I do this all the time. I leave my kids alone in the car for a minute when they are strapped in and we are in my driveway because I need to run in and get my cell phone that I left on the charger.
I leave my kids in their car seats while we are in the garage (car off) when I’m unable to quickly pee before schlepping 26 bags, 2 kids and my Contigo coffee mug into the car.
I leave my kids in the car seats as I unload groceries from my trunk organizers and put them at my doorstep, walking away from the car for a few minutes each time until I am ready to let the monkeys…er… I mean kids loose.
And with the many crazy cases of neglect and even stuff that didn’t sound like abuse but was labeled it, or the stuff that you shuddered thinking about because it was soooo sad, we need to figure this out mommas. We need to use our strong mommy brain power and come to an agreement on what the heck is ok or not ok here.
Let’s get something straight. I am not an advocate for the parents who have intentionally left their innocent children in cars on hot Alabama sun drenched days for hours in a Wal-Mart parking lot while shopping…where their car temperate escalated to 105 degrees F and their children passed away of heat stroke. Nor I am not commenting on the unfortunate life or mental circumstances that lead some parents to actually forget that their children were in their back seat on a cold winter morning where the temperate dropped to minus frost forming degrees in New Jersey and they went into work forgetting to drop their kids to preschool.
And speaking of New Jersey, I am thinking about that mom from New Jersey as I write this. The one whose toddler daughter was left in the car on a 60 degree May day while she ran into a Dollar Store for a measly few minutes a few years ago. When she got back, there were security guards and police there which launched her into a 6-year legal battle. But luckily, there was a unanimous decision where she got a hearing to plead her case, (which had been previously denied). Then she won her 6-year legal battle, and that mom, Kim Brooks, managed to get off with 100 hours of community service and a parenting education class.
But can you imagine?
I may not run into a store and leave my child in the car but I’m going to be transparent and tell you something and please don’t call the cops on me.
I needed to pick up mail from the UPS store the other day. My little guy had fallen asleep after his gymnastics class and the thought of waking him up stressed me out so I left my toddler son in the seat, parked right in front of the UPS front door. I ran in to my mailbox, never taking my eyes off my car because I could still see it, but my heart was pounding through my chest the whole time. I live in SoCal by the ocean, where it’s generally breezy and 70 degrees year round. It was one of those days. I wasn’t worried about him overheating for 45 seconds or getting cold or not having enough air to breathe through my open sun roof. I was worried about someone seeing him inside and calling the cops. As I ran back to my car in Olympic style speed, I made it. I made it before someone judged me for leaving him, before someone blamed me for child neglect, before someone told me I was a bad mom. Heck I even dropped a flyer from my mail pile on the ground that I didn’t run back for. The environmentalist in my was feeling sick but the fear was in full force. I couldn’t leave the car again like that, not even for the flyer that may have had great coupons on it.
This is the age we are parenting in.
So I’m here to say something to the moms who are like me and know they are damn good moms, even when, excuse my language, sh*t hits the fan. You are LOVE day in and day out and do your best.
If you have to run into the house because you forgot your checkbook, it’s ok. Leave your kids in the car and get it, you are still a good mom.
If you are dropping a letter in the mailbox and your baby fell asleep, it’s ok, leave the car and put the letter in the box and even take a deep breath while you are at it as you walk back into your car. You are still a good mom.
If you see a kid happy and smiling in the car parked at your dry cleaners parking lot and maybe even see a dad walking out of the cleaners and back to his car, nod at him and smile instead of calling the cops. You get it.
This is different from if you see a child screaming in a car by himself in the last row at Target’s parking lot. This is different if you live in Texas and the air is so thick you can see it when it’s hot and you see a child left alone inside a steaming car.
And for those of you who grew up as latch key kids of immigrant parents like I did, you know that fear in that mommy’s eyes as she lightning bolts into the pizza place to grab her online ordered pre-paid pizza pie while her 7-year-old waits in their locked car out front just feels so unnecessary nowadays.
Where’s the compassion?
No fear. Let’s focus on a culture of compassion instead. Think of the circumstance we see and if they are warranting for us to act upon them or not…before we run to tattle tale. Again, I’m not condoning extreme situations where kids are in danger. I’m just trying to prevent those extreme family battle situations for the good moms (and dads) out there.