What Kind of Mother Allows Her 2-Year-Old to Run Into Traffic?
Cal almost got hit by a car the other day.
It happened so quickly and in such slow motion that unless you’ve had a similar experience, I can’t possibly describe it to you the way it happened in my mind.
I had both kids wait for me on the sidewalk on our way into a park area, and last-minute, I remembered my purse in the front seat. In the time it took me to reach in the passenger door (nearest the sidewalk and kids), sling it over my shoulder, and close the door (17 seconds, maybe?!), Cal was in the middle of the road being pulled back to safety by an older gentleman. Thankfully, the approaching car also saw Cal and stopped.
It was best-case scenario all around.
I profusely thanked the man for his quick action as he joked with me that I need to get my kids a leash. His wife, who looked on during the entire fiasco, empathized and said, “You certainly do have your hands full.”
In that moment, I couldn’t think about what they thought about me. I was never going to see them again. In my profound relief, I was only worried about what I was thinking about myself. About what the loud voice in my head would tell me about what type of mother allows her 2-year-old to run into traffic and isn’t even the one to save him.
In a quick shame spiral, I saw myself planning a baby funeral and burying my little boy, being unforgiven for the rest of my life by my husband and daughter, and living an existence so painful that I couldn’t look in the mirror.
But then I answered the question I had feared: What kind of mother allows her 2-year-old to run into traffic?
A good mother. A caring mother. A loving, nurturing mother. A fun, silly, hide-and-seek-playing mother. A tired-in-the-best-way mother who spends her days working and dream-chasing and raising kids and staying married and keeping up a social life and volunteering and doing all the things I hope my daughter does as a mother one day.
I’m a really good mom.
Tragedy didn’t strike our family that day. It could have. And I’m raising all the praise hands that it didn’t. I’m still shaken up about it, but not beating myself up for it.
In the blink of an eye, life can change. I’m remembering that now.
And I know I’m not alone. That’s the beauty of the Mother of the Year Facebook group – moms coming together to encourage and celebrate each other, while being vulnerable and sharing the things they may be tempted to hide for fear of harsh judgment.
Here’s Lindsay’s story, for example:
I am Mother of the Year because this happened to me today:
Yesterday while we were out and about, Watson (our dog) got sick all over the basement. Blake discovered it this morning when he woke up to work. He cleaned the vast majority of it, but asked if I could do a good once over (just to be sure). So this morning before church, I told the girls I was going downstairs to clean the basement floor. Fletcher was safely in his chair, and I knew it would be less than 10 minutes. So down I went. When I came up, I noticed I didn’t see Eleanor. I asked where she was, and nobody knew.
This isn’t unusual, she often finds a place to hide away and play quietly by herself. It was almost time to leave, and I remembered Fletcher’s shoes were in the car from last night. I figured I would go out and grab those, and then go check to see what Eleanor was up to. I went out to the garage and could hear Eleanor’s faint cries. She sounded so far away, so I quickly glanced around the garage before I opened up the door to our car and saw her sitting in her car seat, crying her eyes out.
She was sweaty, and scared, and I had no idea how long she had been out there. I quickly carried her inside and gave her some water to drink. She had plenty or tears and snot and drool, so I knew she wasn’t dehydrated, but I still made her take a few big drinks.
She had forgotten to change into her clothes, so I carried her upstairs to get her changed, all the while asking her how long she had been out there and what she was doing, and didn’t she know she’s supposed to ask to go out into the garage?
It wasn’t until I told her that she wasn’t in trouble that she started to talk.
Apparently, for some reason, she thought it was time to leave, so she went out into the car to get buckled. She wasn’t being bad, she was trying to be proactive. She started crying, and thought I could hear her, that’s why she didn’t get out. She didn’t know how long she was in there, but it was “a long time.”
We were both terribly shaken up. To be honest, I still am. Praise Jesus, she’s ok. I share this for a couple of reasons:
1. I’m a really, really good mom. My kids are my whole world. We talk about rules and safety and why we have those rules and what the natural consequences are when they don’t obey those rules. Sometimes bad/scary things happen to even the very best of parents. Nobody is immune to these kinds of circumstances. If (more like when) they happen, it doesn’t, even for one moment, mean that you aren’t a good parent. Life happens, and these scary moments are part of it, no matter how much we hate it.
2. Keep going over the rules with your kids. Just because they’ve heard it 1 time or 2 times or 3 times or even more, doesn’t mean that they totally get it or will remember. Talk about the rules on a regular basis. Talk about why they are important and what might happen if they don’t follow the rules. Never assume that they “just get it.” Make sure you are absolutely clear. But then know, sometimes things still happen.
And when they do, give yourself grace.
Deal with the situation, and then tell yourself, “I am still a good parent. This does not affect my worth.” Then love on that baby with all of your might, and make it clear to them that even when you, or they, make a mistake, you still love them unconditionally. Tell them how scared you were, tell them you love them, go over the rules one more time, and squeeze them tight.
Then take a deep breath, go over what you can learn from the situation, and keep living life. Because life will still happen, and that’s a good thing.
I have absolutely nothing to add to Lindsay’s thoughts. They are perfect, grace-filled thoughts. Mamas, you are worthy. No matter the good, the bad, the ugly – that’s happened to you, in you, in spite of you, by you. You are worthy. You are a good mom. And you are never, ever alone.
We say this each week on our radio show, called Radio Theology, and it is worth saying to you today. God is for you, not against you. He is near to you, not far away, and He has created you on purpose and for a purpose.
Love your kids hard today, mama. And love yourself well, too!
P.S. If you’re stuck in the shame spiral of your circumstances, I want to help! I’ve created a journal just for you. It’s a guided journal based on a process I’ve been through over the past year to pinpoint the lies I believe and replace them with the truth about who I am. As soon as it’s published, I want you to have it! Get on the email list to be the first to know (and get a discount!) – you are worth living freely as yourself. Pre-orders will open soon!
P.P.S. I HATE to ask, because you’ve read alllllll the way down to the bottom of this page (thank you!!!), but if you’ve got 5 minutes, would you be willing to take a brief survey for me so I can create more content that will help you thrive in motherhood?