Do you remember when we were teenagers and we thought nothing terrible could happen to us? We made crazy choices like riding in our friend’s truck at 100 mph or going on blind dates with strangers in Italy (just me?) or taking a drink from a total stranger. Teenagers think they’re invincible. I remember learning in Psychology 101 that this was normal and temporary. Most of us grew up to realize we were idiots who were definitely not invincible. We realized we took some pretty crazy chances back in the day. We grew up and wondered what we were thinking and we felt a little lucky that we even made it out alive. Things could’ve ended really, really badly.
But, I’ve come to realize, this invincible mentality doesn’t go away for everyone. For some it only remains dormant until they become parents at which point they think tragedy only happens to other people.
These are the people who hear about the little boy that drowned in the pool or the baby who died after being accidentally left in the car and their first thought is “Where were the parents and what were they thinking?” Their first instinct is to blame, become outraged or ooze sanctimony.
I get these people. I do. I used to be one of them. Nothing terrible could ever happen to me or my child because I was careful. I was the world’s best mother and these things only happened to the bad mothers or the careless mothers and I was not one of those. Through the years, I was shocked and humbled to find out that most of us are in the “Mediocre Mom” category. We have great days and we have bad days. Surprisingly, we are human and we make mistakes and this means we are human parents who make human parenting mistakes. We all make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are small things with no real consequence attached–a baby rolls off the bed without so much as a bruise, a 2 year old escapes the mall play area when mom’s not looking (but is quickly found and brought back). Sometimes, though, these mistakes end terribly. You see, that baby could roll off the bed and really hurt herself or a not-so-nice stranger could find the 2 year old before mom does. Sometimes our humanity and the messed upness we have leaks over into parenting and we are not perfect parents and things end in tragedy.
I think most of the people who read my blog are the types of parents who hear about tragedy and get a pit in their stomach because they know that could’ve been their mistake. And, you know, I hate even using the word ‘mistake’. Sometimes it’s not a mistake, because ‘mistake’ implies you SHOULD have done something differently and sometimes it’s just our imperfect nature and the fact that we’re not robots that causes tragedy. The only thing that could stop certain “mistakes” is a time machine and we don’t have those.
Anyway, like I said, I’m sure most of you blog readers are the type of parents who are humbled by your imperfection. I think I probably repel the people who think they are perfect with my brutal honesty, but, just in case, I have to share something with you:
If you’ve ever thought that you could not forget your child in a car, you are terribly wrong. This can happen to ANYONE, and by anyone I mean even the people who think or say it cannot happen to them. If you have a human brain and your brain functions like a normal human brain, then you are not invincible and you are not the world’s best mother (I’m sorry to say) because you are human and you are not perfect.
I hope we all remember that we are not omnipotent. We are not perfect. We do not know the future. We are all just mediocre parents who (sometimes) try our best and (often) fail. We could all use a little grace and a little kindness.
Please, please, PLEASE take a moment to read the following article in its entirety (and share it with any parents you know who are “invincible”). It is long and it is not easy to read but it is worth it.