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Pride Goeth Before the Major Parenting Fail

Years ago, when I was blogging for ClubMom, I wrote a post that I believe was about the time I slammed Mia's fingers in the storm door. And I don't mean just boom and done, I mean her little fingers were in the hinge side and I kept yanking the door as hard as I could because I couldn't figure out why the damned thing wouldn't close and she was in too much pain to even scream and let me know about it and... wow, sorry, traumatic flashback, just give me a minute here....


Ok, anyway, when I wrote that post, I got an astonishing number of comments from people who said their worst parenting fail was forgetting to strap their kid into their car seat, or else strapping the kid into the car seat but the car seat was not actually attached to the car in any way. It seems that lots of people have done this - lots. And it has been a point of pride for me ever since, that in all the ways I have endangered my children through a momentary carelessness or lack of attention or even a simple failure of imagination, at least I had never done that. Now sure, I've popped the car into drive a time or two and then realized someone wasn't fully strapped in, but driving around town that way? Never.

You see, I have this Rule. The first thing I do, always, every time, is strap the kids into their car seats. I never get into the car until that is done, not even if it is pouring and they are being royal pains in my butt. And if we are waiting in the car for some reason and going to be driving again, everybody stays strapped into their seats, no matter how much they whine. Because that is the Rule, and it has worked for me for four and a half years now.

And then yesterday, we were at Target and had to go to the grocery store, but Owen wanted a drink and all I had was a bottle of water. So I put him in his seat and gave him the water, but I didn't strap him in because that makes it harder for him to drink and he spills. And you can see right where this is going, can't you? I pulled into the grocery store lot, parked the car, and Owen hopped blithely out of his seat. It took me a few seconds to figure out how he had done that. Did he wiggle out? Did he open the buckles? Nope, I just didn't strap him in.

And oh, it was a short trip on small roads, and oh, I have never (knock wood) been involved in a serious car accident, and oh, the odds of wrecking during that particular five minutes were small. But oh my hell, did I really just do that? I now have a new #2 on the list of Beth's All-Time Stupid Parenting Moves (poor Mia's finger has moved all the way down to #3 in the intervening years).

But once my brain started working again, I remembered that long-ago ClubMom post, and it was hugely comforting. To know that I wasn't the worst mother in the entire world, or that if I was, at least I was in excellent company. So if you happened to be one of the people all those years ago who bravely admitted to this particular Parenting Fail, I would like to extend my belated but purely heart-felt thanks for unwittingly saving me from overly-excessive amounts of self-loathing. I've got ample amounts of self-loathing going on over this, don't get me wrong, but knowing I'm not alone is stopping me from demanding that Chris divorce me and turn the children over to someone at least mildly competent, which I do not, at the moment, seem to be.

Comments (27)

I frequently haul my girlfriend's children from one place to the other when her life gets too insane, but believe me, when I went to pick up the 3 year old at daycare and realized they hadn't left the car seat for me? Holy. I thought any SECOND I was going to crash and kill her even though I strapped her in within an inch of her life with the regular belt.

I am ashamed to admit that I did that two times with my daughter when she was around 2 years old, both within the span of a week. Now, if I ever forget to strap either of them in the kids will say, "Mom you forgot to strap me in." It's a good thing they are paying attention.

I'll share one on behalf of my husband who, when Kyle was five months old, lifted him onto his shoulders and directly into the ceiling fan. The fan that was on. It was the first time he did that slow, silent baby cry.

Every time I do something shitty as a parent (often!), and Mike tries to give me a hard time I say, "At least I didn't put his head in a fan!"

Our relationship guide will be out next year, by the way.

What is #1 on the list?

Done that twice - he now tells me if I am being a muppet and forget to strap him in!!

It must be that second child because I had my first experience forgetting to buckle up a kid last week too,(after 5 years never doing that with my own children, and years before that as a nanny) It was the same thing, I opened the back door and the two year old hopped out. And my daughter says, hey mom Anthony wasn't buckled. I wish she'd have told me that before I drove around town with him that way....

I'm so not getting the mother of the year award this year....

I have to say I remember that post from clubmom and am positive I shared a few of my mom fails which trust me oh how that list has grown since then! Now that two of the kids are a little bit older and buckle themselves in I freak out every.single.time we are in the car just too make sure everyone knows how important it is to buckle up. We drive to the bus stop in the mornings becuase it is too cold and there is a mom who comes in her car as well and the kids are running around the car like it is a jungle gym and the baby is always in her lap?! I just think if you let your kids run around in the car once they think you owe it to them always. It is just not a fight I am up for.

Sigh. We've all been there. Thank goodness our kids are old enough now to say, "you forgot to buckle me in!" The oldest even does it herself now.

It happens once in a blue moon, but just that once is enough to make my heart stop.

You are more than mildly competent. You're awesome, just having a bad moment.

when lola was almost 2, i used to take her on hours long walks every day in the stroller with the dog on his leash. one afternoon, the dog pulled the leash out of my hand and ran down the street into someone's yard. i stopped the stroller and ran after the dog (he's not the easiest to get back once he's on a mission). i managed to grab his leash just in time to hear a crash and screaming. i turned around and lola had rolled off the curb face first in her stroller. i had not engaged the stroller brake. the stroller was laying face down in the STREET. i lifted the stroller up, barely able to breathe, expecting to see missing teeth or hamburger face... and besides being frightened, lola was unharmed. i still can not believe she didn't somehow hit her head or face. and i'm so thankful no car was coming at the time. and that no one in a nearby house called me in to CPS... i just sat on the sidewalk holding her, wondering how i could have done something so horribly stupid as to not put the brakes on her stroller.

oh and then there was the time she fell halfway down the stairs right after getting back home from baby gate shopping and not buying anything because i didn't find any black ones and i HAD to have black ones... that slapped the vanity right out of me.

all we can do is the best we can, right? and try to survive the lapses and mom brain!

oh, it's happened to me too. The car seat thing was such a hassle, I'm so happy my kids are old enough to buckle themselves in now, even though I double-check before I drive away every time, but when they were babies it would take me 10 minutes just to buckle them in. I think it's all in trying your very best and having the best intentions. That's what makes you a good mother. At least, that's what I tell myself.

Ah well, guilty of all of the above. Drove son to very first pediatrician appt of his life, unrestrained. NICE. They still let me keep him. Got his fingers caught in a hinge - still has the scar. Nice. Oddly, he thinks I'm doing a great job at being his mommy. So forgiving.

You are doing a great job mommying!!!! Your kids are perfect and beautiful!

I once drove 1 hour home- on a 2 lane highway- with my newborn daughters all snug in their carseats. Snug and UNBUCKLED, of course. Though this one wasn't entirely my fault, because they were being held by different relatives, and when the both conked out, they were put- by someone else- into their seats and blankets all tucked around them. My fault for not checking, but at that point, I would have NEVER put them in their seats unbuckled, even just-or perhaps especially- sitting on the table.

Also, I once was goofing around and launched my 18 month old out of her stroller, head first, with a crowd of witnesses, and onto concrete. She landed on her head, I saw her head bounce (SHUDDER)... 100% my fault. Someone called an ambulance, even. And she required a trip to the ER. Now, THAT was a parenting FAIL. Thank goodness she was totally fine, minus a little first aid.

I have done that once in the car -- and only once -- so far. The worst was when I once forgot to do it in the stroller and when my eldest fell out onto the street, there was a woman watching and I said, "she's always unbuckling those things." Even though I had become painfully aware that it was my fault. Not only a failure but a liar too.

Ack. Isn't that the WORST feeling? I once drove through a parking lot telling me 2-year-old to PLEASE BE QUIET, when he was TELLING ME HIS SEAT BELT WAS NOT BUCKLED.

Oh, Beth, you are so not alone. I've done the fingers in the front door thing (and he was screaming, but I thought it was the usual "I wanna run around in the hall, let me out!" scream), and I too pulled harder on the door to try to get it closed. Urp. My latest was when I installed the 'baby-proof' faucet cover that has this scoop thing so the water comes out in a 'gentle waterfall' only I forgot that if you turn either of our bathroom taps about 1mm from the off position they are on FULL FORCE. There is no 'gentle' about it, and I managed to spray myself, my naked son (he's 2) and half the damned bathroom with hot Hot HOT water. No burns, thank goodness, but it was only sheer luck. If I think too much about how much of parenting is sheer blind luck, I get a bit queasy. And I still haven't topped my friends who managed to be so sleep deprived with a very colicy 2 month old that they left the baby home - by himself - and only discovered this 10 minutes later when they got to the grocery store. Each thought that the other had put him in the car. And it's only now that he's twelve that they can bring themselves to laugh about it. So don't beat yourself up.

Hey - wanna REALLY feel better about yourself? There was this time when it was pouring buckets and my mom was in a hurry to get in the house. My sister and her friend were in the backseat of our 2-door car, and when my mom stopped the car at the top of our (circular, 1000-foot-long dirt, no-neighbors-around) driveway she forgot to put the car in park. When she and I both got out and left our doors open a gust of wind propelled the not-in-park car down the driveway with her child and someone else's still in the backseat, and it crashed into a tree. No injuries, but my mom was completely traumatized. (So was my sister.)

I've only ever fallen down a flight of marble stairs with a 2-month-old in my arms, hitting her on the head. Or let that same child at 10.5 months pull a heavy bottomed candle off an end table and onto her foot, where she broke her toe. I also didn't bring her to the pediatrician for treatment for that last one, got chastised when I did bring her the following day, and then watched her take her first steps two days later. But I've never, ever forgotten to double-check that a carseat was actually buckled in when I've set off for a day's worth of errands. Well, except for those few times...


Fortunately as they get older, you start to forget your major parenting fails from when they were little. I can't think of any. At all. I know they are there, but besides the time I locked Jake in the car, with the keys, in the pouring rain, I can't remember.

Good thing he can't either, because he's bigger than me and could squash me like a bug.

You can still remember to buckle your child up and FAIL. I rear ended someone with my child in the car. We weren't going fast, it was raining very hard, my brakes were in need of replacement, but still. Luckily the airbags did not deploy and my car wasn't totaled. I did get him a new carseat. This was 5 months ago, and daily, my child reminds me not to hit anyone else's car. He's almost 3. And he will keep reminding me daily. Ouchie.

Oh yeah, I've done that. When Dahlia was in her infant seat! I don't even know HOW that happened, but it did. I *think* I've done okay ever since, but we're about to start round 2 so....ya never know....

We got tickets to the circus from a neighbor, and because the kids loved it so much the first time, we went again on a Wednesday night. Bump stayed home with the baby and my colleague and I took the big kids. As we were driving home - barreling down the Toll Road in the dark - the dome light came on unexpectedly.

Lula had opened the door.

This is not an issue in the van - she can't reach the handle from her seat. But she can reach the handle in my car, apparently, and she was curious.

Nothing bad happened, really, except that my colleague and I freaked right the fuck out and scared the poor child so much she spent the rest of the ride home hiding her face in her hands.

Does my car have child safety locks? Of course. Are they engaged? Well they are NOW.

Remind me to tell you about how we dropped Lumpyhead on his head. On the sidewalk. When he was 11 weeks old. (But make sure I'm drunk when you ask me about it, because it will probably make me cry.)

I posted about the 1 time I didn't completely strap in my youngest and got a flood of similar stories. Glad to know I wasn't alone.

I got distracted while strapping in my youngest (who was probably 9 months at the time). I did the plastic chest snap but forgot to put the metal buckles into the thing between her legs. I don't know how - I had never not done it before w/either child. I had driven about a mile when my 2 1/2 (at the time) started yelling at me to stop the car. I asked her why and she just kept telling me I had to stop. I was just freaked out enough by her tone to pull over and discovered the unstrapped straps then had a heart attack on the side of the road. Of course then my 2 1/2 year old thought such a reaction from mommy was fun and started telling me to pull over every time we left the house.

One of my crappiest moments was about a week ago when I was at the playground with Little Bear, Rafael and Pufferfish. I saw one of Monkeyboy's friends there and called her over to say hi. I was talking to her while, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little girl fall from one of those u-shaped monkeybar things. I saw it, but my brain didn't process it, and I just kept talking to Monkeyboy's friend. I saw a man go over there and pick up the little girl, and then the little girl ran towards me, crying. And, OMG, it was Pufferfish! She was wearing her hair different that day, and from the back she looked so much older... but jeez!!!!!

I don't think that's a parenting fail. Just a potential. Had you been in an accident AND had Owen been hurt, maybe a parenting fail.

Nothing happened, therefore no fail. You're a great mom!

Oh, Beth. You're being way too hard on yourself. Not thinking that seatbelts are important for your kids and insisting onthem is a major parenting fail. Forgetting once makes you human, which is good. I couldn't take reading a perfect mom's blog. :)

BTW Do you know how hard it is to comment here? I keep getting an error about non-existent recent comments - ugh!

I did that this week. And it wasn't a short trip... at least 10 min in the car. I felt horrid when I realized he wasn't buckled... like CPS should come in right then and haul him away. I slowed my heart rate back down to a normal pace and reminded myself that I was very lucky... nothing happened. Now double and triple checking is my top priority. From one lucky mom to another, I think we are still good moms ;~)

I did the "not buckled into the car seat thing" once per child. I guess our guardian angels were on duty that day! Just a humble human, here.

Hi! There is a new look over on my blog! Come take a peek and let me know what you think! Emily did an awesome job!

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