Saturday, March 1, 2014
"Thank God: I Can't Do This Parenting Thing Alone."
"Thank God: I Just Can't Do This Parenting Thing Alone"
By Anna Giattina Lee
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and my brain goes from 0 to sixty in 0.4 seconds.
Yesterday, I woke up an hour earlier than normal with a panicked feeling that I had left my 5-year-old asleep in the freezing cold car overnight.
I had driven home from church last night in our 15-passenger van filled with children that fell asleep during the ½ hour ride home. I am fairly cautious because I am not dumb enough to believe that I would never get distracted or change my routine, accidentally forgetting a child in the car.
But after a mental playback in my head, I distinctly recalled giving him my ipad for his nightly video ritual. I also knew that I had made a visual check of the many sleeping kids in the car when we got home from church and that with only one remaining, I saw my husband unbuckle the baby and out of an abundance of caution, I reminded him to make a visual check of all the seats one more time before closing the doors.
Persuaded that this was not one of “those” times when I was specifically being called to act immediately, I was able to go back to sleep for another hour.
As soon as I woke up, I went straight to the kitchen to begin making breakfast. I noticed that my 5 –year-old wasn’t in the kitchen. So I asked where he was. My husband said, “He’s still in bed.”
Unconvinced, I said, “Have you personally seen him because I woke up with the feeling that I had left him in the car.”
Pausing for just a moment, he says with confidence, “He is definitely in his bed.” A few others joined in claiming that dad was right and I believed them.
Realizing I had a teachable moment, I talked to the kids, including my 4-year-old granddaughter who had spent the night with us. We talked briefly about watching out for each other to be sure that we all get out of the car.
My 10–year-old asked, “What do we do if the doors are locked?”
Almost in disbelief, I look at her and say, “You reach over and unlock the door. “
She laughed saying, “I’ve never thought about that before.”
At that moment I realized that the technology had skewed her understanding. She always waited for me to unlock the doors and it didn’t occur to her that you could do it another way.
My husband was not in the room during this conversation. It was a short conversation – more of a reminder than anything else.
But my brain was clearly fixed on this idea. Images of a child left in the car by her mother or father reeled in my mind. I have done it myself more than once – although for just minutes. I know one person who endured this heart-wrenching loss. And as an attorney, I am always thinking about what is reasonably foreseeable.
Fast forward 30 minutes. It is time for my husband to take the kids to school. My granddaughter Ava asks if she can ride along. Five kids get into the car for the 2-minute ride to school.
Less than 10 minutes later, my husband walks into the house while I’m folding the laundry and comes directly to where I am. Without any thought, my first question is “Where’s Ava?”
With a somewhat stunned expression, I see his brain trying to process what I’m saying. I shout, “She’s in the car. She’s locked in the car. Run. Run. She is going to be terrified. “
My husband bolts to the parking pad, unlocking the doors with the remote and running to open the door. Inside is our granddaughter, tiny tears just beginning to stream down her cheeks. We grab her and hold her tightly, apologizing for leaving her behind.
When she gets back inside, I rock her and tell her that everything is fine and that God has protected her by prompting me.
The entire incident from locking her in to retrieving her occurred in less than 2 minutes. But it was that two minutes that convinced me that God is looking out for his children far better than me or my husband are capable of doing.
With the memory still fresh, we talk about why she didn’t get out of the car. In her tiny little voice, she squeaks, “I tried, but Papa locked the door with the remote.”
I know that she had just heard us talk about this exact situation, but it was too abstract for her. So we took her back to the car and showed her how to unlock the car from the inside. And how, if the child locks were on, she could always get out through the driver's door. Confident and with a smile, she came back inside realizing that she could escape if it ever happened again.
The whole situation is so predictable. There was a change in my husband’s routine. The one he has followed for years. An extra child. Young. Unusually quiet. And one who didn’t know how to unlock the doors from the inside.
I don’t blame my husband. And no one should. There, but for the grace of God, go I.
And I hope you know that is not the point. Rather, it is to say, that this episode is one of many that persuade me that I can’t do this parenting thing without God. It is simply too hard. Too many things can go wrong.
But he’s got my back.
This isn’t the first time I have been awakened from a deep sleep by a compelling feeling. And I’ve learned to listen. I must. Or I’m an idiot.