Monday, January 08, 2007

A Hypocrite Mother's Confession

I'm a hypocrite. Today my 5-year-old son rode three traffic heavy miles home in our van from school today with only a seat belt securing him down, not his booster seat.

Totally illegal. Totally wrong. Totally hypocritical.

I can't believe myself, my fleeting lapse of judgment, considering how upset I was only days ago after strongly stating my disagreement with allowing children to ride in moving vehicles without proper car seat restraints.

Just as we piled into the van ready to head home from school (with a sweet stop at the local frozen yogurt joint first), my three-year-old son pointed out that his brother's car seat was MIA, a lingering TO DO task Christmas vacation casualty. A highly important task that I failed to tend to after not driving the van for two weeks thanks to very expensive transmission repairs.

Stupidly, I spaced it on putting his booster seat in its right place this afternoon. A parental responsibity lost in the rush of getting soggy diapers changed, nap head hair snaggles detangled and grumpy just waking kids perky enough to make the trip.

I can assure you my son was properly strapped in to a booster seat on his way to kindergarten this morning. His father brings him when he's not traveling.

I can also assure you that I strapped him into a shoulder strap and lap belt combo seat belt in the farthest back seat of the van on the less safe than desirable trip home from school. But, according to the law and my own recently, emphatically stated safety standards, that just doesn't cut it.

Of course, I'm going to have to admit my hypocrisy and maternal delinquency as soon as my husband walks in the door tonight. (Update: BTW, as usual, he took it well. He is a very tolerant, understanding, nonjudgemental fellow. I'm lucky. I would have had him by the balls for the same infraction.)

I could have left my son in the trusty hands of his school's $8/hour after hours child care while I made the 15-minute round-trip journey home to get his precious safety gear, but I didn't.

I completely surprised myself. I'm still shocked. Didn't I just say on this blog days ago that I would "never" do such a thing? What about my mom credibility now? I'm human, for sure.

I compromised my son's safety for fifteen minutes today, fifteen minutes too long. Maybe I'm being to hard on myself, but I don't think so. You know I'd be even harder on you.

Never again.

Think of our parents, parents of the early 1970s (I'm dating myself), who often let us roll around like jumping jacks in the back of pick up trucks on the highway, whipping along at 70 miles an hour.

Would they have beat themselves up so badly for the same booster seat free 15 minutes? Are we modern moms subjecting ourselves to a destructive, far too harsh set of standards? Is being better informed (or overly informed) really better?

With today's increased pressure to be perfect parents, are the stakes higher, and what's the price of all this plaguing worry?


At 9:13 PM, Anonymous jen said...

ah. you know, i did the same thing last week in a very similar circumstance and was completely appalled. still am.

less so, with you. funny how that works.

At 6:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you didn't do it on purpose, so really, you didn't need to rat yourself out. I guess your conscience got the best of you! How very honest of you to blog about something you did that you are so against. I give you a round of applause.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger ewe are here said...

I wouldn't beat yourself up too badly. Really.

I'll never say never. Yes, we use our car seat religiously. BUT, if I had to get my boy to the hospital or someplace else in an emergency, I don't think I'd think twice about how we got there.

At 3:21 PM, Blogger mad muthas said...

add it to a bonfire of the resolutions i'm about to light over at my place. all combustible matter welcome - then we'll dance round it like the mad muthas we are and forgive ourselves for not being perfect. come on - and bring a bottle!

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