Friday, April 16, 2010

Am I a bad mother?

I believe without a doubt that the answer to this question is NO. A very, very, very firm no. I am no where near perfect. I makes millions of mistakes with my kids a day. I'm positive that I am screwing them up irreparably. I think we all do this to our children. :) But I'm doing the best I can. And when I know I'm failing, I try something new and do better. I believe that even on my worst day I am a good mother.

Why am I telling you all this? Because today, someone called the cops on my parenting. Seriously. This may be another controversial topic. But I'm posting it not only because I genuinely want the opinions of women that I respect, but also because I really do believe that you will validate me.

Early this afternoon I ran to the grocery store with the kids. Just inside the automatic glass doors is a redbox machine. I was returning a couple of movies. I parked in the very first parking space in the center of the lot, just in front of the doors. My windows were rolled down. My kids were buckled into their carseat and booster. I turned off the car and ran in to return the movie.

***GASP*** YES! I left the kids in the car. I was in the store for 1, MAYBE 2 minutes. I could see and hear my children the entire time.

When I left, after I was around the block I was pulled over. Someone had called the police and reported me for leaving the kids. The officer explained what had happened and informed me that he wanted to make me aware of child safety.

I explained to them that I could see and hear the kids, they were in their seats, I was in there for 2 minutes or less, etc. He asked the children's ages. I told him 5 and almost 3. He said he had seen 3 year olds wander in parking lots before. I explained that my son was buckled into his 5 point harness carseat belt and couldn't get out. He said that I could brush this off but that if I did it again it was likely someone would call again and that I would be talked to again. Legally he couldn't do anything but talk to me. He was just doing his job. I stood my ground.

Personally, I don't believe I was even remotely endangering my kids. And this is not the first or last time I have done this. When I run in to pay for gas, when I drop something off at a friend's house, etc. Maybe you think I'm wrong. I strongly disagree.

Let me add that I do understand where this caller is coming from. I understand that it is not safe to leave children unattended in car. Heat, strangers, wandering, etc are all dangers. But I was making sure none of those things were factors. I could see the kids, they were buckled in, and the windows were down. (Besides, it's April and where I live we get SNOW in JUNE.)

I have seen children left in cars and been concerned before. But if I was concerned enough to do anything I have waited and watched. Generally a parent shows up within a minute or two and I don't worry about it and go on with my own business. If this caller had done that there wouldn't have been a problem. You see, the police officer didn't even have time to get to the store. And we live in a TINY town. This is the only grocery store. He didn't have far to go. He had to track me down and check my plates.

Anyway, you get my point. So what do you think? Am I just flat out wrong? And be honest. It really won't hurt my feelings if you disagree.

15 comments:

Tiffany said...

you're not wrong at all. but unfortunately, we live in an over-paranoid, and over-evil society. i heard of a woman that left her kids in the car to get something out for the DI drop off (she was next to the car the entire time), and the cops were called on her and she got in trouble. i've also heard of a woman who was in the shower, and one of her kids got out the door and went across the street to an elementary school... she is still fighting to get her kids back from social services. so i don't believe you were wrong, however, i would recommend you don't do it again. it's more scary who is out there and what can happen to mothers... not who is going to take your kids, or they are going to die of heat. i think the law system is scarier. they can take kids away for the tiniest things... the things we all do every day. so even though it seems ridiculous, take your kids in with you. to protect them from being taken from you, or you from going to jail. seriously. sad we have to live like that. but it's only going to get worse with the government taking everything over eventually. :) my husband had a woman come up to him in a costco parking lot in arizona, asking cameron is tyler was his dad... because cameron was having a screaming fit, freaking out because he didn't get something he wanted. so tyler took him out to the car, all while cameron was resisting and fighting, kicking and screaming. she thought he was being abducted. and she talked to cameron, while he ignored her... and she sat and stared for 5 minutes before leaving. i was glad she didn't call the cops. scary stuff!

Burgon Fam said...

Really... I agree with you...I mean its like you said...I compare it to when you have to go inside to pay for gas...if cash is all you got you got to do it, but your still going to be careful about it...your going to roll the windows down so you can hear them...your taking you keys with you so no one takes off with them.....you didnt do it in the dead of summer or the dead of winter. I dont think any of us ever truly feel comfortable "leaving" our children...but i believe you were being as careful and as qiuck as you can about it. Whats interesting is that they, (the person watching you and the person that called the cops) didnt even give you the two min it took you to go in, to be sure it was an "unsafe" situation. like they dont have kids! And chances are THEY DONT HAVE KIDS!

r said...

Oh man, this is a toughie. I don't think you were wrong and I don't think the caller was wrong (better safe than sorry, right?). As a rule I'd say don't, but I've done it myself. If I'd been pulled over and chastised by a cop, I don't think I'd do it again, but I know there would come a time when it would be REALLY inconvenient not to.

Tara said...

I totally support you!! Gosh I worry more when i get in the shower about what my kids will do or could happen if someone knocks on the door. At best we try to be with our children at all times. This is not reality. We can't nor should we have to take all our kids 5 feet within sight of vehicle to perform a 2 minute task. There are parents that lack proper judgement that have made it hard for the rest of us. When I have left kids in car I always take keys. I know there are car jackers out there...in every community. Use your best judgement, of course follow the law but know you are a good mother. We all do the best we can.

Jason & Kelli West said...

I did it the other day (gasp) i know. But It literally took me 2 minutes and I had my eye on them the whole time. I even parked in handicapp (again bad I know-but there was another right next to it open). NOW saying that I do have a friend that got fined with a midemeanor because sheleft her 7 and 5 year old in her car where she could see it, with the AC on and they were buckled in their seat. I mean a 7 (almost 8) year old. A lady saw her walk in to the place and called the cops. She said the cop was pretty hard on her. She said he made her feel like the worst mom in the world. NOW my opinion on this or what goes on in my head isif I can see them, and am keeping dibs on everything that is happening around my car than it is ok. I would like to see the officer or the lady who calls and reports take 2 babies into the store for a 2 minute errand. I am sure they would have done the same thing. All in all I am split down the middle on it. You never know the crazies out there. I think you are a GREAT MOM McKenna. DOnt beat yourself up.

Hilary, Ben, Ella and Ethan said...

I am 100% on your side on this topic. It absolutely infuriates me that people will go to the extreme of calling the cops before they assess the situation. I feel so strongly about this that I almost dedicated a post to it a while back. There was a WY women a few months back that had her children taken away temporarily because the employees of the business she was visiting didn't have the decency to talk to her first about leaving her children in the car before calling the cops. I won't go on and on, but people need to mind their own DAM business!! If you were full on doing your grocery shopping, that's a different story, I could totally understand, but good grief people, give a woman a break!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kathlen said...

I personally would never leave my kids in the car, but I don't think that you were in the wrong. Keep up the good work!!

The Larson Family said...

I'm on the fence on this one. It totally depends on the situation. I am glad that there are concerned citizens out there looking out for our kids, but was that lady really concerned or just wanting to get you in trouble? It seems like the second one in this case. I usually try to bring my kids in with me, but sometimes, especially where you are where it's not even hot or anything, it makes more sense to leave them. Especially if you are watching them. Here in AZ you actually can get a huge fine for leaving your kids in the car, but it's also much more dangerous to do that here for a number of reasons. Anyway, I think you're a good mom, and if you felt it was safe to leave them then I believe it was.

Sara said...

I love Tiffany's comment. I admit to having done border-line things, but never thought of the risk of having my children taken away. I always thought only of the immediate risk - that they weren't going to be abducted while I paid for gas, or die of heat or whatever, but the risk of having the government take them from me is very real. Thanks, Tiffany, whoever you are. :)

Lindsay said...

Holy crap! I would get pulled over almost on a daily basis. I am like you, if I can see and here and make sure the dangers of all that are not a factor I will run in for a just a minute. Infact the other day I had to run to the store just to buy eggs and I knew that I would be so fast because it is just aroung the corner. I had already had a morning with Kaden and he was persistent that he was not going to the store with me. So I left him home. Told him not to answer the phone or door, and to stay on the couch watching tv. I called the house phone with my cell and had him hold and leave it on the whole time so that I could here what was going on. Turns out everything was fine and I made it home in record time. I could imaigne what the cops would say to me about that!! But I think you are a wonderful mom! Don't you ever forget it!

Scott+Kimber+Ruby=Scimby said...

I cant believe someone called the cops on you! Growing up, my mom would ALWAYS leave us in the car to run into a gas station or into the store really quick. We knew to keep the doors locked and we were totally fine. I understand this person's concern for your kid's safety, but seriously?! I think what she did was a bit much. I see nothing wrong with running a quick errand if you can see and hear your kids the entire time. Beside, what a HASSLE to unbuckle your two kids to return a video, then had to re-buckle them two minutes later!

Tabitha said...

*ahem* My husband and I both read your post and looked at each other an laughed. In situations such as that we do it too.
Yes there are things to be aware of and lines that shouldn't be crossed. In your case and in the cases that we have left our children in the car no lines where crossed.
We think it's ridiculous. On your side 100%

vaneblu said...

I just went thru' your blog (the whole thing, yes I am that weird!) and had fun seeing some of your older pics and post!!
You have some seriously cute kids!!!!

Nic said...

I got the piggy bank at Target 2 years ago I have seen similar ones at Michaels here in Orem - you would just need to paint it pink.

Trish Griffee said...

I have left my 7 year olf the car with the two little ones but I don't anymore. Even if I can see them I just know I could never forgive myself if anything happened to them. It's not worth the risk. I am not an over paranoid mom but I am realistic to the evil that surrounds us. I leave all errands where I'm not willing to drag the babies in until the hubby is home and the babies are in bed and I have found that I really enjoy the time to myself:)