Motherhood Personal Posts

My Worst Parenting Moment/the Day that Took 10 Years Off My Life

My Worst Parenting Moment To Date

I wasn’t sure I wanted to share this but thought it might help someone. So, I’m writing it, not re-reading it, and publishing it without second guessing myself. I should have known better. The child in this story, who took at least 10 years off my life on this fateful day, is the reason we have chain locks on all our exterior doors. A few years ago, I made the mistake of using the bathroom, heard the door open, and before I could even pull my pants up, he was in the front yard. Anyone who comes to our house must think we live in an unsafe area, but it’s to keep people in, not out.

I thought things were getting better. In the grocery store, he’d ride in the toddler Tula on my back, in a car cart or walk beside me. I even had an older gentleman stop me one day to tell me how impressed he was that my son was so well behaved, walking right beside me.

Today, I took my kids (11.5/E, 7/J, 4.5/B) and E’s friend (11) to Adventure Park. In the arcade, B kept wandering away from me (usually I’d find him 5 seconds later sitting in one of the car racing games) so I was following him around, causing J to leave his money in games because he didn’t want to be even 5 steps away from me.

J & B were in line for a ride inside the arcade, so I went about 25 feet away (still in the arcade, right at the enclosure gate for the ride) to put money on E’s game card. Looked up and J was on the ride so I looked at the other cars for B. Not there.

I wander around the whole arcade looking in every game three times. Gather the other kids and say we all need to look for him. Go out of the arcade and see him about to walk outside (in the back where the rides are) with a woman.

Yelled for him & scooped him up & the woman told me he’d walked out the front DOOR. THE FRONT DOOR, down the steps and was getting ready to go in the parking lot, so she got out of her car and brought him in.

I was totally, completely beside myself. I had taken my eyes off him for under a minute. I know it’s not my other kids’ job to watch their siblings but why didn’t J tell me B had left the line? What on earth possessed him to just leave like that?

I am the worst mother ever. I feel awful.

I still have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. He has always been fearless and a bit of a wanderer, but not like this. I’m hoping that it scared him enough that he won’t do it again. He didn’t seem upset but he started crying when he saw how upset I was.

I realized that I haven’t reiterated enough what to do if one of my kids gets lost. I told him if you ever lose sight of me, STAY WHERE YOU ARE! Usually I tell my kids they need to stay where they can see me (in the grocery store, places like Chuck E Cheese etc), rather than where I can see them since they don’t know if I can see them.

There was a post in a group asking moms to share their worst moments in parenting, after the parents in recent tragedies were torn apart. I really couldn’t think of anything. I tend to be hypervigilant and overly concerned about my children’s safety and I guess I’ve just been lucky so far. Today could have ended very differently if it weren’t for the saint that brought my son back inside.

I deserve all the criticism I’ll get for assuming I was safe to leave him in line with his brother for a minute, but hope it reminds other parents that it only takes a minute and things like this can happen to anyone.

What has been your worst parenting moment?


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Maria Moser
Maria is the mother of 3, writing about cloth diapers & going green. You'll often find her with a dog or child on her lap, typing 1-handed in between sips of cold coffee. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
8 Comments
  • Katie S
    August 15, 2016 at 5:42 pm
    Reply

    Oh, I have so many… 🙁 I used to often bring our double stroller into our apartment and leave it set up because we used it at least twice a day. Two of my boys climbed up onto it and I knew I should go tell them to get off of it before someone got hurt, but I didn’t because I was trying to get something (unimportant) done. Sure enough, they tipped it over and my son’s (2 1/2 or 3 years old? I can’t remember at the moment) teeth went through his bottom lip when he fell. He has a scar. I have a hard time forgiving myself for that… 🙁

    • August 15, 2016 at 8:08 pm
      Reply

      My 11-year old had stitches when she was not quite two and I have it on video because she was being cute. She was spinning and singing ring around the rosy, then staggered and face planted in the bed frame. 🙁 That was my worst parenting moment before the day I lost my son!

  • August 11, 2016 at 3:35 pm
    Reply

    BIG HUGS! For the record, I don’t judge you AT ALL (but I also don’t doubt how scary that was!). My oldest isn’t a wanderer but has been in speech therapy for years and is still hard for people to understand. My fear has always been that if we got separated at Legoland or something, people wouldn’t understand him if he asked for help or said what his name is. They have LOTS of watch-looking devices these days with varying levels of features, but one of the cheaper ones (since it doesn’t require GPS) will sound an alarm to alert you if it goes out of Bluetooth range of your phone. It sounds like maybe that would be helpful for your kiddo!

    • August 11, 2016 at 4:44 pm
      Reply

      That is totally genius. I’ll have to look into it!

  • Amy
    August 10, 2016 at 11:54 pm
    Reply

    You’re not alone, mama. I’ve had THREE heart-stopping moments with my oldest. Once in the pool when he was five and couldn’t swim yet, once when he was three and wandered out of the store because the person I thought had ahold of him didn’t, and once when he was two and fell down a flight of stairs because I was chasing after his younger cousin to keep her from doing the same. Each time I had my eyes off of him for less than thirty seconds.

    At the time I of course felt like a monster, but looking back I don’t think these instances (mine or anyone else’s) are a reflection of how good a parent you are. It’s just bad luck. I mean, even if you only have one kid to wrangle, unless you’re going to have them literally tethered to you at all times there will always be the chance that you choose to blink at exactly the worst time. Multiply that by about a bajillion for each additional kid, and you’ve basically got the marhematical equation for worry lines and grey hair.

    • Amy
      August 10, 2016 at 11:56 pm
      Reply

      mathematical*

  • August 10, 2016 at 10:40 pm
    Reply

    My children are runners! I look people on the eye and say “see this one? He’s a runner, help me keep an eye on him.” Because Yes! I totally agree, it only takes a second! We were st LEGO Kidsfest which was really overcrowded and disorganized. I’m was looking at my 4 year old and I literally blinked and he was gone. He followed another boy next to him to another table and I couldn’t find him. I then realized the convention was surrounded by exit doors with no security. An entire wall of exit doors! I found a security officer who looked dumbfounded when I told her he was missing. Maybe a minute or two passed but it felt like an eternity. The parents and the other boy quickly found him. We put him back in the double stroller and went to Tarhet to buy LEGOs. We too have chains to keep the kids in. It can literally happen in the blink of an eye and it’s terrifying. I have trouble thinking about it to this day. ❤️

  • Julie
    August 10, 2016 at 10:03 pm
    Reply

    That’s it? That’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to your kids?

    I am positive that it was an earth shaking experience for you. However, I consider myself to be a pretty good mom and I’ve done so much worse. Cut yourself some slack hon.

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