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.