July 19, 2011

My First “Worst Mother in the World” Moment

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 11:08 pm by Tamara

I had my first “I am the worst mother in the world” moment while we were in Colorado.  Adam could only get a few days off, so I flew out with Rean several days before him.  Of course, before a wedding everything is craziness!  There was a lot to get done, but Rean still needed his mommy.  I ended up feeling guilty because I wasn’t helping as much as I wanted to, and guilty that I couldn’t get to Rean as fast as he was used to me being there for him.

Well, by the time we got to the reception, poor baby was just overwhelmed by everything.  I’d barely held him all day, which I think left him feeling discombobulated and upset.  Adam and I had gotten lost driving to the reception and showed up late (well done, maid of honor) so I was upset about that.  Berean really needed to eat, but he wouldn’t take his bottle and it’s not so easy to nurse in a bridesmaid’s dress in the middle of a reception.  I felt so stressed and so torn trying to divide my attention between his needs and everything else that needed to get done and people that I needed to say hi to.  I finally found a back room where Adam could guard the door, and Rean ate and fell asleep like the sweet baby he is.

And then my bad-mommy-ness really began.   It was the end of the night, Adam wanted to dance, and Rean was asleep in his car seat, so I asked someone if they’d keep an eye on Rean while we danced.  We danced one song, and then it was time to send off the bride and groom.  There were supposed to be candles to pass out, but it hadn’t been done yet, so Adam and I ran over to try and help.  Everyone got their candles lit and we went outside to light the path as the bride and groom left for their honeymoon.  After they were gone I came back inside to collect candles and hug goodbye to the people I hadn’t seen in years and barely spoken to the whole night.

And then…I realized it.  I had left Berean inside.  Alone.  While all the rest of us were outside, Rean was sitting in his car seat, right next to the back door, with no one watching him.  And not only had I left him, I hadn’t even THOUGHT about him before I’d gone outside.  And not only that, but I didn’t even realize I’d left him until my Dad realized we’d left him and said something.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sick with horror and fear at a mistake.  It would have been SO easy for someone to grab him, car seat and all, and slip out the back door.  One of the catering staff even came by once I was back by Rean and commented how surprised she was to see a baby all alone in the room (translation: “What kind of a mother are you??”)

Well, that was about it for me.  I was exhausted and feeling sick thinking about what could have happened and furious at myself and just wanted to grab my baby and sit down and cry.  I already had been feeling guilty for days for neglecting him, and this was about as neglectful as you can get.  I can’t think of a much worse thing you can do as a mother than put your child in danger.  Everyone else was cleaning up, but I moved Rean into a corner and just crouched down next to him and watched him sleep.  I’d been putting him down all week to do other things, and I was done!

On the drive home I insisted on sitting in the back seat next to him, and I spent the whole drive down the mountain verbally flogging myself to Adam.  How is it that I can feel a compulsive need to check every five minutes and make sure he’s breathing, but I can completely forget about him and leave him all alone?  Being so scared about “what could have happened” suddenly made me see with perfect clarity what I should have understood the moment Berean was born: God has made this little baby my number one responsibility right now, and it’s perfectly okay to sacrifice other things so that I can take care of him.

Adam agreed with me that it’s really hard to switch our mentality to that.  We’re both used to the idea that you’re supposed to find ways to help and be useful, not just sit in the corner.  But now, God has entrusted us with a little life, a little soul.  And right now, more than he ever will, Rean needs his mommy.  Adam and Berean are more important to me than anything else, and it’s okay for me to act like it.  If people are annoyed that I’m sitting in a corner holding my baby, does it really matter?  (And I honestly think everyone there understood, anyway.)  I believe God has called me to take care of Rean, and now it’s up to me to do whatever I feel like I need to do to care for him.  I’m not saying this means I won’t do anything but be a mommy, but I am passionate about taking care of him, and that means I have to say no to anything that I feel will keep me from doing that.

I know this is only going to get harder as Berean gets older, especially if Adam and I go into full time ministry.  There will be a million good things we could spend our time and energy on, and undoubtedly people who will criticize us for not doing what they think we should.  I’m a people-pleaser, and I’m also prideful.  I want people’s approval.  But more than that, I want to take care of the most precious gift God has ever given me: my family.  And I strongly believe that family is ministry, and that I have no right to mentor other people if I’m not mentoring the child(ren) God has entrusted me with.  I am going to have to learn to say “No” to the good so I can say “Yes” to the most important.

Something else became crystal clear that I should have already gotten: even with all my best efforts, ultimately God will have to take care of Berean.  By His grace, nothing happened.  And it’s only by His grace that my sweet baby is still breathing when I check on him for the twentieth time every night.  I’m going to do everything I can to protect and nurture this little boy, but ultimately he is in God’s hands.  And, ultimately, he couldn’t be in a better place.

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4 Comments »

  1. Abby Schultz said,

    Awww!!! I cannot imagine, but I am thankful you wrote this so when it happens to me, I can remember I’m not insane. When my brother was 1 year old, my parents, brother and I went to my cousins house. Well, I never got him out of his car seat ( i was 10) because my mom always did. But, for some reason my mom got distracted and so my dad and I assumed when she was done talking she’d get him….. and then we all found ourselves inside. About 45 minutes later, mom wondered why she hadn’t heard my brother—we looked everywhere and couldn’t find him. Finally, they checked the car. It was a super hot day and she found a soaking wet, sobbing baby kicking and screaming.

    We all cried and cried and never left him out of our sight for days. It was bad, but I think something similar happens to most mommys :)

    • Tamara said,

      Oh my heart! You poor things!! I’m sure you were even more traumatized than he was. So scary! It’s amazing how you can lose your head and do something you think you’d never do. I heard someone say to always leave your purse, cell phone, etc in the back seat so you don’t forget the baby, so I’ve started doing that. Hopefully I would quickly notice that one of them was missing!

  2. mary said,

    Wonderful post and so timely for me as we are entering this new chapter of our lives in full time ministry.

  3. Mom said,

    Believe me, I understand; it’s easier to do than you realize, even when your child is your stated top priority. I could tell some stories of my own, so I’m very thankful God’s grace kept you and your siblings safe!


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