Monday, June 28, 2010

Glass Houses

Before I had children I was definitely the one rolling my eyes when people brought their kids into an "adult restaurant". I was the one cringing when a family would board a plane with young kids. I never understood why anyone would care about someone else's kids enough to stick their Christmas photo card on the fridge. In fact, I never understood why anyone would bother to send a Christmas card like that! I was quite the Scrooge when it came to kids.

And now? Now I do almost nothing that doesn't have something to do with my children. Now, just about every one of my friends are "mom friends". I'm one of those people who send those Christmas cards and I hang up every single one I get from others, marveling at every child's changing features from year to year.  I can't even see a movie in which a child might be hurt (or God forbid, die). I have become a complete softie. 

The fact that I care so much about children, and pay so much attention to the effects our actions have on them, has made me sometimes very judgmental of others. But why do I do it I wondered? It's kind of like when you're in the supermarket checkout line and you look at the cart of the person in front of you and you think: "What the hell are you doing buying canned fruit??? Do you even know what a vegetable is? Why would you load up on Velveeta?" Somehow it makes you feel a tiny bit superior. What do you get out of that moment's ego boost? Nothing really. It's a bit like eating that Velveeta. Empty.

There are always those horror stories in the paper about people who leave their children in the car on a hot day and I often think to myself "how can you possibly forget your kid in the car?! What kind of parent would do that?"  Yep.  Judgment. Lots of judgments.

Sunday morning, after we took our kids to their baseball class we rushed to get back home (after dealing with children whining, dragging feet, and fighting in the car) to find ourselves late to meet friends waiting on our lawn for a play date we had scheduled. In the confusion, I got out and rushed to open the gate to our back yard, I thought my husband got both of our kids out of the car....he only got one out and thought I got the other. He headed upstairs to get something, I headed to the yard with our son and guests thinking he had taken our daughter upstairs. Only when he came back to the yard 20 minutes later did we realize our daughter was not with anyone. Complete panic set in as I rushed out to the front of the house. My first thought was that she had wandered off during the commotion when we first got home, but someone yelled out "Is she still in the car?" and as I opened the door to see her tear stained face and red eyes, I began to cry myself. She just whimpered to me "You took a long time!" and clung to me as I got her out.

My baby girl thankfully was just fine and hasn't mentioned it since. So no psychological scars to deal with. But it really shook me up. And made me reevaluate not only how caught up in my own stress I get sometimes, but how much I might judge someone who did what I did. We don't always know the full story about why or how something happened. I like to think I am actually a very compassionate person (and I usually am), that I see the big picture, that I give people the benefit of the doubt. In that moment that I realized I had forgotten our precious daughter strapped in her car seat, I also realized that I would be judged; perhaps most harshly by myself. 

I think, perhaps, that scare has taught me a lot. For one, I need to slow down and focus on what really is important in the moment. Second, I need to slow down my reaction to what others do or say and remember that everyone is doing their best. As the old adage goes: People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Most of all, Sunday morning taught me to be very, very grateful for every moment I have with my family. That one thought has helped me have less frustration and less impatience with our children. Our daughter wouldn't let me leave after she was in bed last night: "I want you to stay and watch me dream", she whispered. There are nights, believe it or not, where I am so tired and so over the long day that I tell her no, she has to go to bed. Last night, I sat beside her, rubbed her back and watched her dream. I am a very lucky mommy.


Thank you for reading!
-Gina
The Twin Coach


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Jackie said...

I am crying reading your post. Truly frightening! As parents we all know that sudden heart jolt you get when your child goes missing (even just for a moment), or if they fall, or if anything happens to them. It literally brings you to your knees.

How brave and honest of you to share your story and your thoughts about this heart wrenching experience.

I'll hug my son a little closer tonight too.

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