This is the post that will either make you love me for my honesty or hate me for my stupidity. You have been warned.
Every summer, we see it in the news. Often. A kid left in a hot car. Sometimes it’s because the mother has gone in for a haircut, sometimes it may have been pre-meditated, and other times people just plain forget.
And it’s horrible. It’s terrifying. It’s scary to think that this could happen to anyone. Many people think they are “safe”. It could never happen to them, but who in their right mind would think it could? Even if you know and understand that it could happen in your life, you probably don’t believe it will. Hopefully it never does.
These news stories break my heart. I can’t imagine how a parent lives with the knowledge every day that their actions led to the death of their child. Especially when it’s completely unintentional. People who comment on such news articles appear to have no grace. “Poor parenting”, “they should have never had kids”, “This will never happen to me, I’m a REAL parent!”, etc, etc, etc. For a parent who truly forgot, who is probably beating themselves up and wanting to change the past, these comments likely dig deep and stab hard. I can’t imagine.
Yet, I can. I have been there. Let me give you a glimpse of a status I posted on Facebook last night:
Confession, because I hate it when people say it would never happen to them, and yet it happened to me. I left Piper in the car once. She was forward facing, in the seat behind me and I left her. It was hot out. There had been some confusion about whether she was coming with me or staying with Chad. I was distracted. I got out of the van, locked it and started walking away. I am so dang thankful that my mom and Taylor were with me. My mom said “aren’t you going to get the baby?” I looked at her confused and said “what baby?”, then I remembered that she was with us. I will never forget that happening. I think of it EVERY time I drive somewhere.
It can happen to anybody, given the right set of bad circumstances. I clearly remember the details of that day. I’m thankful it was momentary, but it happened. I forgot.
Some people will think it can never happen to them and that I am an idiot. That’s okay. I know I’m not. I’m just human. I’m not super human and I make mistakes.
You know what happened? Friends stopped by and commented and said “This happened to me too”. They shared their stories. Many shared how the memory haunts them. They know, as I do, that the outcome could have been much, much different. Every one of us is thankful that it wasn’t. Each of us understands that this isn’t something that only happens to horrible parents. Oh, sure, there are some parents out there that leave a lot to be desired, but that is not our downfall.
Our downfall is that we are human. We have things on our minds, we are busy, over worked, over scheduled and distracted. We have new routines that throw everything in our day off. I will never NOT regret that this happened to me. Our situation did not end terribly, but it still happened and I still remember. (Unfortunately, Piper, who has heard this story many times won’t forget either. I get a “Don’t leave me like that one time!” all the time)
Look, I’m not proud of myself. Not in the least. This shouldn’t happen. Unfortunately it does. It happens more than it should. I can understand how and why though and my heart mourns for the parents who were much like me and just had a different outcome. It’s something that can’t be taken back and when a parent is already grieving, they don’t need to be blamed. They need compassion. Understanding. Solidarity. They need to know that it could happen to anyone.
Even if you think it wouldn’t happen to you.