We’ve all done it. We’ve all declared that we will never do something. And then, one day, we might find ourselves doing exactly that thing. Speaking as a mom now, I remember how as I child I swore that I would never do things my mom or my parents used to do. Then you become a mom and you have all those ideas in your head. Things you will never do. Things that annoy you when you see other moms doing it. Things you would do so much better. But will you really?
As the older child I often felt that my younger brother was allowed to do much more than me. And I swore that I would never do this to my kids. And I remember how my mom used to say things I swore I would never say to my kids. But of course you suddenly find yourself saying the exact same thing and maybe even in the exact same words. But I also understand now that you really don’t treat your kids that different. It has much more to do with the fact that you’ve been through something with your first one and because it was your first one you were stricter. Then when you reach the same point with your second child you kind of know that you’ve overreacted and you are a little bit more loose. And that might seem to the older child as if you prefer the younger one to the older one or as if the younger one is allowed to do more.
There are the “I’d never do this” that involve something dangerous and I do mean as a parent. It’s the “I would never leave my child in the car unattended”, or the “I would never not wear the safety leash or not use the break of the pram” to provide it from rolling off. The “I would never leave my kids unattended” or “I would never lose sight of my kids” or “My kids could never run off”.
Life teaches you differently.
As much as we decide and hope that we would never do that one thing, we might end up in a situation where we just quickly make a exception or we might just feel unable to stick to it. How often do you quickly put your toddler or baby in the car and you drive to a shop because you really need something and by the time you arrive, the baby is fast asleep? Do you wake your child or do you let it sleep? Especially when you can see the car from the inside and you know you will be in and out in no time.
I have to say that I’ve never left my kids in the car. But I was tempted. And I often questioned my decision to drag them out of the car seat and then into the pram, waking them, just to quickly grab something and then do it all over again the other way around.
We are quick to say never. Quick to judge others that do the things we would never do and maybe even have to pay the price because their child gets hurt while being in a car that overheats or maybe even gets stolen. We are quick to label them bad parents although they will suffer from it way more than we think they will.
Every single one of us for sure did something that you felt you would never do. And maybe even something that you still don’t really feel good about it.
There’s this playground my kids love to go to. It’s really fun for all age groups but the problem is that it’s hard to see where your kids are and there are too many corners someone could sneak them out from. Usually we’re at least three parents there and one of us does a round around the playground every so often, checking on the kids and we also always dress them in a bright t-shirt or jacket so we can see them from far. That day back then was different. I was there with a mom I did not know well and she had a very relaxed approach. The kind of approach that nothing ever happens. I was exhausted as we just got in from overseas a couple of days ago and jetlag had hit massively. My son decided to stay home with dad and I only realized when I arrived at the playground that my daughter was wearing a olive green top… I figured that I will just check on her more often.
But then I sat down on a bench in the sun with that mom. And we started talking. And I just didn’t get up. I have no clue for how long we were sitting there but suddenly her daughter comes over and asks if we had seen my little girl. I guess you can imagine how I felt in that very moment. I got up, sure that she would probably come over right then as well, looking for her friend. But she didn’t. And I couldn’t find her. I checked the roads on all sides of the park and on one of them a dark car was just about to leave. What if?
I walked around and through and was calling for her. Just when I felt the panic growing her head popped up from withing one of the little hiding spaces. They were playing hide and seek and the other girl just gave up on trying to find her. You have no clue how sick I felt in that moment. Sick and happy but bad for just being lazy and not doing my usual regular round. I felt guilty for just sitting there for at least an hour. I felt guilty for not dressing her in a bright shirt.
I don’t consider myself a helicopter parent. But I’m a careful parent. I think there are certain risks you can reduce by simply being alert. There is always a risk, always an “open window” for something to happen. That you can never entirely remove from your life, no matter how much you do to provide bad things to happen. You need a big portion of luck as well. That day I was lucky. Lucky that there was no creep around. Lucky that my daughter didn’t just wander off.
I’m aware that I’m usually the mom who wonders where the kids are. I’m the mom who tells my kids to make sure they can see me so I can see them. I’m the mom who tells them to stay together if they go further away. For some mothers it might seem weird. Maybe they tell themselves that they never want to be like me. And that’s kind of okay. It’s their family, their life, their kids. They need to know what works for them. The past simply taught me that only seeing the good in people might be tricky. That sometimes you need to think of the bad things that might happen in order to prevent them from happening.
I do say “I would never do this” still. And I for sure make an effort to stick to it. But I know that sometimes it’s hard to stick to it and sometimes you might just not be able to. There are so many stories I hear about things that happen to kids because the parents did do something or didn’t and I admit in moments like this I do think “I’d never done this”. Or I struggle to understand why they did or didn’t do something. But I also know that maybe in some moments I was just lucky. Lucky nothing happened.
A couple of years ago there was this story in the Swiss news. The story about a mom who walked her baby in the pram along a little river. I don’t remember why she stopped and turned around and let go of the pram. Maybe she was on the phone, maybe her shoe laces came loose. Maybe she had to pick something up. Maybe she was trying to get rid of a bee or a wasp. But she turned around, let go of the pram and because the ground was uneven the pram started rolling and went straight into the river. Although she reacted right away she could get a hold of it and unfortunately the baby died.
I had the plan that I would never not wear that safety leash of the pram and would never not use the break when I stop somewhere. But I did. I used that leash. But not always. And my usual walk had a really steep part to it. Looking back so much could have gone wrong. Especially in the colder months when the road could be slippery. It’s so easy to get distracted, so easy to lose your grip.
My advice to a friend of mine or my kids would always be: Never say never as you never know…
Inspired by the Daily Post Daily Prompt – Well, I Never…