I Was Only A Bad Parent For A Few Minutes

Blogger at Late Enough

My toddler daughter is a listener. Sometimes I have to say something twice, but after my second explanation, she’s on board. She’s always been that way. Her teachers call her disciplined and socially aware.

On the other hand, my son didn’t find that phase until yesterday. Well, maybe more like between 4 and 5 years old, but not at 2. He was mostly described as focused, which sounds similar but that’s because the rest of the sentence is mumbled and should sound more like: very focused ON HIS IDEAS.

I have taken full advantage of my daughter’s listening gene mostly because it means less moving for me.

So as my daughter is skipping down the sidewalk outside of school, I smile and continue putting school bags in the car while humming along to my she-always-stops song.

I look up and think: Now, she’ll stop.

And then I say: Hey, N, stop there.

And she turns, smiles and KEEPS GOING.

Except the sidewalk does not keep going. The sidewalk ends in the school parking lot.

I begin to shout, and she begins to giggle as though running into the middle of a parking lot during the chaos that is preschool pickup is also a George Carlin stand-up routine.

I go full-on mom sprint (basically, The Flash but faster) and scoop her up halfway to a moving car while smiling apologetically at the driver willing this parent to forgive my inability to keep my daughter safe.

I give N the stern, We don’t run in the parking lot. We listen to Mama. We don’t make Mama run ever, talk and carry her back to the car as I try to catch my breath and dignity and parenting skills between mind's eye movies of her being hit by a car.

As I walk up to my own car, I assure myself that this could happen to anyone and she usually listens and for every person looking at me cross-eyed another is nodding her head in understanding. Until my five year old greets me with a loud: Mama, you left me by the car with no grownup.

I give up and roll out the abducted-by-strangers tape between the N-in-the-hospital-after-being-hit-by-a-car highlights while thinking back to the times I forgot to buckle the car seat, E hid behind kitchen cabinets in Lowe's, and when I didn't realizing the back gate was unlock until my son tackled my daughter as she toddled to the road.

My rational mind knows these moments happen to every parent, but I hear and see and know horrible consequences can follow a flash of forgetfulness.

My times of bad parenting are few and I believe to end them completely, I'd have to keep my kids in a bubble leashed to my belt. This tends to be frowned upon, and honestly, I don't want to do that to them. I don't want to parent them to the point that they don't grow.

But sometimes I can't let go of the what ifs. 

And when I read the news, I'm awed by my moments of luck between my years of diligence.