Sunday, August 3, 2014 happens

A baby died in a car.  I am outraged and angry and out for blood. Because I would never do such a thing.
Only a monster of a mom would allow that to happen.  ....  right?????  Keep reading.

A I sought to defend a woman I knew to be a good mother, other stories began rolling in to me from mothers I knew that love their kids and would give everything to protect them ...

"We once left a child at the movie rental store watching a movie. We drove away before we remembered and came back for him."

"I often feel relief that my kids "survived" me during those young years"

"A couple of months ago I buckled my baby in her seat and was ready to leave work... I loaded my car with a bunch of other stuff, put the diaper bag in the car and started driving home..... I then had a sick feeling and looked in the back seat.... I left the baby at work!! I was sick and could not believe I would forget my baby!!! But I was in a hurry, my mind was frazzled by things going on that day and I left her! I hurried and turned around and she was safe in my office all buckled up and ready to go....  it happens... We get busy... We all love our kids and would do anything for them... But we are human! We make mistakes..."

 "I remember when (my son) was I think 2 or 3 years old, and we were packing for a reunion. He decided he wanted to "wait" in the car and fell asleep. We looked everywhere and I think we even called the police, he was found a short while after, thankfully he was just dehydrated, but it was scary."

Once, in the midst of nine children and their multiple activities, Ben was left in the car. Jennifer, one of the older girls, had been buckling him in and out of his car seat for about 6 months, and carrying him inside wherever we went together. She loved it and simply did it every time. (The other girls complained sometimes saying she was "hogging" their brother.) We were in a hurry, on our way to a play practice. It wasn't even a thought process for me. After about 15 minutes inside, I asked Jennifer where Ben was. She'd been so excited about the play practice and her part in it that she hadn't gotten him out. He was still in the car! My heart in my throat, fear with me every step, horror filling my breast, I ran up the stairs to the car. Lucky for us, it was a cool day, and Ben was just fine. Lucky for me he was still there. I have never forgotten the moment, and reliving it brings feelings I can't even describe. It's been 12 years."

"I can distinctly remember two incidents in my life with young children when I did something mistakenly that could have resulted in one of my children being injured. In both of those instances, I chose a path out of the ordinary that kept my child from harm purely by accident, however I could not help but think, what if I had not, and how my life would have been changed forever by that mistake. "

These are just a few stories of the kind of "monsters" that forget their kids. 

And here's my story:

One day my husband and I took our baby grocery shopping with us.  After unloading the car and then relaxing ... We each assumed the other had brought the baby inside.  My husband began asking about the baby, where was he? Where was our precious gift from God?   

We had left him in the car.  One of those heart-wrenching moments that shatters a parent when they realize how easily things like this happen. 

In our circumstance, we were able to get to our baby quickly and no serious harm was done. But imagine for a moment if the phone had rung, or I had laid down for a quick nap or assumed my husband had laid him down for a nap. and it had been hours before we realized our mistake. It could have been deadly.

This almost exact scenario that DOES NOT end in death is EXTREMELY common.

These stories did not end with a tragic death.  How many stories like this are there?

I have heard and read over the past few days accusations of how awful a parent must be to forget a child.  I suggest to you, it is not awful parenting to forget a child. It is just human.

My hope is that instead of harsh judgments, we pray, we lift and we assist where we can the families that have experienced this heartache.  No amount of jail time will ever be enough to "scare" a parent into remembering.  Our fear of killing a child is more threatening than jail.  Trust me.  We caring and forgetful parents do not walk away from our child and think, "they might die in here, but hopefully I won't go to jail for this".  No my friends, we just forget.  We do.  We are not robots with a microchip in our heads that beeps when we walk away from a child absentmindedly.  We are not criminals.  We are loving caring parents with moments of imperfection.

A baby died.  I have cried.  My neighborhood has cried.  Friends and family are holding each other sobbing for this loss.  In the meantime, those who have no attachments to the actual people involved, who have not shed a single tear over the loss of this child, are the first ones to attack and want to find blame because of their "outrage" over the death of this child.  This is not sorrow that they feel.  It may be anger.  But they have no idea of sorry and pain of this loss.  Their words are hollow and only show the worst in mankind.  

comments like....

  • a woman who leaves her kid to die in a car is a monster. 

...and worse that I won't even put here because they disgust me.
These kind of comments typically come from those completely detached from the situation and detached from the family have bombarded comments and facebook threads.


NO amount of jail time will frighten a parent into remembering a child.
NO amount of making an example of this will prevent it from happening again.
No amount of blaming, finger pointing, name calling and accusations will bring a baby back or prevent more from passing away.

I do not believe that justice for this baby would include tearing the family apart, ridiculing her mother or giving the harshest possible sentence.  I believe this baby knows her mother and would testify that her mother is a good mom.  This baby would want her brothers and her dad to have her sweet mother around for them.  She would testify that April and other parents like April, need to be with their families for the family to heal completely.

The question was asked of me,
"You must be ok with the idea that mothers will kill babies?"

The answer is of course, no.  It's not ok.  But here is the more complex answer...
While there are vicious and cruel people that have purposely buried kids alive, or cut their families to pieces, MOST mothers like April and me and the mothers listed above in the stories I shared, We want nothing more than to see our sweet children laugh, play, go to school, grow up into healthy and happy adults.  We are not "OK" with tragic deaths.  We do everything we can to be the best kind of parent we can be.  Occasionally we fall short.  Sometimes critically.  It is not OK.  But it does not deserve condemnation, name calling and ridicule from the masses. I do not believe harsh judgments make this better.

Prayers for the families of all of those that have been affected by this loss.  May we all be a little more kind-hearted and watchful and loving.

I am lucky my baby is alive and now a 16 year old man.  I am lucky to have survived my own childhood from stupid things my own parents did.  I challenge you to leave your own stories of moments like ours in the comments or facebook threads.  Let's find out how common this is.  Is this negligence?  or is this a tragic event from a common occurrence of forgetfulness by good parents?

As I have thought about what I could do to give love and support to this woman being torn apart by those who do not know her and has to live with the guilt of being responsible for her own child's death....  I put myself in her shoes for a minute.  What would I need?  I would need other parents who are good, loving, smart people that have had a minute of a near fatal oooops, to speak up for me. To help people realize I am not a monster, to stand up and say something, to share their stories.  Perhaps some REAL change can occur, like a child alarm system on car seats?  I don't know.  But trying to tear a mother apart that is already torn apart is not going to save a life.  What MIGHT do some good is to hear more of what many of us have done and been the lucky ones to have caught our mistake before it was deadly... because we got lucky.  Are you one of the lucky parents or a kid that survived.  Please share your story.

Please leave your comments.  By the way, I will remove comments that ridicule and do more harm than good at this point.  The judicial system will do what it will do.  God will do what he will do.  This blog is not for that kind of thing.

Another great article: article urging sympathy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting into words thoughts I was unable to express! I too have been both heartsick for this mother/family, and have felt angry at the harsh criticism and judgement others have thrown at this mother. I do not have a specific story but I remember very well days I was functioning on very little sleep while nursing a baby, caring for a busy 3 year old that would not nap, and a child in school without the help of a husband whose work schedule at that time made it impossible for him to help. There were days I probably shouldn't have been driving because I was so tired but groceries needed to be bought etc... it could have easily been me who forgot a child because I was so so deprived. Even as I write this, 15 years later I can anticipate the comments people would make to this admission... "if you couldn't have cared for so many children, why did you have them?"