By Erickka Sy Savané
I was reading an article recently about a South Carolina dad whose 8-month-old baby died after being left in a hot car all day. We hear these stories and wonder how this could happen? Actually, statistics show that it happens to the tune of 36 babies dying each year in the United States. We also wonder, who could do such a thing? Well…I did. Thankfully, my baby didn’t die, and I was able to learn some valuable life lessons as a result.
Who left their baby in the car? I think to myself, wondering who could be so thoughtless when suddenly I scream, “ME!”
All I could think about while running past the parade of curious stares from mom’s is, “I hope she’s okay.” I knew it was only a couple of minutes, but she was only 4 months old, and again, it was hot as hell. I got there, relieved to see her sitting peacefully in her car seat as if she hadn’t a care in the world. By now, a few moms I knew were there, trying to assure me that it was okay, the most important thing was that she was okay. I was a mess. Not sloppy, crying, pathetic mess, but clearly shaken, and extremely embarrassed…Once I knew I was good, I strapped my eldest daughter into her seat and we drove away, on all four wheels this time.
This happened 5 ½ years ago and now that time has passed, I’m able to see the lessons that I learned from it. I share it now because there are moms, and dads, out there who might be on the brink of making a serious mistake, or have already screwed up royally and need to know that there’s life after.
Before this happened to me I thought that only murderers and irresponsible people left their babies in the car. Knowing that I love my child and would never intentionally hurt her, I now know different. Never think that you’re above making a crucial mistake and give others the same level of compassion that you would want in a similar situation. Because the truth is, you never know when something like this might happen to you. No one starts their day saying, ‘I’m going to do something to harm someone I love.’
Take time to de-stress.
We all have signs that we’re doing too much whether it be forgetting to turn the pot off on the stove or showing up late everywhere. This was my sign that I needed to take it down a thousand, smell the roses and re-group. I began to pay more attention to when I was feeling overwhelmed and in need of self-care. Finding time for yourself as a mom isn’t easy, but it’s critical.
As long as I was still hammering myself daily about what I did the train couldn’t leave the station and I stayed stuck. Once I was able to say, ‘I’m human, and I’m not going to do everything perfect,’ I was free. Free to be a better person and better mom. We can only do our best as parents and when we fail, learn from our missteps.
Talk about it
No one wants to be the mom who left her baby in the car, but that’s who I was and once I was able to talk about it I got to see that I wasn’t the only one who had done messed up things. Making such a big acknowledgement created the space for others to talk about their shortcomings and I bonded more with my family and friends. I got to see that we’re all out here doing the best we can and it’s a blessing to have a family.