It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. I could feel its warmth through the windows and felt joyful after having cooler days the week before.
My kids were excited to play in the back yard. They wanted to dig for worms and jump on the trampoline. They were excited to bike and play on the swing set. And I was excited to watch them play and breathe for a few minutes without having busy children underfoot.
My twins were not yet 2 and they were exceptionally busy. Our house was baby-proofed to the extreme for their safety. As I was getting my 4 year old ready to go out, my twins were downstairs playing. My son then realized he needed to go to the washroom, so I made sure the front door was latched shut and took my son upstairs. When he was finished in the washroom, I quickly got him dressed in his coat and shoes and sent him out the back door to play with his older siblings.
All this would have taken less than five minutes. Then I went straight downstairs to get the twins to come outside, and they were nowhere to be found. Nowhere. I checked in every room downstairs. I ran upstairs and searched. Then I went back down, then up again. I was panicking inside. As I was running around the house calling their names, I caught a glimpse of them outside the kitchen window. They were both outside. And they were running down the street.
I tore out front in my socked feet and ran as fast as I could to grab them before they reached a busier road. I was screaming their names. Of course they thought this was a game and ran faster. And I could hear my other kids running behind me because they didn’t know what was going on.
A lady walking her dog was staring at me and my little ones with an obvious look of disgust on her face. I scooped up the twins and went back to our house feeling afraid about what she might say or do, feeling stressed, sad at what had happened, and I felt like I was a horrible horrible mother. What if my babies ran in separate directions? What if they were hit by a car? What if I hadn’t caught a glimpse of them in the window? I held them tight and I thanked God that they were OK.
Reflecting on this as time has passed, I really don’t think I could have done anything differently. I locked the door and had no idea they could move the latch and open it. We now have a high safety latch, but I had never needed it for my other children.
Which brings me to this…
I am not a bad mother because my children got out on the street. And Michelle Gregg should not be called a bad mother just because her son fell in the gorilla enclosure. Do you know her? Were you there? Today, there is so much negativity about helicopter mothers who watch their child’s every move. But when accidents happen, people are so quick to cast blame on someone they do not even know and pass judgment on them. Maybe he ran behind her as she was buckling a child in a stroller. We don’t know. I’m sure the lady walking her dog as my babies were running down the middle of the road thought that I was a horrible mother. She probably wondered why I wasn’t watching them. She probably couldn’t fathom how two young children could get out on a street. If she asked me, I would’ve told her my door was locked, my twins were downstairs playing, and I was simply putting my son out the back door into our fenced yard. The babies unlatched the door and ran outside. Perhaps, instead of staring at me, she could have helped me.
Michelle, I do not know you. But I want you to know that, as a mom, I know we face judgment on a daily basis. I will not judge you. I am sorry this accident happened and I am so grateful your son is safe. As a fellow mom, I want to encourage you and uplift you rather than tear you down. Accidents happen. Children do wander off and, at times, we don’t have enough eyes or enough hands when needed. But we do our best, and we learn each and every day. We thank God for second chances, third chances, fourth chances… We thank Him that tomorrow is a new day. And, at the end of the day, He knows our hearts and it’s His opinion that matters. Not bullies on social media.
The day my twins got on the street, I was relieved I didn’t make the rants page in our town. I was relieved I was only given a disgusted look instead of an online debut. I was relieved my entire town wasn’t telling me how horrible a mother I was. How I should have overdosed on birth control or given my kids up at birth. Because you know what? I felt pretty darn horrible all on my own. Harambe isn’t the gorilla we should be talking about. It’s unfortunate he had to be killed, but a child’s life was in danger. This is an unpredictable, wild animal. What we should be talking about are the “gorillas” who are tearing down a woman they do not even know. The “gorillas” who seem to care only about animals and not about being kind to each other. Now wouldn’t that make for an interesting story?