insight. We are fucked-up humans who sometimes make decisions based on things that don’t matter, because the stars are aligned, or misaligned, or whatever.

 

It doesn’t seem right that my mind would scatter like that, fall apart like that, when I know the only important thing is my son’s safety. I’m generally the most defensive driver on the planet. I assume most people smoke crack before getting behind the wheel and plot my death as a pastime.

But today I made a mistake.

It isn’t one I’ll make again. But what other mistakes may come?

In 20 minutes I’ll leave to pick him up. I can’t wait to get him with me. I want to tell him “I’m sorry.” But it doesn’t seem worth it. How do you apologize for your humanity? How do you apologize for putting him a person in danger without knowing it? For being a fucking moron? I spent the day half-shaking at my stupidity. I want to fold him up under me again. I want to kiss his head 14,000 times.

 

Tonight is his dad’s 33rd birthday. We’re making him shrimp Louie. Rocket will want to help. He loves to cook. He loves salad, cutting toppings. We’ll cut tomato and avocado and egg.

We’ll make a cake.

I’ll tell him to be careful with the knives. I’ll watch carefully, so carefully, his tiny fingers and arms. His freckles and lips and giant trusting blue eyes. He’ll ask me what to do next. I’ll tell him. I know just what to do. I’ll be his mother one more day.

I’ll be his mother one more day.

And try to be better tomorrow.

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  • Derah

    Oh, I’ve been there, and 9 years later I still feel sick when I look back. I took my baby girl (4 months old) swimming in the Indian Ocean, which has great big freaking waves, in a baby floaty chair. WTAF was I thinking, I don’t know. I like the sea, I thought she’d like the sea. A huge wave hit me from behind as I was taking her out of the chair and barelled us into the beach. By some miracle I held on to her and though we were wet and sandy and spluttered a bit, we were fine. But if I’d lost my grip….

    As you say, we’re human, we’re fallible. But for our children’s sake we can’t afford to be.

    Be kind to yourself tonight and in the days to come.

  • Natalie

    hugs. We’ve all been there. I’m sorry.

    • Leslie

      This made me cry because everything you say is true. We aren’t perfect, we can’t be, yet our children deserve that, don’t they? I’m grateful your son is ok. I certainly empathize with you.

  • Katie @ AMotherThing

    Bless you. I can completely understand how you must be feeling. I have had some near misses in my time, and I can’t help but think it through to its inevitable conclusion where I DIDN’T get the happy ending. I obsess about what MIGHT have happened, and I rage against myself for being careless, even when there would have been nothing I could have done to prevent it. I am the most paranoid mom on the planet, constantly chastising my husband for taking his eyes off the kids for three seconds and worrying constantly that something terrible will happen.

    Last night we took them to the duck park, and my 20 month old went to pet a duck and fell in the pond. He fell in less than 2 inches of water, twirled on the way down so basically only his shoulder and neck got a little wet, and I was beside myself, yelling at my husband for not reaching him in time and terrified that he might have smashed his head on the concrete under that 2 inches. Hell, all evening, I kept thinking “what if he got some weird disease from all the duck poop in the water?” I ran through every scenario of what might have happened and how I was at fault for it.

    Being a mom is the most stressful job in the world, but like you said – we are human. We have to just hold on to the hope that our mistakes don’t lead to tragedy. We just keep doing our best, even when our best isn’t good enough.

    I’m glad you shared this. It is good for other women to see each other’s faults and fears.

  • Leslie Bishop

    When I hear of tragic lapses in judgment that result in harm to a child, I always think, “There but for the grace of God…” We parents are only human, and we have lapses in judgment. I’m so grateful your son is safe, and you can be his mother tomorrow.

    • Alyssa

      I agree… probably one of the most used phrases in my life! This is why I cannot understand people who heap recrimination on those parents who do make mistakes. There but for the grace of God go I…

  • Nikki

    Janelle,

    I have been “lurking” for awhile- you always seem to be able to describe things most people won’t admit to in a way that gets right to the heart of it.

    Today is no different. Making a mistake like that is something most of us won’t even admit to because it requires that we come face to face with what “could” have happened. Whether it is leaving the child in the car accidentally or telling Rocket to “go ahead”- all I can tell you is that sometimes we have really, really close calls and someone, somewhere is looking out for us because nothing bad happens. Obviously, the news tells us that we are lucky and it doesn’t always turn out that way, and that is what shakes us to the core. There is no use trying to make yourself feel better or stop shaking, because it is a waste of time. The reality of “could have” is terrifying.

    What always kills me is how many people pretend they have never made a mistake that “could have” gone really bad. That they have the audacity to judge others and assume that it could never happen to them because they are “good” parents. I know this is a defense mechanism because they want to separate themselves from the possibility that they might also make that mistake, but the truth is that even the very best parents make mistakes and sometimes they “could be” horrific (and hopefully are not). That doesn’t make you a bad parent, it makes you a parent. It probably makes you a parent who is far more aware in the future, whereas judging others and moving on makes you less aware.

    I hope you got to hug your boy and I hope you have gotten past the “what if”s. I hope you feel better because you brought it out in the light and you aren’t sitting in a room, swallowing the guilt and shame until it makes you want to vomit. One thing I love about your blog is that you say things other people won’t say, and what you said here is truth for more people than will admit it.

    Hugs to you.

  • Jenn B.

    I swear, the near-misses always happen in the moments when I don’t even realize I’m doing something stupid. That’s what makes the near-misses so scary…and what makes me realize that there are no guarantees.

  • Lydia Piserell

    Stunning! Looks just like you! With a 22 month old and a 3 month old I know all about bad judgement! !! In just getting into my prime of irritability, lapse of judgements, bad decisions. .. but thanks for making it bearable and more realistic! Love you!

  • Vagina

    I remember clearly when my 23 year old daughter was only 2 months old and I left her on the bed and walked out of the room to get something….and heard a THUD!!! She has rolled off the very high bed onto the floor. It has been 23 years since then, and I can still see every second like a movie on slow motion. Running back into the room and seeing her on the floor face down..not knowing if she was okay! Spending the next hours upon hours berating myself because I didn’t put the pillows around her that one time. Why did I forget the pillows??…Why didn’t I juts put her in the crib instead. She was okay…it turned out okay…But what if has never left me!! It’s what we do….as Mom’s…our lives are bound but the what if’s. Hugs to you Momma! Hold him FIERCELY tonight. He knows more than anyone you would give your life for him!! <3

  • Jen

    What a scary and horrible thing to have happened to you and your boy! I’m so glad he was ok. What you said above about how having a child doesn’t make us into a better person that makes all the right choices really hit home to me. I feel constantly stressed out that I’m going to make the wrong one and its going to hurt my son, but I tell myself every day that I just have to try and be the best parent I can. It really helped to know that someone else out there feels the same way, so thank you for sharing this your experience with us all out here in online land. 🙂

  • Freya

    The other day my daughter threw a boiling cup of tea down herself. It was my cup. I left it within reach, like an idiot. She was trying to help me in the kitchen. Luckily we got her into the shower and to the hospital quick enough to avoid a really serious injury. My point is, every one of us is capable of a momentary lapse. It’s hard to accept, but it is what it is. Feeling bad, picturing the worst will do nothing but make you ill. We do what we can, and when we fuck up, we acknowledge it and move on knowing anyone of us could’ve made the same mistake. Big love to you – your words have picked me up more than once xxx

  • Jo

    Wow, you’ve made me cry. So true, so very true. Tomorrow, I’ll do better xx

  • Ashley

    I have had moments like this. Nothing but time to help shake the feeling that I replay in my head over and over.
    My older boy was trapping his 15 month old brother in the umbrella cord aka wrapping the cord around his neck. His chin just high enough to reach it. And if he would have gotten it on he would have been stuck hanging in the back yard. Thankfully I decided to check on them and right away saw and interviened. I played it in my head. What if….
    I would have asked why didn’t you tell me, ask for help, something and my son inecently saying he just went to sleep. Isn’t he so sweet? And me collapsing in my back yard.
    It took me days to shake the feeling. I’m glad gods on the job and tragedy didn’t strike. We already lost a bay who was still born before my youngest was born. I don’t know if I would have been able to recover from that one.
    I hear you. I can relate deeply.

  • Beth

    “This is the single most difficult fact of parenthood for me, and the thing that fucks with me the most. I NEED TO BE A BETTER PERSON BUT I’M NOT, not always.”

    I just can’t even explain how much that resonated with me.

    • Carey H

      Me, too. Me, too. Ringing in my ears.

  • Beth R.

    That child has the most incredible dimples and freckles. He is stunning.

    And, lord, I’ve done similar things as a mother; things that scared me right out of my shoes. This life is so fragile.

  • Amanda

    Your blog hits so close to home for me. Sometimes I read your entries and I feel like you’re taking the words right from my lips. Keep it up!

  • amanda

    I love the way you write and I respect your honesty more than I can say.

  • Rita Arens

    I have had more than one of these moments where in retrospect you freak the fuck out because WHATIFWHATIFWHATIF. Because there but for the grace of God go any of us.

    I’m glad none of the awful things happened. Really glad. I don’t blame you one bit.

  • Miss B

    I let my two year old son play on the grassy hill next to the sidewalk whipe I loaded the trunk of the car. Next thing I knew, he ran around the front of the car to come find me and a bus had to stop suddenly to avoid hitting him.

    If it had been further down the road the bus would have been going faster… if he hadn’t been wearing a bright and visible tee… if it had been a few seconds later…

    I can barely type because it forces me to comprehend the enormity of what I did. What could have happened to my beautiful, beautiful son. Caused by me. Me, his protector. Me, his mama. The most awful, vivid images of what could have been won’t go from my mind…

    And saying I will do better, I will never let that happen again? I didn’t mean to do it the first time. It terrifies me. I need to let it go. I must never let it go.

    I hear ya, Janelle. I hear ya.

  • Carah

    i just got in a car accident a couple days ago. My kids are ALWAYS with me… i mean always. 3 and 5 months.. and I’m a stay at home mom… so there is hardly ever a time I’m not driving my girls around. Well that particular day i went to run errands after my hubby got home from for because it was faster to do it that way. I rarely do this.. maybe 1-2 times a month. Well… sure enough, this one time I RAN A RED LIGHT by accident. And a car hit my back right side… HARD. If it would have been any sooner (I’m talking seconds…) it would have hit my 5 months old side….. BUT she wasn’t with me this ONE TIME..

    I really slaps you in the face to be more careful. I think about that and get sick as well

  • Kelie

    Screw the dishes and the dinner prep. And this damn phone. Going to hold my baby now.

  • Phillipa

    People always tell me that I worry too much about the “what ifs”…..but worrying about them could maybe save a tragedy.

    I always think worst case scenario….and then I breathe a sigh of relief when it doesn’t come to fruition.

    “Do you know the odds of that ever happening? It’s like, 1 in million”…..yep, but in order for there to be a statistic, someone had to be that “1”

    These things do happen to people. You always hear the horror stories and think – not my kid. But everyone thinks that. And someone’s child was that statistic.

    I have been here more times than I care to count. I feel for you. And all you can do is hug him and know that next time, you’ll remember this day and maybe he’ll get out on the sidewalk. <3

  • Twila

    Thank you for sharing this. I sooooo appreciate these kinds of stories because they do 2 things: 1.) Bring awareness to something we should be aware of (and the more we hear them the more they stay at the forefront of our minds); and 2.) The fuckups of other parents help us feel a little better about our fuckups.

    Like that time we let our 14 month old daughter crawl up a flight of stairs. She was a pro at it, and for whatever weird reason LOVED it. We’d been following her and watching her for months. But this one time, for whatever reason, she got to the top, slipped and fell down. A baby. Down an entire flight of stairs. By the grace of God (as another commenter mentioned), my mom was able to run and catch her at the last step, breaking the impact of her fall. Me, my mom and my husband (who was at the top of the stairs watching our daughter climb) all fell into a heap and cried. It could have been tragic. And the public response would have been that we were absolute FOOLS for letting her crawl up the stairs.

    Or that time our daughter, at 5 and barely a swimmer, jumped into the deep end of the pool not knowing how deep it was. We saw it happen but time slowed down. Had our attention been elsewhere it could have been bad. Really bad.

    Or that time… See, there’s no end. And it’s scary and nerve wracking and exhausting to feel like you are ALWAYS on alert and the one time you let your guard down, BAM, you’re made to regret it. For a moment? For a few days? For a lifetime? If but not for the grace of God is right…

  • Nikki Berglund

    Ugh- how frickin’ scary!! Thank you for putting it all out there and please be kind to yourself. Something could have happened but thankfully it didn’t!! A month or so ago, I accidentally left my razor in the bath when I was bathing my one year old. I looked away for one second and he had it in his hands and was ready to chew on it or whatever! Scared the living shit out of me and I have never ever left it there since! You are a beautiful and truth telling writer mom and I love reading your stuff!! Don’t be too hard on yourself- being a perfect person would be so boring!! xoxo

  • nicole

    SO glad I’m not alone! Thank you so much for sharing this less-than-ideal moment.
    I was shooting a neighbor’s (free) session recently and had my kiddos with me. The dad said he had the boys so I kept shooting his wife. A few minutes later, a farm attendant came over and asked, “Is this your son?”
    It still makes me sick to think of all the things that could have happened. Cars driving around, train tracks across the parking lot, a busy road, strangers, fields. It makes me so angry! Mostly at myself, but also that this other person couldn’t keep his eyes on anyone but his own kid. And it was the model’s idea to bring my kiddos; normally I keep them with my husband.

    Sometimes it’s so hard to be that better person. But, in the end, we are that better person because we can’t shake the what-ifs and the guilt. But it’s that moment of not thinking that can make all the difference in the world.

  • Lis

    I think that this post is truly wonderful and Soo necessary! I am a grandma now, but I would sum up the two most important lessons I learned in being a safe mom.. !. If one thing changes in your daily routine or an emergency arises, it is often followed by even more unusual or emergency events because we are, by nature, easily thrown. Thus, the first thought I always had when I had a sick child, or was late for an event or had gotten upsetting news was..Lis, you are thrown a bit..do not allow this one event to spawn subsequent problems because you have an anomaly to your day. @. NEVER allow anyone. pleasing or placating ANYONE, interfere with what your normally cool and composed way of managing your life and your child’s safety. NO teacher, grade, etc. has the right to interefere with your child’s safety, even if done inadvertently. Your kids will grow up just fine, and there is no indcident no matter how it affects what you think is your child’s “self esteem, confidence, etc. ” that REALLY ends up mattering a whole hell of lot!! Do not trick yourselves into thinking that you can actually make that much of a diff by arriving on time, pleasing the teacher, friend, or other parent etc..Life does not work that way. It is never that simple. but what IS SIMPLE,what you CAN impact is your child’s physical welfare and safety,..this you KNOW! And you KNOW that it will almost ALWAYS make a difference! Go with that one..it is your best bet, with the highest pay off, as your # 1 priority.. ALWAYS! You can only EVER have ONE priority! Chose CALM!!!and repeat the mantra.. ” oh, fuck it..nothing matters more that safety!”

  • Sue R.

    Boy have I been there!
    One story involves a wood stove, one involves a car seat and one involves a vaporizer-apparently NOT the cool mist type.
    There are more stories than I can share so I’ll spare us both.
    However, I do know that I am a good Mom!
    AND SO ARE YOU!

  • Bekki

    Big hugs. He’s a gorgeous boy. I still have days when I wonder why all these people are so easily fooled into thinking I’m a Grown Up. They lend me money and let me sign documents and trust me with knives and motor vehicles. And children. I have three! Human beings who depend entirely upon me. That’s just nuts. I’ve nearly gotten one to the age of 16. It’s a miracle.

    I’m really just commenting to say… I’m so glad it turned out ok. That it wasn’t 10 seconds later. Big sigh of relief and on to another day.

    I think it’s crazy we don’t live longer than we do. It takes us SO LONG to learn everything we need to know, and by then… we’re dead. Not fair.

  • Strawberry Shortfuse

    Here’s something I learned relatively recently: Brown widow spiders play dead when they feel threatened. When, say, an 18-month-old finds one in the walkway outside of daycare. And then, when that 18-month-old’s mom, who is desperate not to helicopter and has some bs crazy idea that she needs to help her baby daughter not grow up with any kind of phobias about insects, says, “Go ahead and touch it honey, it’s dead,” the 18-month-old will trust her mother and touch the spider and scream scream scream and keep screaming, and the 18-month-old’s mother will try to calm her even though her own throat is closing up with fear so that she can barely talk and will put the spider with its bright orange hourglass belly in some Tupperware with shaking hands and drive her to the ER where the admitting nurse will give her the “oh it’s a crazy new mom” condescending intake treatment because the 18-month-old has mostly calmed down, until the admitting nurse opens the Tupperware and the mostly-dead spider kind of swings out at him and he shrieks and the 18-month-old’s mother will actually yell out loud at him in the ER “WHO’S OVERREACTING NOW, ASSHOLE?”

    The ER doctor said we got lucky. It was a dry bite. I asked how he could tell and he said, “Look at her. If it had poisoned her, she’d still be screaming.”

    When I tell this story to people I usually leave out the part where I ENCOURAGED HER TO TOUCH IT because I’m still so sick and ashamed and angry at myself and a little crazy paranoid part of my brain thinks maybe someone will want to take her away from me because I’m such an irresponsible parent and oh my god to think about her tiny little body getting pumped full of neurotoxin no no no no no.

    It’s been a year and a half.

    I feel ya, is what I’m saying here. Thanks for the post and big big hugs to you.

    • Twila

      I had to laugh when I read this. Not a mean spirited laugh, please know, but an oh-my-God-that’s-something-I-would-have-done laugh. As well as the oh-shit-spiders nervous giggle. I’m so glad everything turned out okay and it proved to be a valuable lesson on spiders playing dead, which is horrifying. Again, because this is something I would totally do, your story tonight prevented a future tragedy and I can’t thank you enough for that.

      • Sam Pereira

        Yikes! Me too! I’m pretty laid back… a little too laid back sometimes. My new rule is don’t touch and spider, dead or alive!

  • Shelley

    Mom, I hear you. Really. All you said is true. We all most likely have been there. I would say don’t think about it, but I think that when we make mistakes like that, we have to embrace the pain for a time, in order to learn from it. But when you are ready, do what Ma Ingalls used to do after she made mothering mistakes. Tell yourself, “All’s well that ends well”, and then don’t dwell on the “what-ifs”. Use the energy from the near-miss to just love those kiddos.

  • Lis

    I think that this post is truly wonderful and Soo necessary! I am a grandma now, but I would sum up the two most important lessons I learned in being a safe mom.. 1.. If one thing changes in your daily routine or an emergency arises, it is often followed by even more unusual or emergency events because we are, by nature, easily thrown. Thus, the first thought I always had when I had a sick child, or was late for an event or had gotten upsetting news was..”Lis, you are thrown a bit..do not allow this one event to spawn subsequent problems because you have an anomaly to your day”. 2.. NEVER allow anyone, pleasing or placating ANYONE, interfere with what is your normally cool and composed way of managing your life and your child’s safety. NO teacher, grade, etc. has the right to interfere with your child’s safety, even if done so inadvertently. Your kids will grow up just fine, and there is no incident, no matter how it affects what you think is your child’s “self esteem, confidence, etc. ” that REALLY ends up mattering a whole hell of lot!! Do not trick yourselves into thinking that you can actually make that much of a diff by arriving on time, pleasing the teacher, friend, or other parent etc..Life does not work that way. It is never that simple. but what IS SIMPLE,what you CAN impact is your child’s physical welfare and safety,..this you KNOW! And you KNOW that it will almost ALWAYS make a difference! Go with that one..it is your best bet, with the highest pay off, as your # 1 priority.. ALWAYS! You can only EVER have ONE priority! Chose CALM!!!and repeat the mantra.. ” oh, fuck it..nothing matters more than safety!”

  • Adele

    You poor thing, thank goodness he is fine, that you are all fine because of that. He’s beautiful btw. I had a moment last year when my now 3 year old just bolted off whilst we were out and ran straight into what is normally a busy road. That could have been it. She would have been gone. I’m spiritual but do not believe in god….but I feel like saying thank god that road was empty. Thank God. It still makes me feel physically sick and want to break down. Having a child is the most terrifying thing I feel, that you are responsible for their life…you have to keep them alive and as you express….we are only human ourselves. There are so many dangers. That guy is an utter asshole. Speeding past in a child zone. You could have not predicted that. That’s yet another danger….idiots like him. We very narrowly missed a 2 lane pile up with my 3 year old due to some idiot in a porsche. Try not to beat yourself up. So utterly terrifying. I’m sure you’ve held him tight tonight xx

  • Lauren love

    We need to let go of the idea that we can control every little detail of our lives. We have to learn to lay our children at the feet of Jesus and trust Him to care for them. After all, God created them and they belong to Him.
    It starts from the time they are in the womb, to the crib (constantly worrying about SIDS), to school ( are people being kind to them), to the car when they start driving, and so on… If we can learn to trust Christ now, it’ll be easier when there are bigger and scarier things to worry about.

    He is sovereign and he cares for and loves his children. We just need to trust.

  • Cera

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m so glad that you’re all ok.

  • maggie

    Thanks for your post.

  • Lizard queen

    Brought tears to my eyes. Been there too and yes, it made me feel sick to the stomach, still does when I think about it. Why can’t I be a better person? Because I’m me and nobody is perfect. I love my kids, they are my world. We all make mistakes, we just hope we can keep our kids safe, forever. Be human, be you. Your posts are fab and make me realise I’m not alone in my lunacy. Thank you.

  • katrina

    I love this. I can relate to every single thing I’ve read of yours. I am just like you. Makes me feel better.

  • Jenna

    I’m glad he’s fine. I’m glad you’re his mother.

    Be gentle with you.

  • loud wheel dog

    oh janelle, love and light and a heap of what they said. we all try so hard. I can’t remember if I was pregnant, it was august and I think if I was it was like 10 days but I was wearing maternity pants or shorts or whatever prob cause doesn’t everyone still just wear those when the kid is almost 2? and it was sweltering, 90-100 degrees. I dunno. I have this automatic start on my new mini van. (it’s 8 years old now… but hey luxury dude) and one of the reasons we even got the new van was the boy was always so hot, he’s a polar bear like his dad, they would both drive in the old car and the boy would scream and my husband would be a puddle of misery. so it’s Africa hot, I have the boy and I open the doors and then auto start the car so it will cool off for him while I load the groceries cause he needs to b strapped somewhere cart or car. so I load him in. I load the groceries. as I shut the trunk and feel for the keys… they are nowhere. and the horror of the auto start only running for 10 min after it locks the doors…hits me. I have the fucking maternity pants on. no fucking pockets. it’s like some move by “the man” to keep women in our place, don’t put pockets in maternity clothes. the keys and my cell phone were on the seat next to his car seat. in. the. locked. car. in Africa hot. at noon on a weekday. I was freaking out. I didn’t know what to do. do I leave him in the car and run into the foodstore? no look for somebody. one old guy gets out of his car. this is still the age of flip phones and the middle aged were still mostly against the idea… I’m all “hi!! sir!!! do you have a phone???!!” as I’m trying not to sob and I’m jumping up and down in front of the car making the boy think it’s peek a boo so he doesn’t flip out. and thinking I have 4 – 5 min tops till the car turns off and he starts to suffocate. I decide I will break the window if the car turns off. with what? not sure, I’m in the middle of suburbia. so I yell to the man “do you have a phone? help, please I need a police man! what no? no phone ok are you going in the store? can you tell them I need the police please, my baby is locked in the car!!!” he says “oh yeah, ok” and starts slowly walking to the store. and I yell, “quickly please the car is going to turn off any minute!!” no change in pace and he looks at me like I’m driving the enterprise, he doesn’t get that the key is not in the ignition. next a lady gets out. same age bracket. I’m like fuck me would some college kid please get the fucking munchies and come here now I need a phone! and it’s not like the store is close it’s like a huge parking lot and I sent the man… and the boy. he thinks I’m being funny, I disappear, he’s gonna go ballistic. so again I yell. thankfully she has a phone, is a mother and knows I need help NOW! she even dials 911 for me and I’m like yes I need a smokey with a slim jim stat!! or something like that… omg my baby isn’t gonna die or be traumatized by shattering windows. guy comes, I’m still hopping up and down playing peek a boo in the window, he’s all “well that’s a pretty new van sometimes the slim jims mess those up” I’m like “sir, it’s your slim jim or a rock to the window.” and the car turns off. I’m like “now would be awesome” and I’m starting to not be able to hold back the tears. took him 2/3 min. felt like 4 hours. he gets it, I sob, get kid, hold kid, try not to upset kid who still thinks we are still playing. and I profusely gush and sob my thanks. I forgot to get his name, I send a thank you note anyway attn: awesome police man who saved me from a horrible mistake in the stop and shop parking lot. since that day, I put the keys in my bra if I don’t have a pocket. I usually have a bra… I sat in that Africa hot parking lot and cried. I made a mistake. it’s hard to even think straight after you realize you made it. everything bad that happens to my kids happens on my watch. my husband says it’s just statistics. that what do I expect when I’m with them 99.9% of the time. yeah. right. I am. it’s always gonna be all my fault. I try my best. we all do.

  • Tracey Horrocks

    OMG. My children are now 20 and 21 and I still let out a long breath every year on their birthdays, that they made it another year on this crazy planet alive. It is such an enormous job to hold the responsibility of keeping them safe and protected from EVERYTHING that could go wrong!! I am a paramedic and my job has taught me that, no matter how hard you focus and plan and predict, ACCIDENTS HAPPEN and that is sometimes just a person’s life lesson. You are just the bonus that may change the outcome.
    I once dived onto a toddler in a stroller to protect her from her brother falling on her. Not even my child. The sickening part was that I forgot that MY child was on my back in a carry pack. As I dove forward, I watched her sail over my head and hit the concrete floor of Walmart’s and there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening. So there I was, clutching her and wailing about what a shit mother I was to have forgotten her and causing her a potentially serious brain injury, while the mother of the other child was profusely thanking me.
    I STILL have not forgiven myself. She was fine, by the way….thank God!
    You are enough. You are doing every thing to the best of your ability and that is all you can do.
    Love and light to you and your beautiful family:)

  • Melanie Ison

    Thank you, for this and all of your posts. I am a mother to four spectacular beings and at times I find the sense of responsibility paralysing. I love the honesty from you and your audience, the sense that we are all muddling through, genuinely doing the best we can on any given day, while all the time we are at our most vulnerable because of how much we love our children.
    Thanks to all of you, x

  • Rose

    “there but for the grace of god…” Too many times to count. I always am amazed that my kids managed to get to their teenage years ( relatively) unscathed. Then they start heading out to the big bad world and have to watch out for themselves. So maybe they need to see out mistakes, maybe our mistakes help them learn so they can do the job of keeping themselves safe. Hug him for me too

  • Gina

    Hug yourself, hug yourself, hug yourself. We have all been there. That split-second where we think, it’ll be okay, just this once. Thank you for being honest and sharing your experience. Onward with your motherhood, darlin’!

  • Anna

    At stop and shop a couple months ago my three year old daughter went to get the pudding out of the freezer section, the ones on the wall with the big giant doors. I had turned to check our cart just for a second and the entire door fell if the hinges and knocked her sideways. If it had just knocked her backward. it would have easily crushed her. Even if it was a freak accident…I feel like I should have been looking. They still havnt replaced the door and every time I pass it I still feel nauseous. Thank goodness your little boy wasn’t hurt. <3

  • Virginia

    I’ve had a few of these moments. Most recently this summer when I took my 3 kids and nephew to the cottage. They were noisy and we had been sitting in traffic for hours. I was tired, fed up and cranky. When we got there I told them to put their bathing suites on and go swimming (30 feet away) in the lake while I unpacked the car. So stupid of me. When I finished unpacking my 6 year old daughter told me my youngest boy who is 3 and I know full well has zero self preservation instincts, had walked in the water farther then he can stand. She told my 10 year old son and 9 year old nephew, who pulled him out right away. They said he caughed a bit but was totally unbothered by the situation. I DIDNT EVEN KNOW IT HAPPENED. I don’t want to think what would have happened if the older ones weren’t paying attention or ignored him, because kids sometimes do that. I’ve barely thought about it since it happened. Its very difficult to face our imperfections as parents, especially if it could harm our children. Hug your beautiful boy extra hard today, learn from your mistake and keep on keepin’ on.

  • Cath Gillespie

    Oh dear girl – 99% of mothers I know admit to this sort of split-second error in judgment and the other 1% lie.

    You’ll do better next time.

  • Tina

    First off, stop blaming yourself. It’s a school zone, at an elementary school – somewhere the kids SHOULD be safe to be dropped off across the street and walk across the street on the crosswalk. Second off, IT WAS A SCHOOL ZONE, WTF (pardon me) was the idiot in Prius doing going that FREAKING fast, especially seeing as you were only partially pulled over?

    Yeah, it’s the other idiots behind the wheel you have to watch out for – at least, that’s what I did when I drove, and what my husband does. Everywhere in our little city we see more and more people driving like idiots, and fewer and fewer people showing common sense.

    But Mama, you were doing what you thought, at the time, was best. Trying to get him to class ON TIME. I can’t, and I don’t think anyone else, can blame you for your actions in this matter. This was a problem not because of YOU, but because of the OTHER DRIVER. In our town/city a few years ago, after a few incidents happened, the police essentially started having to patrol/post patrol cars at school zones – watching for people using cell phones, watching for idiots, watching for speeders, and watching for people just not paying enough attention to the road when driving by a school, whether it be elementary all the way up through high school. I remember driving to pick up my oldest from high school after the patrols started, seeing, in addition to the two school cops (paid for by both the school board and the county), two cops parked at the entrance of a parking lot that parents who didn’t want to wait for the left turn signal to get off school property had been using to turn around if they turned right off school property, resulting in wrecks, one of which was fatal.
    We live close enough to our middle school that our sons could have probably ridden their bikes to school if they wanted to, despite the fact they’d have a heck of a hill to climb back up coming home. I wouldn’t let the one that wanted to. Not because I doubted his skill, but I knew how the idiots drove those two roads in the morning.

    • Vagina

      I completely agree with you!!! That asshole in the prius was 100% at fault!!.. A school zone should be a safe place for kids to get where they need to go!! That’s it! They need to have something in place so that the kids are safe from motherfuckers who think it’s okay to speed through a school zone!

  • Alicia

    Thank you so much for sharing!
    I cried the whole time I was reading your post. You are not alone.
    A year ago something similar happened to me. After reading you story I think I finally cried what I haven’t even said to anyone. I’ve been so ashamed and I hate to think about that day…. From our mistakes we can learn…

  • Agata

    We’ve all been there. Or will be there. Probably again and again. God, that’s terrifying. I hope you aren’t being too hard on yourself-it’s a pretty shit feeling, this knowing you need to be a better person. We probably shouldn’t wallow in it too much…
    Thank you for your post–

  • ErinB2011

    My daughter, 5 months old at the time, was on antibiotics for an ear infection. She’d developed diarrhea and a very nasty diaper rash. We were both exhausted from broken sleep, she was miserable, and I was stressed. She had a particularly explosive poop, and I was trying to clean it up while she flailed all over the room, getting poo everywhere. I was fumbling around in the basket on the high shelf in her room, where I keep the barrier cream (and all the other things I don’t want her to get into, to keep her safe, yunno?). Frustrated, I finally just grabbed the basket and put it on the floor beside her, grabbed the cream, used it (while she screamed), and then left the room to take the diaper to the bathroom (we use cloth diapers). Then I noticed that sound…the sound of silence, which is never a good thing! I’d forgotten to put the basket back on the shelf, and she had gotten into it and found a pair of scissors. WHAT??? How did they even get in the basket??? Oh yeah, when I bought new clothes for her, I cut the tags off before washing them in special sensitive washing detergent…yunno, to keep her safe! Ugh…I know this pales in comparison to what you experienced, but trust me…all mamas at some point find themselves in these situations. Big hugs.

  • Joanne

    My toddler was just learning how to run. He’d already mastered walking by this point and the goal was to tear around as fast as his tiny legs would go. We were upstairs in my bedroom. I was folding laundry, and he was terrorizing the cats. In order to get from my room to the stairs, you have to go out the door and around a corner. I turned my back for 5 seconds. 5. Goddamn. Seconds. To put a pile of shirts in a dresser drawer and before I’d even closed the drawer, I heard THUD! THUDTHUDTHUDTHUDTHUD! CRASH! Then the most otherworldy shrieking you’ve ever heard. He’d run off the top step as if gravity wasn’t a thing, bounced down all 14 stairs and crashed into the baby gate at the bottom so hard, he knocked it out of the wall. I flew down the stairs to find him lying on his face with the gate on top of him. He had a nasty, bloody scrape on his forehead and one hell of a black eye. He screamed and clung to me for about 10 minutes and then…he was fine. He wanted to get down and go play. And he didn’t hate me. He ran to give me hugs and kisses at every available opportunity. He still does. And I still hate myself a little, even though I took him to the doctor and he was fine. That memory replays in my head almost every night before sleep. Why didn’t I close the bedroom door? Why didn’t I move the baby gate to the top of the stairs. There are so many things I could have done to prevent that and I didn’t. Because I didn’t know. He was right there and there was no way he could’ve gotten to the stairs in the 5 seconds my back was turned. It’s been three months and he’s figured out the stairs, but I still watch him like a hawk every time he’s near them.
    I guess the moral of this novel is that we all make mistakes. Learn from them, but don’t let them take away from your life with your children. Enjoy every single minute. And all that cliched crap. Good luck mama <3

  • Saundi

    I was in a trying-to-get-my-kids-to-school-on-time and seriously-why-does-it-take-my-kids-so-long-to-get-ready-in-the-morning-when-I-am-the-one-packing-lunches-and-snacks-brushing-hair-making-breakfast-putting-homework-in-backpacks-and-all-you-have-to-do-is-get-dressed-eat-pee-and-get-in-the-car situation. Anyway, my situation happened about six months ago and with each day gets a little easier to stomach. I hope time will help you be easier on yourself because we are all human.

    I was in a different suv than usual, not sure if that was even relevant, but possibly may have been a better outcome than if I had my usual larger suv. Two of my three kids were buckled in the car ready to go to school and we were waiting for my 7 yr old to come out of the house. She opened the passanger side back door and I heard the door shut. I gave her a few seconds to get buckled and then slowly started backing out of the driveway since we needed to go asap to not be (God forbid) tardy for 1st and 3rd grade. However, I ASSUMED, that she had GOTTEN INTO THE CAR, when I heard the car door shut. I don’t remember if I even looked into my rearview mirror, I assume I did out of habit, but honesly just don’t remember. For whatever reason, possibly because we were in a different car and it was harder for her to squeeze past her brother, my precious 1st grader had NOT gotten into the suv, but instead had gone around and IN BACK of the suv to get in through the other door. As I was backing up the driveway, I turned to look over my left shoulder, and there she was, standing outside of the svu, probably wondering why I was moving when she was not in the car yet.

    I shook all the way to school. How could I be so wreckless? Oh my God, I could have hit my daughter with my car!! And FOR WHAT? So she and her sister would not be marked as tardy for a day in elementary school? It really put perspective on our entire morning routine. Either get up early and take your time OR don’t get up early or STILL take your time.

  • Saundi

    I was in a trying-to-get-my-kids-to-school-on-time and seriously-why-does-it-take-my-kids-so-long-to-get-ready-in-the-morning-when-I-am-the-one-packing-lunches-and-snacks-brushing-hair-making-breakfast-putting-homework-in-backpacks-and-all-you-have-to-do-is-get-dressed-eat-pee-and-get-in-the-car situation. Anyway, my situation happened about six months ago and with each day gets a little easier to stomach. I hope time will help you be easier on yourself because we are all human.

    I was in a different suv than usual, not sure if that was even relevant, but possibly may have been a better outcome than if I had my usual larger suv. Two of my three kids were buckled in the car ready to go to school and we were waiting for my 7 yr old to come out of the house. She opened the passanger side back door and I heard the door shut. I gave her a few seconds to get buckled and then slowly started backing out of the driveway since we needed to go asap to not be (God forbid) tardy for 1st and 3rd grade. However, I ASSUMED, that she had GOTTEN INTO THE CAR, when I heard the car door shut. I don’t remember if I even looked into my rearview mirror, I assume I did out of habit, but honesly just don’t remember. For whatever reason, possibly because we were in a different car and it was harder for her to squeeze past her brother, my precious 1st grader had NOT gotten into the suv, but instead had gone around and IN BACK of the suv to get in through the other door. As I was backing up the driveway, I turned to look over my left shoulder, and there she was, standing outside of the svu, probably wondering why I was moving when she was not in the car yet.

    I shook all the way to school. How could I be so wreckless? Oh my God, I could have hit my daughter with my car!! And FOR WHAT? So she and her sister would not be marked as tardy for a day in elementary school? It really put perspective on our entire morning routine. Either get up early and take your time OR don’t get up early or STILL take your time.

  • Tessa

    That shit will definitely fuck with a mom.

  • Saundi

    I was in a trying-to-get-my-kids-to-school-on-time and seriously-why-does-it-take-my-kids-so-long-to-get-ready-in-the-morning-when-I-am-the-one-packing-lunches-and-snacks-brushing-hair-making-breakfast-putting-homework-in-backpacks-and-all-you-have-to-do-is-get-dressed-eat-pee-and-get-in-the-car situation. Anyway, my situation happened about six months ago and with each day gets a little easier to stomach. I hope time will help you be easier on yourself because we are all human.

    I was in a different suv than usual, not sure if that was even relevant, but possibly may have been a better outcome than if I had my usual larger suv. Two of my three kids were buckled in the car ready to go to school and we were waiting for my 7 yr old to come out of the house. She opened the passanger side back door and I heard the door shut. I gave her a few seconds to get buckled and then slowly started backing out of the driveway since we needed to go asap to not be (God forbid) tardy for 1st and 3rd grade. However, I ASSUMED, that she had GOTTEN INTO THE CAR, when I heard the car door shut. I don’t remember if I even looked into my rearview mirror, I assume I did out of habit, but honestly just don’t remember. For whatever reason, possibly because we were in a different car and it was harder for her to squeeze past her brother, my precious 1st grader had NOT gotten into the suv, but instead had gone around and IN BACK of the suv to get in through the other door. As I was backing up the driveway, I turned to look over my left shoulder, and there she was, standing outside of the svu, probably wondering why I was moving when she was not in the car yet.

    I shook all the way to school. How could I be so wreckless? Oh my God, I could have hit my daughter with my car!! And FOR WHAT? So she and her sister would not be marked as tardy for a day in elementary school? It really put perspective on our entire morning routine. Either get up early and take your time OR don’t get up early and STILL take your time.

    I questioned her for days… thank goodness, but how in the world did you get around to the other side so quickly? She said she remembered what I taught her and that she gave some space between her and the car when she walked around (and driving oursmaller suv at the time, wouldn’t have take as long to get around). I am still not sure if she actually had to jump to the side to get out of the way or if she was already clearly on the safe side when I started moving backwards. She did not remember herself… it all happened so fast. Either way, I am pretty sure I would vomit if a camera happened to catch the events and I could watch it all play back.

    I feel like angels were watching us that day and I felt like I must have gone through that scare for a reason. I feel like I did learn a lesson from it and maybe the close call will have me think differently about how I handle a more stressful situation in the future. My feelings are that sharing your close call can only positively affect your blog readers, and maybe because of it, one child will be saved from harm because you have helped put the morning routine (aka morning RUSH) into perspective for other moms.

    I love the real-ness of your blog. God bless you and please do not beat yourself up over this. This too shall pass and you will be an even stronger mom because of it.

  • Nancy Perkins

    Remember all the awesome things you have done for Rocket!

  • Jess

    Your post was just what I needed to hear. We just found out our beautiful, amazing, smart thirteen year old has been using self harm to cope with anxiety. Trying not to blame myself for so wanting another baby to make her a big sister six months ago. we have had so many near misses over the years of raising our four babies, but none seems to compare to this. I hope that we can look back on this phase with as much certainty that we were doing our best. Thank you for your rawness. You have beautiful kids because of your beautiful soul.

    • MomtoThree

      Hi there Jess, you and your daughter have been on my mind all day. As well as Janelle, cause come on – which of us can raise our hands and say we’ve never had a close shave like that? I know in the course of raising my three, I have had mishaps with changing mats, razors, swimming pools, shopping trolleys, carparks and goodness knows how many other hidden dangers. We can only do the best with what we have.
      But your story, your poor lovely daughter hurting herself – my heart goes out to you both. My dd is 11, but I see the fragility. The way girls compare themselves to impossible photos in magazines, the way they don’t eat. The lack of self-esteem always looming, however often we tell them they are gifted and beautiful.
      I wish you both the best of luck on your journey. You will be in my thoughts …

  • Karen

    In our community there is a woman who was jogging with her toddler, safely strapped into a jogging stroller. Something hundreds of thousands of people do all the time. She stopped at a corner waiting for the light to change, and a semi rolled up onto the curb and took the stroller and her baby with it.

    This woman is a wonderful parent. A truly good person, who would never put her child in danger, and yet, in a split second her world was turned inside out and her child was gone.

    I took my son swimming at the river when he was just a toddler – he was playing in a shallow spot and I swam about 10 feet out to a rock in the river. Climbed up on the rock and saw…. the top of his head, hair floating on the top of the water. He had stepped off into a deep spot and he couldn’t swim. I crossed that ten feet as fast as I could and hauled him out. He said “Mommy I closed my eyes and I held my breath!!” “I didn’t breathe!!” I told him he was the best boy in the world for not breathing. I will never forget that feeling of seeing him there – so close to drowning. TEN FEET.

    It CAN happen to anyone, and it DOES happen….. to good people. Responsible, caring, loving parents.

    All the more reason to cherish every moment and just do the best you can – you can drive yourself literally insane thinking of all the things that could go wrong – the very best we can do as parents is to do our very best, and have faith that that will be enough.

    • LaToya

      God bless you. I’m glad your son was ok!

  • NIX

    My daughter was two and a half when I had accidently left her in the car.

    I have aspired to be this organised almost perfect mother. Arriving to work on time with things all packed and ready to go. When my kids would fall asleep on the way to the centre of where I worked. I would leave them, take all the gears inside and then return for whichever one of my kids were sleeping. It worked until one november day.
    I had taken my son inside with full intention of returning back for my daughter who was sleeping. I got in the building. Packed my stuff away, sorted my son out and then….. got completly side tracked. People wanted my help so I would help them. Then I would attend to other children instantly igniting the teacher in me, so I began work. about 40minutes later, I was asked to take a photo with my children. A teacher asked where my daughter was and my eyes shot open. I was in shock, ran out and saw my girl with sleepy eyes open, in the car, strapped in, on a hot day with windows up. I ran to the door, opened it and sank to the concrete ground. I said i was sorry, body shaking all over and kissed her. She had noo idea that she was left in the car as she had just woken up and she thankfully wasnt too hot.
    NEVER AGAIN do i take my material lifeless belongings first. That shit stays in the car till my kids are sorted, safe and inside. I dont care about being the mum who can carry everything in all at once, look superb and organised. I just care about my kids being safe and being my number one priority .

  • KezUnprepared

    Every day is a new day. Be kind to yourself x

  • caffeine lights

    See, this is why I don’t like those jokes about “Kept my kid alive for 6 whole years, go me!” or “Everyone fed, nobody dead” because the frightening awful truth is that there are accidents, there is illness, and they can happen to any of us.

  • shelley

    12 years ago I took my infant daughter to the store with me. I had such a great time cooing at her and making her smile as we navigated the aisles. We went thru the checkout line and made our way to the car. For a split second I pondered putting the groceries in the trunk before my daughter in the back seat, but instinct took over and I grabbed my daughter and secured her pumpkin seat in the car first. A few more moments of cooing to entice another beautiful smile from her and when I turned my attention back to the groceries my cart was gone. I thought “why in the world would someone steal my cart?” I looked around and found my cart at the very end of the steep hill that was the parking lot…groceries spilled all across a busy 4 lane highway. I laughed thinking what a doofus I am! Then I remembered my fleeting thought and the horror struck that those groceries could have been my daughter! I was flooded with tears instantly and cried about it for days. It changed me in a way that I didn’t think possible.

  • PH

    Thank you for writing this blog. You are a great mama and doing your best. Be kind and gentle to yourself. We have all been there or at least understand where you are coming from.

  • Kari

    We are not perfect and all have made similar mistakes…be easy on yourself. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and hope that it doesn’t cost too much.

  • Buck

    Glad the kid is alright. Make sure you teach your kid to always exit on the street side and not into traffic. It’s the safest zone.

  • Erin

    Let me just add my voice to the crowd here and say that I am so glad that things turned out okay, and that I understand both your humanity and the huge impact it’s having on you. My heart was in my throat as I read it.

  • LaToya

    I freaking teared up reading this… because we’ve all been there. Mothers who wish they would’ve done that one thing to make their babies safer have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

    But you don’t have to do that, you got another chance. I’m grateful for that, and it’s just simply a reminder to you and to us reading to slow down. Life is quick enough. Thank you as always for sharing!

  • Sherry

    17 year old son get sick. We are between insurance but I convince the hubs that the boy needs to go to the doctor no matter the cost. Doctor diagnoses bronchitis and sends boy home with meds. Boy does not get better. He gets worse. I look at him and know, KNOW that he needs to go to the ER but I listen to the hubs who says the meds haven’t had a chance to work.

    BUT I KNOW.

    And I ignore it – because we don’t have any insurance and we don’t have any money.

    The next day it doesn’t matter. I take him back to the doctor, they do x-rays and say, “Take him to the ER immediately.” ER doctor looks at the x-rays and then looks at me (I will never forget this), like I’m some kind of fucking idiot. He keeps repeating how BAD this pneumonia is and why wasn’t the boy in sooner.

    Blame the doctor who missed the diagnosis? Yes.
    Blame the husband who worried more about money than my boy’s health? Yes.
    Blame the mom who KNEW and didn’t act fast enough? HELL YES BECAUSE THE ER DOCTOR SAID HE COULD HAVE DIED AND I KNEW!!!!!

    He’s fine. Everytime I bring it up he reminds me that he didn’t die and he’s fine. I need that reminding.

    That one will be with me forever and is only the latest is a round of mistakes I’ve made with my six kids.

    You are not alone. You are not a bad mother. You are human. Rocket is fine. I’m reminding you.

    Sherry

  • MomtoThree

    J, you are a great Mom. Period. Shit happens. What almost happened had a lot more to do with an asshole driving too fast to work than it did with you. Rocket is ok. Next time you’ll tell him to get out on the pavement side. It isn’t something one can foresee. Kiss that boy’s head and tell him how special he is.
    And be gentle with yourself.

  • Mini soph

    You truly have “the gift” of writing what all mother and fathers feel!
    The guilt that comes with being a parent and being human is massive! I carry it around everyday! We try our best knowing, that sometimes it’s not good enough!

  • adelfa

    I have, in my time as a parent, and a very careful parent too!, done the following to my precious children by accident…note that son and daughter both have ADHD:

    1. Son at 18 months old: I closed his finger in the hinge side of the door, then PULLED THE DOOR harder shut when it wouldn’t close, not realizing….
    2. Son at 6 years old: he was drowning at a lake and my nurse friend plowed into the water and dragged him out….
    3. Daughter at 6 years old: lost her at a crowded public beach and found her more than 15 minutes later OUT IN THE DEEP WATER (thank God she can swim)….
    4. Son at 3 years old: somehow he pulled out of my grip near a store front, ran into the parking lot, and was just an inch from getting hit by an SUV. Thank God for the driver who saw him and screeched to a stop….
    5. Son at 3 years old: my husband was carrying him on his shoulders but somehow dropped him and the kid hit the driveway and got a (minor) skull fracture….(thank God it was minor with just a one-night hospital stay to show for it)
    6. I’ve twice made bad left turns where someone had to screech and squeal to a stop to avoid hitting me, and if they had, it would have hit where a kid was sitting in the car.

    There are others. I know I sound like a horrible mom, and whenever I think of these I want to throw up. But 2 kids with ADHD is really tough–they do the stupidest things–and I’m not perfect. You are not alone. Just — thank God….

  • Laura

    Texas summers make for insanely hot cars. We were taking 13yo daughter to spend the weekend with friends for a birthday party. We had got her and 14mo son ready to walk out the door. I’d even picked him up to carry him down the stairs. Daddy went downstairs (we live in apartments) to cool down the car. He thought we were coming right behind him and left the front door open; just pulled to. At that moment I realized daughter hadn’t eaten anything and asked was she hungry. I put my son down and he followed us to the kitchen to make a PB&J for the road. I was getting her a cup of milk to go and she went around the corner to find the baby. I remember hearing her say “Oh my God.” And I took off running. The front door was open. I can hear the baby crying. I fell down in the living room trying to get to him. I am getting up and Daddy comes in holding the screaming baby and says, “What the fuck??!” I cannot form words.I didn’t know the door was open. He thought I knew. He thought I was coming right behind him. Daddy looked up just in time to see the baby at the top of the concrete stairs. He bolted up the stairs and caught him halfway down but not before he hit his face and head. I am going over 100mph to get us to the ER. Daddy takes daughter on to meet up with her friends and comes back. Baby is completely fine. I am a total mess. Going thru every single variation of what could have happened. Thinking about what a horrible mother I am. I’ve already “let” him fall off the bed when I turned to get pj’s. He slipped and hit his head on the side of the tub.. I felt like a failure. Thanks for reminding me we are all human. And that not a Goddamn one of us is perfect.

  • eris

    Thank you so much for the things that you share. That’s over half the problem right, we think we’re all alone in this un-perfect mother thing?

    I had my first child last new year’s eve, and she is the light of my life. I was 31 years old when we conceived, and I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to have children until the day we decided to start trying for one. She has changed my life in so many ways that would have been unimaginable to the childless me.

    My husband and I took her camping, not for the first time, but the first time since she had started pushing up and rolling around. We have a pop-up camper, and I was playing with her on one of the beds. I stood up, and for an instant my attention was stolen by a father across the campground berating his ~7 yr old son for trying to help fold up some part of their camping gear in the “wrong” way. I was appalled by the way this man spoke to his son. I was horrified by the way he forcefully yanked him away from the item. I was heartbroken to see that when his son got smacked SO HARD on the back of the head that he didn’t even flinch – this was clearly not the first time. I was… pulled back to my 6 month old daughter by the most heart chilling THUD I’ve heard in my life.

    She had rolled off the bed, a solid 3 feet at least, onto the hard floor of the camper. She very easily could have smacked her head on a wooden cabinet just to the left of where she rolled off. She was lying there, completely still, not moving, and not making a sound. I’m surprised that I didn’t drop her when I snatched her up, I was shaking so hard. I was shaking for hours afterward. It took about 5 seconds, which felt about like a year, for her to start howling. It began as that horrible, heart-wrenching silent cry. She was fine, but it was official – in my moment stolen to judge another parent I had become the worst mother in the world.

    I spent the next week replaying the moment over in my mind. Thinking of how the slightest difference in the way she had landed could have severed her spinal cord, rendering her unable to walk for the rest of her life. I spent the next week reading stories of random accidents that happened to children – so many of them unpreventable. I will spare you the details of those here. I became terrified about my inability to keep my beloved daughter safe.

    I was lucky enough to have a close friend in another state who had a baby on the same day as me, and another in the same state but a different town who’d had her first just over a year before I did. I have texted these 2 women at all hours of the day, every single day since I have given birth. It still took me almost a week to tell them both what happened, but I felt so much better afterward. As you can imagine, they both had similar stories to share with me.

    If only we could all be more open and authentic, and share more of the bad, we would be able to see more of the good in ourselves. I ,for one, resolve to keep trying.

  • Cassie

    Bit confused about the overtone of blame on this post. Accidents happen anywhere any time, and I would not liken your story to not watching a kid near a pool, or forgetting a kid was in a hot car (both horrendous accidents that are the sad fault of a parental lapse).

    What happened to you was not a parental lapse. Cars don’t go around hitting other cars. The other drive was at huge fault. Stupid driver lapse on his part.

  • Lisa A.

    Guardian angels. No other explanation as I think back on near-misses with my three over the years. Not dozens of incidents … but a good handful. Once or twice hitting my knees in gratitude as realization struck. And it’s never been when I was being vigilant, aware there may be some kind of danger (“Get the hell off the roof! Your little sister will see and follow you!”) It’s in the ordinary-getting-ready-for-bed times (“C’mon girls, kiss Bubba goodnight one more time and come out of his room … Ellie? What’s wrong? Ty! Did she have any of these Legos in her hand? Ellie, did you put it in your mouth? Did you swallow it?? Oh my God, she’s turning blue. Husband it’s not working, keep trying, bring me my phone, 911 ……. sirens …… wait, she’s breathing, it went down. But lung or stomach?) Do you have any idea how many fucking choking hazards exist in the room of a 9-year-old boy? I do. 812. Unless you count each Lego as one and then the number may run into the millions.

  • DG

    I want to be a better person for my kids all. the. time. So much it hurts sometimes. This could have been me, or any of us. We are human and it sucks and it’s awesome all at the same time. I’m glad he’s ok. Give yourself a hug too.

  • Kim

    I am actually crying my eyeballs out. Thank you for posting things that are so true and so honest. My son is 4 and today is his school picture day and I did not want to leave him to go to work. You’re such a wonderful mother.

  • Almost me

    Janelle, you are an incredible mother. Tonight, when you hug and kiss your son, do it one more time for me, because I miss giving my boy kisses.

  • Michelle

    (((hugs)))

    We’ve all been there because none of us are perfect. I’m glad we’ve got tomorrow.

  • Lynn B

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing! It’s such a relief to know I’m not the only one who thinks like that! I’ve made stupid lapses in judgement like that and agonized over it for days and more (if I think of those moments now I’ll agonize all over again). Your story brought hubby and I both to tears.