Every so often we’ll hear a horrifying story about a parent who accidentally forgot a baby or young child in a locked car. And while many find Forgotten Baby Syndrome unfathomable (especially when the outcome turns tragic), one loving mother recently took to Facebook to express how the scenario can happen to any parent.
“Do you see this little girl? Today I did the unthinkable and forgot about her in the car,” wrote Britta Eberle alongside a touching photo of herself cradling her 1-year-old daughter, Ada, on her Facebook blog This is Motherhood. The mom of two said she and her family arrived at a friend’s house, and in their excitement, they all darted out of the car under the assumption that someone else had remembered to grab the youngest member of their clan.
“But no one remembered her. And she sat for about twenty minutes crying alone before one of us grabbed her. It was such a small mistake but it could have had devastating consequences,” she continued. “Thank god we were parked in a safe place. Thank god it wasn’t hot outside. Thank god she wasn’t alone for long. Thank god she has already forgotten about it and forgiven us.”
“But,” Eberle added, “it will be a long time before I forgive myself.”
She noted that she usually thinks she’s a good mom, but that she made a huge mistake that day and felt terrible.
“There are no excuses for what I did. And part of me doesn’t want to share this. I don’t want the world to know how badly I’ve failed. But then I think that I have to share this. I have to own up to my mistakes. I have to tell the world how far I am from perfect. And how if I did this, anyone could do this. And that scares me but also makes me judge a little less and makes me pay attention whole lot more.”
That night, Eberle says she snuggled her baby girl in bed. She read her a story, turned out the light, and stayed beside her, listening to her breathe as she fell asleep. The mom admits that she felt incredibly lucky.
“We are always so much closer to the edge than any of us realize,” she concluded. “Hug your babies tight and practice forgiveness. Forgive those that make mistakes, even if the person who you need to forgive is yourself.”
Eberle’s post resonated strongly with her readers, with many telling her it’s OK to forgive herself:
“Thanks for sharing. So hard to share your mistakes in fear of judgement and yet in doing so, putting yourself on the line, there is the chance that you can truly help someone,” wrote one mom.
“You’ve already done everything within your control. Your child is OK. It’s an experience you will never forget but you don’t have to constantly beat yourself up. You’re not a bad person for moving forward and being grateful that nothing horrible happened,” another mom commented. “You obviously care very much for your family. Don’t ever feel ashamed to tell yourself ‘Yes, I made a mistake, however everyone is OK and I don’t have to live in anguish anymore!'”
Other parents opened up about their own “irresponsible” experiences.
“I’m a previous lifeguard with seven years experience and hyper vigilant around water. I usually am a hawk, but I was playing cards with the family and relaxed a bit too much. My four-year-old jumped in without her life vest and I saw her under the water desperately trying to surface. I jumped in and saved her. She was rattled but fine. Before this, I constantly glared at ‘irresponsible’ parents. And then I was one too. Very humbling.”
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