Guest Blog -- Worst Mother Ever

Welcome to a new feature on On Balance, the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday, I'll feature the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

Worst Mother Ever
By Lauri Githens Hatch, mother of five and staff writer at The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. We met when she wrote a review of Mommy Wars for her newspaper.

Over most of my ten years of single motherhood, memory conveniently draws a veil.

But, since we're dispensing with all that I-hand-ground-his-food-for-six-months sanctimony, I offer this:

I'd been the single mom of a 2-year-old boy for all of six weeks --- the same amount of time I'd been in my first newspaper reporting job at the Buffalo News. I was so fried I nearly ate his crayons one night, thinking they were carrot sticks.

So, one late fall afternoon, I left early, drove home, went face down on my bed and promptly feel asleep -- right through the end of regular daycare, after-hours daycare and you-parasite-we're-charging-you-triple-for-making-us-stay-this-late daycare.

From the depths of sleep, I heard my father's voice shouting my name. I woke. It was pitch black outside. Bounding up the stairs came my parents, my father clutching my little boy to his chest. "LAURA? LAURA?"

I sat up on my bed, they opened my door, saw me, burst into tears, which made me burst into tears, which made my son follow along for good measure. After six hours, here I was -- not suicidal over a broken marriage, not kidnapped, not in a ditch, not dead -- just dead-tired.

So tired, in fact, I'd gone home and simply forgotten I had a kid.

Worst. Mother. Ever.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 23, 2006; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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Thank you, thank you, thank you for your honesty! I was getting a bit tired of people who claimed that their "worst mommy moment" was the time they let little Greer eat the soy chip dessert BEFORE she finished her tofu! NOthing like a little shot of reality.

Actually, I think we can all understand where you're coming from. And you sound like an incredibly brave woman -- managing to do all that you do. My question is -- have you ever actually told that story to any of the women at your kid's school, work, etc.? It's like our secret shame, the real 'worst mommy moments'.

For what it's worth, here's mine:
I had 3 kids in 4 years (which seemed like a good idea at the time), and shortly after I delivered number three, I woke up one morning after having been up probably 7 or 8 times that night, stumbled blearily into the family room and made the following announcement to my stunned husband:
"I've figured out what we can do. I'm going to put (Baby number 3) in her stroller and cover her with a blanket and leave her on the street in front of her house. She's really kind of cute and I'm sure somebody will take her eventually -- and then she'll be much better off. I'm sorry, but this is more than I can handle."

Then, according to my husband, I stumbled back into our bedroom and went to sleep. I vaguely remember doing this.

Posted by: Another Mom | May 23, 2006 7:34 AM

God bless you, Lauri. You are the real thing.

Posted by: cb | May 23, 2006 7:39 AM

"Another Mom", your story isn't a "worst mommy ever" story. It's a "I'm a human" story.

There isn't one person here with children that can honestly say "No, I never wanted to give him/her/them back". True, we don't really mean it (i.e. won't do it) but when the frustration levels get high oh how I look fondly back at my pre-kid days (or even single days). However, I wouldn't change my life now for $100,000,000,000.

As for Lauri's story, that is inexcusable. Adults have responsibilities and alarm clocks. If you honestly are too tired to get you child, call somebody who can. Seems her father was available for pickup.

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 23, 2006 7:51 AM

Good lord Father of 2 - it is that type of judgment
that is not helpful or needed. She didnt' do it on purpose.
The whole point of the story is that she was overcome by her fatigue. Congratulations on never having to deal with that yourself. Gold star for you.

Posted by: JS | May 23, 2006 8:32 AM

Can we please get this out of italics???

Posted by: scr | May 23, 2006 8:51 AM

Sorry JS, I have had to deal with it myself - wife sick, I'm sick, work a full day, deal with family needs at night, etc. However, I have never been too tired to set an alarm clock or make other arrangements. True, she was a single parent at the time but obviously her parents were nearby and did help when called by the daycare center. She wasn't completely isolated and alone.

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 23, 2006 8:59 AM

After struggling to get pregnant, almost losing my daughter through pre-term labor and almost dying after I had my daughter, I can honestly say that I have never wanted to give her back or looked fondly at my single, childless days.

So, don't make generalizations. Which is exactly why you can't say what Ms. Hatch did was inexcusable. Maybe in your life, with you and your wife it is, but she isn't you. She didn't say she fell asleep with the child in the house, with the stove on, door open to the backyard pool with the neighbor's pit bull as a babysitter. Give her and the rest of us a break.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 9:14 AM

I agree with Fatherof2 - when you are a parent, you MUST be responsible. If you think you CANNOT take care of your child / children, then you make arrangements for someone else to do so. And as the story shows, her father could be there for an emergency. And it was an emergency. Yes we all are human. But as a parent, we are responsible for other humans that cannot fend for themselves yet. That is part of the price of the great joy that children bring to our lives.

Posted by: MidwesternMom | May 23, 2006 9:15 AM

Geez, Fo2, have you never been so exhausted that you passed out and didn't even think about setting an alarm? I was fortunate enought that I didn't have sole responsibility of anyone when I was that tired. When it happened to me, I truly was walking around in a daze and thought I would take a quick catnap before getting some dinner. Six hours later, I popped awake.

I don't think I would be able to get into any kind of routine after 6 weeks of separation (however it may happen) and sole responsibility of my son. Starting a new job, finding day care, fitting in "quality" time when you are trying to take care of dinner, laundry, and baths must be exhausting until you get comfortable with the routine. In my eyes, single parenting is the number one hardest job in the world.

Posted by: Working Dad | May 23, 2006 9:18 AM

Father of 2 - What about parenting has changed for you so that "I wouldn't change my life now for $100,000,000,000?"

I don't have kids yet but am considering it. A lot of the info. I get about baby-having from friends is shrouded in romanticism so I appreciate the honesty here. I'm curious about how one makes the transition from fatigue to bliss. Have heard nearly every sentimental cliche out there so honesty please!

Thank you.

Posted by: Friend | May 23, 2006 9:18 AM

Man, there are some sheltered people in this world. Poor Lauri--you didn't even hit him! I have known mothers who would turn the fan on in their rooms so they wouldn't hear the baby cry in the morning so they could sleep. I had a cousin who gave her kids up to relatives because she didn't want the responsibility. Anyone remember Susan Smith? You can only go so long without sleep before you become insane. This is a technique used to torture prisoners of war. I remember as a kid watching the father of a boy I knew--we were at their house for dinner--taking a belt and just beating the snot out of this kid. He was on the floor, and this dad just kept hitting him. He was probably 11. somehow not o.k. to ask for help. And this was a supposedly upper-class family. If that is the worst thing she ever did, then there is no story here. Father of 2, allow me to give you a chinese blessing: may you be the father of triplets.

Posted by: endoftheworld? | May 23, 2006 9:19 AM

I thought the whole point of a "worst mom ever" story is that she KNOWS what happened is unnacceptable. I don't think she posted it to say "hey it's ok, stuff happens."

Jeez, I don't think she was looking for judgemental responses, just for others to share their stories....

Posted by: Miss the point? | May 23, 2006 9:21 AM

Maybe it's all in attitude. As the mother of three children in five years--now early twenty-somethings, I'd be hardpressed to finger one single worst mommy moment. If you haven't been there yet, trust me, the teen years offer ample opportunity for error. But Lauri's story takes me back to my own mother and my four-year old brother, the third of four children. My mom pretty much raised us alone during those early years since my father was in the Navy and at sea much of the time. One day she got a phone call from our local Piggly Wiggly. It seems she'd driven off about a half hour earlier with groceries, but had forgotten my brother, who was actually thrilled with the whole deal because he got candy, a chance to sit in the grocery store manager's office, and lots of attention. The community just helped out, as Lauri's family did. And laughed. No judgment, father of 2.

Posted by: momish | May 23, 2006 9:24 AM

Sorry scarry, what she did has no excuse. That's one of the things wrong with America today. People (in general) try to make excuses (I was tired, it was a long day, etc.) for erring. Lauri was trying to make an excuse for sleeping (first job, really frazzled) and then made snide comments about the care center ("you-parasite-we're-charging-you-triple-for-making-us-stay-this-late daycare").

Was what she did worth of jail - heck no. But is it worthy of a "oh, thats ok. You had a really rough day" - HELL no. And that is what she is trying to get from us by starting with all the reasons why she did it - so we would feel sympathy.

Sorry, not once did she take responsibility for her inaction. All she said was "So tired, in fact, I'd gone home and simply forgotten I had a kid." Very calm and off the cuff. No regret seen here.

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 23, 2006 9:25 AM

Friend, while parenting is hard - i.e. my 1 year old is up most nights between 2am and 4am teething now and my 3 year old tries to argue her way out of her responsibilities - it is also rewarding.

There's nothing better than the first hugs of the day, or the smiles, or the milestones. Too romanticized?

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 23, 2006 9:30 AM

To Friend: ask yourself if you would die if you didn't have kids. Ask yourself why you want them. I don't recommend it to anyone. Most parents fall short occasionally--either in word, action, or something else. If you desperately want kids, are crying about it, can't look at a pregnant woman without tearing up, or a baby for that matter, try getting a dog. It might do the trick. FYI to any other judgemental, holier-than-though people out there like father of 2--I have 2 kids, love them, wanted them, cherish them, would die for them, just like you, I am sure. But it is an enormous committment, and one that many people simply are not up for through the long haul. I say this not only as an observer of human behaviour, but a teacher who sees scores of students who have parents that think 13 is the age of adulthood.

Posted by: notperfect | May 23, 2006 9:32 AM

momish, when your mother returned to get her brother was her attitude like "So tired, in fact, I'd gone home and simply forgotten I had a kid" or more of "Oh my God!! Are you ok? I'm so sorry. I totally screwed up. Thank you so much for helping out."

We are human - we err. But the difference is what we do when we err. Do we say "Oh well, I'm human" or do we show regret?

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 23, 2006 9:33 AM

Unless you've ever entered a realm of fatigue beyond "My God, I've never been this tired in my life," to "who am I, where am I, what is this creature in my arms, and won't someody please come help me before I simply cease to live," you have no place lecturing anyone who has. We all have different needs and resources (or not). Lauri didn't put the baby in a dumpster, like we've seen some mothers do, she slept. She probably thought she would wake up in time, or was so out-of-her-mind tired that she didn't think of setting an alarm. Yes, it was irresponsible but, in my view, clearly forgiveable. She had filled out the emergency card at her son's daycare and it was put in use. Please tell me how many people would take you seriously if you said, "This is an emergency, I need a nap." In my experience, nobody (although I would, having been there). I really don't think anyone here needs a speech about the "joys" of parenting versus the "responsibilty." We get it, really we do. But sometimes life happens.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 9:36 AM

Calling yourself worst mother ever shows regret in my book.

Posted by: vj | May 23, 2006 9:36 AM

Leslie,
I applaud your bravery for sharing your worst mom moment. All of us make mistakes, some turn out ok, and some turn into tragedy. None of them are ok. We're not invincable, we're not perfect, we screw up. The point isn't to decide whose fault it is, the point is to help each other deal. Leslie's daycare had a system in place to deal with just such a situation. It can't be the first time it's happened!
I can think of many mistakes I've made, (some within the past couple of days), that while not necessarily life threatening, did have an impact on my children's life, and psyche. They're teenagers now, but I remember every time I said I was too busy, or something they wanted to do was silly, or any one of the other things I know caused them damage.
Being a parent is an excruciating, exhilirating, tight-rope-walk of a job, and the singe most rewarding part of my life.

Posted by: mmom | May 23, 2006 9:38 AM

Unlike FO2, I didn't see Lauri's confession as one of not taking responsibility. I read it as one mother telling us about the worst thing she ever did. She felt bad about it. She wasn't excusing her behavior, she was giving us the details of what happened. FWIW, using words like 'inexcusable' and 'unforgivable' make you sound like a close-minded, over-fed and under-read loser.Which is inexcusable.

Posted by: endoftheworld? | May 23, 2006 9:38 AM

"Unless you've ever entered a realm of fatigue beyond "My God, I've never been this tired in my life," to "who am I, where am I, what is this creature in my arms, and won't someody please come help me before I simply cease to live," you have no place lecturing anyone who has. "

Been there - done that.

"Please tell me how many people would take you seriously if you said, "This is an emergency, I need a nap.""

Everybody who is on the emergency contact card at our daycare center would. That is one of the reasons why they are on the card.

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 23, 2006 9:39 AM

Calling herself the "worst mom ever" for it's not taking responsibility? The child was fine, and as far as we know, it was a single blemish early on in an otherwise perfect record of ten years. Yes, the consequences could have been far worse, but there's really only so long you can actively beat yourself up over what-ifs and not go insane. It's one thing if her writing style rubs you the wrong way, or if Leslie's prompt and word limitation didn't allow for the "what I learned from this" portion of the story you seem to be after, but I think the statute of limitations for blame on this one has passed.

Posted by: fs | May 23, 2006 9:40 AM

Father of 2:

She called herself the worst mother ever (even stopping after every word for emphasis). Yet you say she expressed no regret. Did you skip that line?

Posted by: cb | May 23, 2006 9:43 AM

Friend,

To answer your question (and pardon some of the overgeneralization here), there are many points in your life with children in which you need to adjust to a new schedule. Whether it is just after your baby is born, when a sibling is born, when they start a new school, your job changes, your marital status changes, the children get sick, etc. Any time you have to get used to a new routine -- even temporary -- I can best compare it to bootcamp. You are exhausted, confused, out of your mind from lack of sleep and overwhelmingly unsure of what you are doing. For me, this pretty much happens every time there is a routine change of the type I describe above. That is when your parenting can hit its worst moments -- when you are unsure of yourself, exhausted, and ready to sell your children on eBay. The rest of the time, well, you have your ups and downs but it is basically the romanticized notion your friends describe. The important thing to remember is that these low points are temporary, and are very quickly overshadowed by the great moments. Plus, mommy/daddy-amnesia sets in :-) I have no doubt that not long after Lauri's "worst. mother. ever." moment she had an experience with her 2-year-old that had her overcome with joy.

Posted by: FS Mom | May 23, 2006 9:43 AM

Score: Lauri--12, Fo2, 1

Posted by: endoftheworld? | May 23, 2006 9:43 AM

FO2
I am sorry to tell you that you are self-righteous, condescending, and arrogant. I think the Chinese blessing would suit you perfectly. May you be the father of twins. Have you never made a mistake? Are you so perfect that you can afford to be so judgemental?

Posted by: Mother of 1 | May 23, 2006 9:53 AM

Father of 2 said: "We are human - we err. But the difference is what we do when we err. Do we say "Oh well, I'm human" or do we show regret?"

Clearly, she regretted it if she posted it under "Worst Mom Ever"! The title of this blog is not "I am a tired single mom, so I have excuses for making mistakes".

Father of 2, why don't you share your PERSONAL experience instead of commenting, relentlessly, on those that others were brave enough to share.

Posted by: SR | May 23, 2006 9:58 AM

Let's not play Fo2's game of judgmentalism. He's just wrong. That's not a crime. I do wonder, though, whether he'll have the courage to note that he overlooked Lauri's expressions of regret.

Posted by: cb | May 23, 2006 9:59 AM

Father of 2? Father of 2? Really, don't be embarassed. Everyone makes mistakes.

Oh, yeah, that was the point of today's blog entry.

Posted by: cb | May 23, 2006 10:03 AM

I would be curious about the circumstances that led to the single motherhood of the young lady in question. Planned? Accident?

Posted by: Registered Voter | May 23, 2006 10:05 AM

Mother of 1:

First, no more kids for me. Can't have twins or triplets.

Second, yes I make mistakes - I'm human. But I never describe them with the statement "I simply forgot I had a kid".

SR:

Sure, what personal experience would you like to know about?

And how am I "relentlessly" commenting on others? Are you mistaking me for Father of 4?

cb:

When I first read "Worst. Mother. Ever.", I interpreted it as hyperbole. Too many people use that method of speech flippantly.

Personally, I don't feel the regret from Lauri when reading her piece. She "simply forgot she had a kid."

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 23, 2006 10:07 AM

"ready to sell your children on eBay"

YES!! How much should the starting bid be and for what age?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 10:13 AM

Father of 2, I think you may just be reacting to how her blog was written. It's just a writer's literary expression of an event to make it compelling to the reader. She did burst into tears at the time and possibly felt completely horrible for weeks following. I for one can't even imagine what that was like, although I would never go as far as to say it would never happen to me. Clearly she hasn't forgotten it. And she was willing to share it. We'll never know more about it than what she told us above, but to assume that she is irresponsible and remorseless is sort of a waste of time at this point.

Posted by: FS Mom | May 23, 2006 10:14 AM

"I would be curious about the circumstances that led to the single motherhood of the young lady in question. Planned? Accident?"

IMO that falls under "none of your business". The woman had the child and is now caring for it as best she can. That is enough for me.

I know a woman, a very good friend, who is trying to raise 3 girls (one a newborn) by herself, and I have nothing but respect and admiration for her courage and resourcefulness.

Posted by: John | May 23, 2006 10:15 AM

Wow. We're all over the place. First, it does sound like Lauri is taking responsibility. She made a mistake, she admitted it, and imo sounds like she regretted it, a lot.

Second, being so tired you forgot your kid isn't a "ha ha, boy we've all been there", kind of thing. It's a potentially serious mistake. It works out ok most of the time, but there is serious potential for harm. As parents, we don't have the luxury of making too many of those kinds of mistakes. It's up to us to work out a system where we can take care of the important things.

I've watched my 13 month old son for a few weeks at a time when my wife goes out of town on business. I manage to take care of my son, work a full day, do some light chores (not everything, but enough to keep the house going), watch 1 tv show, and get 8 hours of sleep. It is tiring, b/c when something goes wrong, like either my son or I getting sick, it throws everything off... but it can be done. When I start to get drained, I bring him to my neighbors for a few hours of sanity time.

I sometimes think people get frazzled b/c they can't learn to prioritize and recognize what has to get done now, what can be put off for another time. They also seem to think they have to do everything, or that they are needed everywhere.

Relax.

Posted by: father of one | May 23, 2006 10:15 AM

FS Mom - Great explanation. Thanks for sharing this with me. Helpful and interesting.

notperfect - No, I'm not desperate for kids. Babies aren't that interesting to me but I love interacting with older children (talking age and older). I'm still trying to work out if parenting is a good choice. So thank you, too, for your thoughts.

Posted by: Friend | May 23, 2006 10:15 AM

father of 2,

I don't want to gang up on you, but she was sorry it happened for many reasons.

Maybe she didn't say it outright, but the crying kind of tipped me off. I used to pride myself on being a "super aunt" I mean, perfect in everyway. I never made a mistake and I had five children all the time, since the time I was 12. (blue collar family, everyone worked during this time). However, after a midnight shift and an emergency trip to the mall to buy a needed pair of shoes for one of my nephews for a football game, I lost my baby nephew number 4! I was hysterical and he was hiding. We found him luckily and he was fine.

Does this make me a bad aunt or even a bad mother! hell no, I love those kids and without me, they would have went without shoes, clother, and sometimes food.

Everyone make mistake, eveyone.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 10:18 AM

These are great comments! I don't think she is the worst mother by any means....The worst parents are the kind who don't parent, who aren't responsible and who put their children in harms way. And, custody battles bring out the worst (sometimes with sad results) in parents This was a glitch in her life and if she was a single mother with a 2 year old baby, starting a new job and maybe newly single then she was overwhelmed. I once walked downstairs carrying my 5 month old at 4am to feed him, completely exhausted and tripped over a pair of shoes, dropped the baby and fell into the wall. We have all had these situations. To the woman thinking about having children, it IS a big commitment and don't romanticize it at all. But the good outweighs the stressful times. Little people are draining especially if you are exhausted and just want to go to bed. I can occasionally do this because my husband will step in but if I was a single mother there would be no breaks.

Posted by: typical working mother | May 23, 2006 10:21 AM

For Friend: No one should have kids - unless they want them. Ideally, they will save, plan, make a home, get an education, and do some baby-sitting before they make the big decision.

But, really, there is no way to know it all before you decide to have a child. When you DO know it all - after you've raised a few kids - you wonder how, and sometimes why, you did it! When my first grandchild was expected I was excited, but I couldn't help mourning my own child's imminent loss of freedom to pursue other talents and dreams. Because I know there will be some sacrifices. Hopefully, the new parents will not give up, in the long run, the main life goals that are really important to each of them. (Because, now, I know I gave up more than I really could/should have. Hindsight.)

So, would I still have kids? Probably. Because I really wanted children. Your own kids are way more fun than other people's kids. They teach you so much about yourself and being human. They force you to become a better person. They are the world's future and your stake in it. And, day-to-day, they are another person connected to you by love and hope and trust. Worth it - for you?

Posted by: granny | May 23, 2006 10:24 AM

FS Mom:

Great post. I think I over-reacted by what I saw as a lack of emotion.

I pick up out 3-year old and my wife picks up our 1-year old. Every day I call her when I pick up the 3-year old to make sure plans didn't change and I wasn't supposed to pick up the 1-year old. Major fear I have is forgetting a kid at day care.

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 23, 2006 10:26 AM

"Calling yourself worst mother ever shows regret in my book."

Does anyone seriously think Lauri truly believes she is the "worst mother" ever? This is clearly an exaggeration. So her words are not primarily an expression of regret.

Rather, it is a common technique: self-flagellate in public and exaggerate what you've done. To gain sympathy, when people tell you there, there, it wasn't really so bad.

Whether any such sympathy is deserved is debatable. Reasonable arguments can be made either way.

Can you imagine what would happen if an airplane pilot fell asleep in the cockpit because he was jet lagged and couldn't sleep and was too exhausted from flying the night before? How sympathetic do you think the FAA would be?

What about a doctor who is dog-tired from working a 72 hour shift and makes a near-fatal mistake with a patient? How sympathetic would the jury be when the malpractice suit hits?

To the other hand, there is no evidence of malicicious intent or wilful neglect, so Lauri probably made an honest mistake, realized it, and then (presumably) took steps to prevent it from happening again. It is unfortunate that Lauri didn't have the foresight to call for help BEFORE the incident occurred, but her actions afterwards help mitigate in her favor.

Of course, we are all glad that nothing bad happened to the child, and that the grandfather was nearby.

Posted by: Mixed Call | May 23, 2006 10:30 AM

One of my worst moments was when my second son was nearly a year old and wouldn't take a nap and wouldn't stop crying. I was completely exhausted and needed sleep badly. I got in my car in the garage where I couldn't hear him cry in his crib and sat there and sobbed until I could face him again without wanting to strangle the little darling!

Posted by: grandmom | May 23, 2006 10:34 AM

I just want to comment, I would never pass judgement on a single mother, they try to do the best they can in a diffecult situation. With that said, I do not have children and sometimes I think I would have a child by myself, but then I think that I would not be responsible to be a parent and I think it would be very selfish. I want to say that to all those single parent, men and women, god bless u all....do not knwow if I will every join your ranks.....

Posted by: Single G, NYC | May 23, 2006 10:35 AM

granny - Thanks for the beautiful, thoughtful post. This is exactly the type of information I've been looking for. Honest and hopeful.

Posted by: Friend | May 23, 2006 10:36 AM

I do not have the blessing of children yet (I'm only recently engaged as it is), but I have distinct memories of childhood. This includes one winter day in kindergarten when I stood outside and waited for what seemed like hours (but I'm sure was only minutes) for my parents who never showed up. Instead, my grandmother came and got me claiming to be my "Fairy Godmother." Teachers were with me, and although I was upset, it turned into one of my fondest and lasting memories of my grandmother. To this day, I'm not sure what prevented my parents from picking me up that afternoon - but it doesn't matter. One blemish does not a whole record ruin.

Posted by: ddonaghe | May 23, 2006 10:44 AM

We are all human. Lauri shows how much she has agonized over her actions by her "confession." Eight years later, she is still haunted by what happened. The point is she wasn't piloting a plane or performing surgery and somewhere in the back of her fatigued brain she knew her child was being taken care of. As a grandmother, I am certain she will never forget this episode. May she grant herself a large measure of forgiveness, as all parents must, unless they somehow get through parenthood believing they have never made a mistake!

Posted by: grandmom | May 23, 2006 10:44 AM

I'm the child of a manic-depressive paranoid delusional (now deceased) mom. She once stole a car from a dealership put me in the back-seat and engaged in a high-speed chase with police. They roadblocked us in before she could hurt anyone.

She had her health problems which she dealt with the best she could. I try to learn from her struggles. Maybe all our kids learn from our struggles through parenthood, once they are old enough. So, don't sweat the small stuff. And most of it is small stuff. Be resilient and let that be the legacy your children remember.

Posted by: Perspective | May 23, 2006 11:00 AM

Wow. Good thing I didn't share the story about letting the baby play with some lo mein in his high-chair one day, so I could put away some groceries (which included Fritos! Yes! AND Oreos! And later that day I pulled the tag off my pillow! And mixed my lights and darks!)
Good Lord, how do some of you manage to type on a keyboard while both hands are nailed to the Cross?
Look, before we all wind up in a shirt-soaking rage, let me clarify:
I never for a moment literally forgot I'd had a baby. I'll spare you the abatoirish details, but suffice it to say that he was 24"and almost 11 lbs., and that kind of thing tends to stay with a girl. Father of 2, in order to fully appreciate the experience, do this: Get half-nude, hop on a bed, surround yourself with strangers, stick a few needles and tubes in your arm...and then take your lower lip and pull it over your head. Enjoy. (Thanks to Carol Burnett for the lip line).
What happened was that after 6 weeks of combining full-time mothering and full-time reporting, I was finally, despite my deeply ingrained Buffalo tenacity, in extremis. I went home, went face down and fell asleep - so intensely that for the first time since his birth, my silent internal alarm failed to rouse me.
My mother and father - whose own father died 2 days before he was born and knows a thing or two about single moms- helped me unfathomably. And while they don't recall the incident ("You're writing about what, Lauri? When? I don't remember that. Are you sure?"), I absolutely do.
I learned a priceless lesson - one that would never need relearning.
The baby is now 16 years old, 6 feet tall, eats aproximately every 20 minutes and is the joy of our lives -- as is his 9-year-old brother, and the three incredible girls I got through marriage.
And all without even so much as a felony warrant to our names. Imagine that.
Thanks for the shot at a follow-up.
Love to all, must dash, some damned school is on the line wanting to know when this kid with the bleeding knee is going to be picked up, it's weird, I have no idea who thi ...oh, wait, hang on.
Oh my GOD I have to go.

Posted by: lgithens | May 23, 2006 11:01 AM

"Of course, we are all glad that nothing bad happened to the child, and that the grandfather was nearby."

nothing happened to the child becasue he was safely at daycare. That's why they make you make a contact list. Also, there is no comparision between a doctor killing someone becasue he/she was tired or a tired pilot crashing a plane.

Her child was never in danger!!!!

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 11:05 AM

I said it at the beginning and I'll say it agin. God bless you, Lauri. You are the real thing.

Posted by: cb | May 23, 2006 11:05 AM

She needs to either find another career or try to repair her marriage. Don't let your child suffer just so you can be some big-shot reporter.

Posted by: Gerd Topsnic | May 23, 2006 11:06 AM

I have a very vivid childhood memory of the time my big brother was in the hospital getting his tonsils taken out. In the late 60's it was an overnight procedure. I was 3 years old at the time, as confirmed by my Mom. I wasn't old enough to visit any sick patients, so my Mom and Dad sat me down in the waiting room that directly faced the elevator. They told me that they were going to visit my brother, and that I should wait quietly until they got back. They told me not to get out of my chair. Both my Mom and Dad left me as the elevator doors opened, they stepped in, and the doors shut. So i waited... and waited... and waited... And finally the doors began to open. And just as I was getting excited to see my Mom and Dad again, possibly with my brother, I was horrified to see that the box that they stepped into was completely empty. OH MY GOSH! The box had eaten my parents! There was no sign, no trace of them at all. I was alone, and scared, and my parents were gone forever. What had that terrible box behind the doors done to them? I ran from that box, wailing with horror and loneliness, fearing that it would get me next.
My memmory blacks out for quite some time. The next memmory i have is seeing, through my tears, a glass wall with flowers behind it. A girl, dressed in pink, a little older than me, blonde hair in pigtails, freckles, was trying to give me something. It was a book, "The Patchwork Puppy", and then I stopped crying. I talked to the girl, she was beautiful. When my parents found me, they scolded me for getting out of my chair, but they let me keep the book. I still have it.
To this very day, I suffer from elevator nightmares, where the people I love walk through the doors and I never see them again. The elevator box turns into a coffin. Everytime I get on an elevator, or go through a Metro Train door, I'm reminded to say a small prayer to my Gardien Angel, who as I imagine, has blonde pigtail, freckles, pink dress, and looks surprisingly like my wife.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 23, 2006 11:07 AM

I'd be curious to hear what Father of 2 feels is his worst moment as a parent.

I thought his apology fairly handsome.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 11:07 AM

I wonder if the same level of empathy would be shown to one of the dads who left the baby in the car because "he forgot to drop off at daycare" and then the baby died. He may also have been overworked, overtired, exhausted. In addition, dropping off the baby is not part of his normal routine. Are we as sympathetic to him as to the mother who missed pick-up? Granted, one baby is dead and the other is OK, but it is still a case of "forgot about the baby".

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 11:10 AM

"She needs to either find another career or try to repair her marriage. Don't let your child suffer just so you can be some big-shot reporter."

What does repairing her marriage have to do with this topic? But on that topic where was the kid's dad? Maybe she should have went on welfare and had people like you support her. Oh no, then you would have told her to get a job, right?

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 11:12 AM

Lauri, didn't Leslie warn you about this blog? Oh, and we'll forgive you for forgetting you have children, but mixing lights and darks??? HOW COULD YOU????

Posted by: FS Mom | May 23, 2006 11:16 AM

Yes, going on welfare for a while in order to properly care for her child would be a better option than some fast-paced /long hours job at a newpaper.

After some time she could try to transition into something with better hours that didn't leave her so crayon-eating tired.

Remember- its not about YOU and YOUR CAREER, it's about a small child being stranded at day care wondering if his mommy was ever going to come back or had abandoned him.

The Dad's probably a schmuck as well.

Posted by: Gerd Topsnic | May 23, 2006 11:20 AM

no I am for one am not empathtic to anyone male or female who leaves any living thing in a car. The difference is that the baby was at day care and was safe. Big difference from leaving him in the car and going to work.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 11:21 AM

"I'd be curious to hear what Father of 2 feels is his worst moment as a parent"

I would say it was when our first was very young (within 1 month old). She was up crying non-stop at night. Both of us (wife and I) were with very little sleep for most of her life (I took off 4 weeks from work).

She wasn't hungry, she wasn't wet, she didn't need to be burped, she just wasn't shutting up. We were both frustrated. I wanted to throw her against the wall to get her to stop crying. Instead, I just held her a bit longer, kissed her head, put her in the crib screaming, and told my wife I needed 5 minutes. Obviously, she stopped crying at some point - I just can't remember how.

Actually, my worst moment is when we thought she had an ear infection. We took her to the nighttime clinic. Her ear was fine but the doctor was worried about her belly. He said it was distended. They x-rayed and were concerned about a blockage so they sent us to the ER for a surgical consult. Turned out to be nothing. But that was the worst moment (so far) in being a parent. Believing something is seriously wrong with your child and you can't fix it.

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 23, 2006 11:22 AM

To Friend: I don't disrespect parents, think a few do awesome jobs, many do an ok job, and a few do terrible jobs--like anything. And it's such a huge, important job. But if you don't really, really, really want to--don't have them. I always knew I didn't want to, and my life has been joyous: full of friends and extended family and good work and volunteerism and creativity and hobbies and travel. Without kids there's enough money to indulge interests, enough time to daydream and hear myself think. Too many people don't think through a huge decision, it seems. If you're not convinced beyond everything that you should, please don't.

Posted by: Childfree | May 23, 2006 11:26 AM

I worked for a short while in a preschool on the closing shift. WE closed at six, and the policy was that if a parent was late in picking the child up, they had to pay $15 for every 15-minute increment, and the money went directly to me. I was generally a stickler for charging late parents, in part because I was paid poorly enough that the $15 made a difference in my finances, but mostly because I saw how sad the kids were when everyone else was gone and they were there waiting. I felt so badly for them, and I figured whatever I could do to make parents realize it was simply unacceptable to be late, I should do.

One day, I had one little girl left to be picked up. At 6:30, I started calling all the numbers on her info sheet. Nobody at home, nobody picked up at the grandparents. No work numbers had been provided. At 6:45 I called my boss. We still couldn't find anyone. My boss said she'd start calling, as the little girl was getting really agitated and I needed to focus on her. Finally, at 8:15, a completely panic-stricken mother arrived at the door. She and her husband, who both worked, had a miscommunication, and both thought the other had picked her up; in reality the mother was required to work late (she worked a line job and did not have a lot of control over her situation) and the father didn't know it, had gone to take care of the older child. My boss had finally tracked the mother down at work. I had never seen someone look so horrified, traumatized, and guilty. I wouldn't have charged her the $135 dollars she technically owed me, she had clearly suffered enough. But my boss, when she got her on the phone, told her she had to pay me half, and she did, though I told her it was unnecessary.

As judgmental as I had been toward late parents before, that time around, I just felt sympathy for the mother. Sometimes these things happen, and I am pretty darn sure that when Lauri burst into tears in this story, she felt as horrible as the mother in mine.

Posted by: Megan | May 23, 2006 11:27 AM

"Remember- its not about YOU and YOUR CAREER, it's about a small child being stranded at day care wondering if his mommy was ever going to come back or had abandoned him."

Please. The child was two. He could just as easily have thrown a tantrum when grandpa showed up because he was having too much fun with the building blocks to leave. Didn't sound as though he was all that upset until he got home and saw Mom in tears.

But hey, at least you're equal opportunity when leaping to conclusions about strangers on the basis of a 300-word essay.

Posted by: fs | May 23, 2006 11:32 AM

Single Mom for 10 years? And mother of 5? I do think there's a much larger issue to be addressed here -- and it generally relates to not bringing a child (let alone a brood) into the world, in the first instance, until one is prepared (whether alone or preferably, with a spouse) to care for them to the fullest extent humanly possible. This, to me, seems lost in the current day's feverish fertility (vs. parenting) discourse.

Posted by: New Dad at 40 | May 23, 2006 11:34 AM

Yeah, I'm with Scarry, there's a world of difference between leaving a child in a life-threatening situation and leaving a child at daycare. Jeez people, get over it.

Posted by: Megan | May 23, 2006 11:37 AM

New Dad at 40:

I think you missed a couple of details. She said she got three "incredible girls" through marriage, which I assume means she married their father. She doesn't say so directly, but it seems likely that he is also the father of her second son.

Posted by: THS | May 23, 2006 11:39 AM

Megan,

I also worked in a day care as the closer and I saw parents who went shopping, had a date, etc. I also stayed with children whose parents were in car accidents, had a death in the family, had an emergency and was called to the hospital, etc.

At this very moment my "back up" person to get my daughter is in Mexico on his honeymoon. If something happened to me and my husband, my daughter would be sitting at day care with the very loving day care workers. Sometimes, you just can't predict what is going to happen to you.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 11:39 AM

New Dad at 40:

Please read Lauri's comment at 11:01. Then you will understand how she came by her 5 children, and perhaps not make incorrect assumptions.

Posted by: cb | May 23, 2006 11:40 AM

New Dad at 40,

I suggest you reread Lauri's comments; three of her children are from her marriage, so your "Single Mom for 10 years? And mother of 5?" probably tastes a little crow-like right now.

Posted by: John | May 23, 2006 11:40 AM

"until one is prepared. . . to care for them to the fullest extent humanly possible."

New Dad at 40, would you care to clarify what that means? Can I have a child if I don't already have the college tuition saved? What about private school from pre-k to college? Or do I have to have already saved enough money that I can stay home full time and home school my child regardless of what might happen to my spouse? Or, do I need to have established an excellent and fulfilling career that will instill in my child the value of hard work and give him/her the tools to become a millionaire too?

Yes, I think people should plan as much as possible, but there's no end to your requirement, and there's no agreement on what it means to care for a child to the fullest extent. Some people think it means private school, some people think it means home school. I personally think it means giving them unconditional love, and I do hope every parent is ready to do that before they have children.

But families can be happy in a very wide range of circumstances, judging others because they do not have the same material wealth or family structure as you do ignores that simple fact. My dad grew up with a mother who was bi-polar and a family that was constantly strapped for money, but he was still happy and I for one am glad he was born, in spite of the fact that my grandparents would probably fail whatever test you are putting out there.

Posted by: Megan | May 23, 2006 11:48 AM

It really is difficult to understand the challenges faced by a single parent unless you walk in those shoes (and I don't mean for a few days while your spouse is on a business trip). Most single parents don't plan that they will be raising their children on their own. Lauri was lucky she had her family nearby; I have no family, and my ex-husband moved to Australia. I am truly without a safety net. My ten-year-old daughter got sick two weeks ago, then I got sick as well (bronchitis). I was out of work, and I put my daughter on her school bus at 7 a.m., fell back asleep at 8 a.m., then woke up at 2 p.m. (set my alarm) so I could meet her bus (she got better before I did). Then one night she had an allergic reaction to her antibiotics (hives). I was very sick, very weak, but my first concern was caring for my daughter. I gave her Benadryl, put her in an oatmeal bath and treated her skin with hydrocortisone. I skipped the Tylenol PM and stayed up with her to make sure that she was okay.

I believed my husband when he said he would always be there for us. We were together for eight years before we had our daughter. In the end, he didn't want the responsibility of a family, and now that responsibility lies solely with me. I hoped for the best, but planned for the eventuality that it wouldn't work out.

Posted by: single western mom | May 23, 2006 11:57 AM

Father of 4, thank god you are back. I worried all weekend that you were done with this blog. And then with all the Father of 2 entries, I got worried he was trying to take over your spot. Now all is well in the world...Really sorry to hear about your elevator phobia. Quite understandable.

Lauri, thank you so much for your story. And the rest of you, send me yours for next Tuesday!!!!

Posted by: Leslie | May 23, 2006 11:57 AM

Single Western mom...you sound like a really wonderful mother. Keep it up -- your daughter is going to turn out great. Your ex is the one who is the real loser in all this...you two are the winners.

Posted by: Leslie | May 23, 2006 12:02 PM

New Dad at 40 wrote:

Single Mom for 10 years? And mother of 5? I do think there's a much larger issue to be addressed here -- and it generally relates to not bringing a child (let alone a brood) into the world, in the first instance, until one is prepared (whether alone or preferably, with a spouse) to care for them to the fullest extent humanly possible. This, to me, seems lost in the current day's feverish fertility (vs. parenting) discourse.

People really need to stop and read. This is what Lauri wrote in her response:

The baby is now 16 years old, 6 feet tall, eats aproximately every 20 minutes and is the joy of our lives -- as is his 9-year-old brother, and the three incredible girls I got through marriage.

The way I read that, she had two biological children (the boys, the first of whom she was left with when her first marriage ended) and she became a step-mom to the "three incredible girls" she "got through marriage." So, sounds like she was fairly young and inexperienced and got left with her young son. Many years later she met and married another man (who had three girls) and potentially had another son with him. Not, frankly, that it would matter if they were ALL her biological children, but people should take a little more time reading and understanding before they decide to jump all over someone.

Posted by: allmomsworkingmoms | May 23, 2006 12:08 PM

New Dad at 40,

People could also judge you too for having your children so late in life. I won't, but I've heard many people say things, like when they are 18 you'll be 60 and you will never live to see their kids, etc.

The point is that you shouldn't judge people becasue they are different. And even though it's not true, so what if she was a single mom with five kids. She was taking care of them so who cares.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 12:13 PM

I have to say just reading your post I was shocked. Having children is a hard enough.
So many times I hear these stories and it makes me sad. My own wife fell asleep missed feeds, baby drops and a little neglect b/c she was soooo tired or needed some time for yourself. Just plain selfish if you ask me. I am seperated and have my boys living with me. When I hear how mother's or father's put themselves first after having kids...they probably should have thought twice about having them.
I am not perfect but these KIDS DID NOT ASK TO BE HERE....We did and should be strong enough to handle it PERIOD!
My mom did it w.3, her mom before her (9).
Stop making accuses and take care of your KIDS. I am so sick of it.
You just took a back seat to your kids.

Posted by: Father4Life | May 23, 2006 12:13 PM

Father of 2,

In your defense (and I believe this is true), if a man had told this story, he would have never been responsible for picking up the kid again. It's a rotten double standard that says that women take care of children better than men. As we see here, it's not always the case. In fact, I think Dads do a slightly better job taking care of the children 1)because we don't get all caught up in the emotion of stress ("Oh, somebody please help me!) and 2) because we are so paranoid from all of the unsolicited advice we get from women when we are alone with our children.

Forgetting you "even have a kid" is inexcusable. Even when my daughter is with her mother a few states away, I NEVER forget I have a kid. What if it had been the back of hot car in August instead of at the daycare? She didn't forget. For a brief moment, she didn't care.

Posted by: Father to D | May 23, 2006 12:16 PM

Megan and scarry,

"Yeah, I'm with Scarry, there's a world of difference between leaving a child in a life-threatening situation and leaving a child at daycare. Jeez people, get over it."

I agree, but she wrote, "So tired, in fact, I'd gone home and simply forgotten I had a kid", not "I was so tired I decided to take a nap before picking him up and overslept and missed the time"

BTW, when my kids were in daycare, the policy was to contact parents, emergency contact, and then the police/social services if there was no one to pick up the child after 45 minutes.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 12:18 PM

Wow, a lot of you guys sound sleep-deprived.
Some people have nacrolepsy and fall asleep suddenly and unexpectedly. Even a normal person driven to the brink by lack of sleep, stress, and fatigue can sleep for 11 hours or more and be unrousable. I've lived with those people.

I don't have kids, but I can remember a day my mom would probably have remembered as an awful mom day.

What happened was we were in a carpool with another family to the bus stop for a school that was over 30 minutes' bus ride away. (It was a special school). My mom did mornings, they did afternoons.


So the other family went on vacation and my mom simply FORGOT she had to pick me up after school. So what happened was that the bus waited for 15 minutes or so for my mom, who never showed. Then after the bus driver spoke on the radio, the bus returned to the school.

The monitor was laughing at me that my parents had forgotten about me. (Aren't adults so nice?)

Shortly after I arrived back at the school, bewildered by what had happened, my parents arrived-- my mom and Dad together, my dad had finished work (his job was around 20 minutes away from the school. My mom apologized and they took me to the zoo on the way home, probably out of guilt.

Was I traumatized by the event? No. But I bet my mom was.

Posted by: Adult child | May 23, 2006 12:22 PM

Jeez, there is very little sympathy on this board. My mother a SAHM went shopping with my aunt and forgot to tell me to go over to my sister's house after school. I was 9 and I just sat and cried on my front porch. My sister realized I wasn't coming and came and got me. So, it seems like my mother forgot about me too, but i'm okay.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 12:29 PM

I do not have any children of my own yet, and my mother is now deceased so I don't know what she thinks is her "worse mother ever" incident, but I do recall the day she left me in the grocery store.

I was perhaps 5 and we were visiting her parents, and went to an unfamiliar store to pick up some food. In all the confusion and distraction, I wandered away to the candy rack, where I stayed while she, my younger brother and her parents went out to the car. Not until everyone was in the car did she realize someone was missing, and ran back in to find me. Since it was an unfamiliar store she had to run all over it before finding me, who by that time had become convinced she had abandoned me. Everything was fine once I was found, but 40 years later I still recall it!

Posted by: John | May 23, 2006 12:41 PM

Scarry, I couldn't agree with you more on your last couple posts. You never know what's going to happen, but seems like most people on this board have no sympathy for others on that count.

I think I'm done with this blog and all the judgmental posts. But I'll miss you and Father of 4, I always enjoyed reading your comments, as well as a lot of the other regulars. Good luck to you!

Posted by: Megan | May 23, 2006 12:44 PM

Megan,

Don't gooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. If you go, I think I'll go with you.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 12:50 PM

You people are so judgemental. Haven't you ever been so tired your mind doesn't function right and you maybe don't remember where you are or who you are let alone remember your kid?

I have a similar story to Lauri's. When I was in high school I babysat for a neighbor. She was in school late every day so I would go pick her daughter up from daycare at 6:00 and watch her until the mother got home. One day I came home from school, sat down on the couch to watch tv, and fell asleep. Didn't set an alarm because I didn't realize how tired I was. The center called about 6:30 or 7 and I went running up there. I felt awful as I was afraid I'd get the mother in trouble at daycare. They were supernice and didn't charge the late fee.

But I definitely understand being exhausted and maybe not realizing how tired you are.

Posted by: kephart | May 23, 2006 12:52 PM

really Megan don't go. People who come here to talk about issues need your advice and the pleasantness you bring.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 12:55 PM

You know what... the foster care system is filled with children who actually do have the "Worst.Mom/Dad.Ever."

"Unforgivable" and "inexcusable" is the kind of abuse some kids get at the hands of the ones who are supposed to protect them and love them best. So, please get a hold on reality and stop judging the rest of us.

Posted by: Poolesville | May 23, 2006 12:58 PM

Well... one I can think of was a time my son hurt his arm and after asking him all about it decided not to go to the ER... but then some years later when he broke that arm falling off his bike, the xray showed that the earlier accident had resulted in a hairline fracture too. Yikes. Felt horrible about that one. Still do, although his arm did heal OK.

As to leaving the baby somewhere, my god I had nightmares about that although it never happened. I used to wake up in a sweat especially after I split with their father, I would wake up when they were with him and feel terrified that I had forgotten them or left them or whatever. A true nightmare! But like I said that never happened.

Although my ex DID forget them a few times at daycare, and didn't even apologize to the daycare workers. I don't think he thought it a big deal really, at least he didn't make like it was. Of course they called me and I went and got them so all was well. But I doubt he would bother to consider himself "worst father" over that and frankly most other people wouldn't either I bet.

In that vein, a supervisor I had once - a man - told how he was left to "babysit" his two daughters when they were small and didn't pay attention and they swallowed some kind of bad stuff and had to go to the ER and have their stomachs pumped - not once but twice he did this! He was considered a "nice guy" mostly but told this story as pretty much a funny story... and was kind of surprised at my look of horror and disbelief. I think he and a lot of others thought, oh well, fathers are like that, ha ha. Now this was in the 70's so it is a while ago. But in my experience the expectations for a father have not been as stringent as for the mothers.

Posted by: Catherine | May 23, 2006 12:59 PM

I have to say, I think almost everyone is missing the point here.

The writer is not asking us to judge. She is not asking us to condemn. She is not asking for our forgiveness or understanding. She's just sharing an experience that she felt strongly enough about to write it down. Take what you want from it. Identify or don't. Agree or diagree. Learn from it or dismiss it out of hand.

Why do sides need to be drawn up and chosen? Some people undoubtedly have done worse things. Some have not. Some function beautifully on a few hours sleep, others need a solid 10.

But none of it makes any one of us any better or worse than any other. Just see it for what it is and conduct your life the way you feel is best for you. No one knows what's best for you and your children better than you. There is no one, fool-proof way to raise a good kid. Nobody gets to "win" at this.

Posted by: Tom A. | May 23, 2006 1:06 PM

To me the main point here is that this kid has a mom and grandparents that love him (I do feel bad that dad was apparently way out of the picture here.) I think that she may have done the right thing here--if she was this exhausted was it even safe enough for her to drive to day care, pick him up, and drive home? No, her driving was probably already impared from lack of sleep. So the right thing to do was take a nap then go pick up the kid at regular time. So she over slept--she got desparately needed rest and the kid was just fine at day care. These things happen to everyone--even the people on this blog currently living in lovely glass houses and throwing stones.

Posted by: notamombuthuman | May 23, 2006 1:13 PM

To Father of 2. Why does it make you so angry to know someone else out there is struggling more mightily than you? What constructive purpose does your judgment carry? You parse her words and ascribe motive and tone where there is none -- and for what? To persuade yourself that you are a better parent? Perhaps you are. But why the anger? Be glad! Feel grateful! And give the tired mom some support! Or even suggestions on how to combat the fatigue. Isn't that more constructive? Don't you, like most of us, read this blog for clarity, for a reminder of what's important? The tired mom was appalled at her own actions. Do you think she's more likely to learn something, and be reminded of what's important, by being told that she's a failure?

Posted by: Another Working Mom | May 23, 2006 1:24 PM

Unfortunately, I was one of those kids in the foster care sytem, albeit briefly. I didn't see my mother or my father until I was almost 4, as they handed me to my grandmother when I was a newborn. When my grandmother sent me and my brother to live with my parents when I was 3 1/2 and he was 2 - in a new country - my parents routinely left us home by ourselves and also physically abused us. So my advice to the moms who've commented here is to give yourselves a much-deserved break.

Posted by: b | May 23, 2006 1:24 PM

On other note: Forgetting to pick up your child is forgivable. Intentionally leaving your child - like my mother did - is not.

Posted by: b | May 23, 2006 1:34 PM

Think Leslie has a crush on Father of 4 :)

Posted by: booyah | May 23, 2006 1:38 PM

I have quite a bit of sympathy for these ladies because their negligence or actions is clearly unintentional. I all-too-clearly remember the day when I was 12 or 13, and was fighting with my mom about visiting a friends' house, and she took a breath, looked me straight in the eye and said, "You are such. a. little. b%$#@." The intentionality of some actions like this probably hurt kids - but the ones that are unintentional, when we grow up, we get how hard it is sometimes!

Posted by: Just a Point | May 23, 2006 1:39 PM

hahah, who doesn't!

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 1:39 PM

New Dad at 40,

People could also judge you too for having your children so late in life. I won't, but I've heard many people say things, like when they are 18 you'll be 60 and you will never live to see their kids, etc.

Hell of a lot better then having a kid (or 2) when you're still a kid yourself.

Posted by: snarf | May 23, 2006 1:41 PM

"Just a Point" - I tend to agree. Children are built to be raised by imperfect people. I see nothing wrong with stopping yourself during or after an error and telling your child, "You know what? Mommy/Daddy made a mistake. I shouldn't have done/said that and I'm very sorry. You didn't do anything wrong and didn't deserve that." If anything, it will teach them how to admit when they are wrong, how to make things right and how to forgive. Showing them respect, remorse and good intention will go a long way toward fixing the mistakes we make.

Posted by: Rich | May 23, 2006 1:48 PM

Yeah, Scarry's not goin anywhere..

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 1:49 PM

Did Fo2 come to this board to troll or what? sheesh; no dialogue just non stop bickering about this douche-bag's comments...

Posted by: troll | May 23, 2006 1:59 PM

Someone said this:
"I sometimes think people get frazzled b/c they can't learn to prioritize and recognize what has to get done now, what can be put off for another time. They also seem to think they have to do everything, or that they are needed everywhere."

Thank you, sir, for the best laugh I've had in a while. You also said in your post that you get 8 hours of sleep when you care for your son. Tell me, at any point in his life were you the one responsible for getting up when he cried 2-4 times a night, every night, for months at a time? Do you think that schedule could possibly have something to do with the frazzled feeling so many parents have?

The other day, after I'd forgotten some thing or another, my husband looked at me and said "you know, lately it seems like my memory is a lot better than yours." It cracked me up that he didn't see the obvious reason for my new lack of mental acuity -- I haven't gotten an entire night's sleep since my daughter was born in December, and haven't gotten more than four hours at a time since March. Some days, I'm amazed I'm still capable of speech, let alone of childcare. As far as I'm concerned, Lauri's mistake is not only forgivable, but entirely understandable.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 23, 2006 2:06 PM

Yeah, Scarry's not goin anywhere..

?

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 2:06 PM

>

when my mother went to have my younger brother, she left my dad with two girls under the age of 4 with complete sets of clothes, prepared meals, et cetera. she came home days later to find us in the same outfits we had worn when she left and having eaten only jello and margarine...'cause that was what we wanted. and my dad just let us do what we wanted. my mother was appalled but later she would laugh about it. i don't remember this but it is my favorite story.

good parenting has NO gender, dude.

Posted by: childfree by choice | May 23, 2006 2:07 PM

snarf,


I was just making a point that you shoudn't judge other people to harshly becasue someone can also judge you. I'm no spring chicken myself.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 2:07 PM

I came by this article and thought hey if only my daughter just fell asleep. She lives with her father and I and at 22 rarely takes any responsibility for her son. She works; comes home plays and either stays or leaves. Doesn't buy diapers, doesn't call sometimes on the weekends. Its kind of like a divorced parent for us but we are the parents and she is the adult that has not grown up. I hope Laura caught up on her sleep...She is a great mother! Thank goodness for the grandparents who care...but who will raise the future generations for the ones who are growing up now? Oh by the way...I'm also a caregiver for my 81 year old mother-in-law and life is still great...just sometimes tired.

Posted by: Chrisnine | May 23, 2006 2:11 PM

Scarry, I just wouldn't thraten to leave the blog when you won't! That's all. :-)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 2:16 PM

wow, i thought the whole point of the "worst mom ever" stories was to get people to openly admit some of the things no one ever talks about (like the time we let our 18-month-old ride standing in the front of the grocery cart and he flipped out and on to his head on the rock hard grocery floor--luckily he was still rotating and the full impact was more on his diaper than his head; hey, wow, i sound pretty unaccountable and flippant but i was horrified at the time). it's nice we all have our own opinions about the event and lauri's writing, but i think it's too much of a stretch to start using it as a test case in what's wrong with people these days or as to how accountable she is. why are we so judgmental as parents? i'm just as guilty--i often question why other parents (sometimes friends and neighbors) do certain things or sometimes why they even had children to begin with. you'd think parenting would unite us since its such an important job that would benefit from shared resources, but too often it seems to divide.

Posted by: dad of one | May 23, 2006 2:33 PM

You know, shortly before our second child was born (15 months after the first), we were interviewing babysitters, and we interviewed this really nice lady whose two girls were 13 months apart and she told us she didn't sleep through the night for the first FIVE YEARS and my DH and I both laughed, because we assumed she was joking.
Then, about three years after the birth of baby number two, we both looked at each other one night and my husband remembered the story and he said to, "You know, she wasn't joking" and I was like "I know, I know, I know, already."

And BTW, I once fell asleep while driving on the Autobahn in Germany -- so I know sleep deprivation . .

Posted by: Not Your Mom | May 23, 2006 2:37 PM

I was reading Father of 2's comments and had to add my own because he reminds me so much of my own father.

I was forgotten by my mother multiple times during childhood, at school, at day camp, you name it. Yes, it was a little scary at the time, but I don't know many kids who HAVEN'T been forgotten by their parents at some point, and I don't have any "scarring" memories; they're just a little funny, years later. In all cases there was an understandable reason. (for what it's worth, I find Ms. Hatch's case understandable, too. it happens. that's why there are emergency contact numbers.)

On the other hand, I also have a father who made the same kind of comments -- "unforgiveable" and "inexcuseable" -- and regularly beat us when we slipped up, physically and verbally, in order to make sure that we wouldn't make the same mistakes again. My father never forgot me anywhere, but on occasion when he *did* come to pick me up, I was greeted by the word "sh--head," because I had forgotten something. Despite all this, I know he loves us, but we've got issues with him.

These days I'm working on finishing my Ph. D. I love my mom just fine and I can't wait till she comes to visit later this summer, but I made my decision early on that I will never be a mother. While I know they certainly exist, I've never seen a household where the dad deals equally with home and work, or at least where the father and the friends respect the fact that the mother must put in a second shift and that sometimes mistakes happen. I saw my mother, who was (in my opinion) a good parent, put down too many times by my "perfect" father and I never want to be in her shoes as an adult. As for my dad.....he's better-behaved now but he still can't handle it when anyone but himself makes any kind of mistake. I know he loves me (and yes, he does), but.....

Yes, I have read those stories where the mom or dad forgets the kid in the car on a hot day and the kid dies. My first thought when reading those, when it's purely the result of forgetfulness and not because the dad is in a strip club (it happened) or the mom locks the kids in the car because she's getting her nails done (it happened) is not "what a horrible parent," but "my God, that poor kid, and the poor father/mother is going to have to feel this for the rest of their lives." Because in many cases, it's a "there but for the grace of God go I" kind of thing.

anyway I just want to say that I've been reading this blog for a while and that every week I find reasons to reinforce my decision not to have kids. This place is way harsh, and if these are the things people are actually willing to *say*, God only knows what they are *thinking* without *saying.* And the people reading this are supposed to be the informed, well-read, well-intentioned kind of parents. I can only think of how many years my mom has spent bearing the brunt of my father's impatience and anger and sometimes acting as a human shield to protect the kids, and how I saw and understood as she wanted to keep up with her career but the sheer workload of not having my dad pitch in at all around the house wore her down. But I guess if I *did* want to have kids I would have found reasons to reinforce that, too.

Hug your kids, guys, and cut your husbands and wives a break. I guarantee that Ms. Hatch's no-longer-a-rugrat still loves his mom and I guarantee that the grandfather who picked him up doesn't despise Ms. Hatch for it.

Posted by: notamom | May 23, 2006 2:54 PM

If one reads Lauri's story closely, she was not only six weeks into a new job, but six weeks into being a single parent (which probably necessitated said job). Talk about emotional and physical exhaustion...

My worst Mom moment: telling my kids (then in 4th & 6th grade) that I had cancer. I felt like I'd failed them, that I would die before getting them launched, and the guilt was horrendous. By the tone of some posts here, having the audacity to die before they reached adulthood would leave my kids with a single parent, rendering them delinquent and my spouse an unworthy parent.

My best mom moments have come from cancer, too -- watching my sons grow into responsible, mature young men who are beiginning to reap the rewards of their hard work (and our tender cultivation, combined with vigorous weeding).

And four years in to the cancer thing, I am happy to say my disease is under control and I hope to be around for a good while! :*)

And now back to our previously scheduled sniping...

Posted by: Derwood Mom | May 23, 2006 3:02 PM

Eph. 4:31 asks that we be kind and compassionate to one another.

It seems a shame that some people can't use this topic as a chance to connect with one another but rather, prefer to use it as an opportunity to create division through judgement and condemnation.


Posted by: Try Kindness | May 23, 2006 3:13 PM

When I was 12, one of my half brothers was 4, the other 2, and the last one about to be born. We were new in town and had no family nearby, so I babysat the boys while my mother was in the hospital giving birth. The day after the baby was born, my step-father left early in the morning to go to the hospital and "visit" my mother. My mother called a few hours later to find out where he had gone. He never made it to the hospital, and he did not come home until late that night. I was a kid, no grandparents nearby, and responsible for a four year old and a two year old while their father did god knows what all day. I remember crying, and my little four year old brother telling me everything would be alright. So all you self-righteous fathers who think men are better at this than women, take heed. You can be a lousy parent regardless of your sex.

Posted by: mom in the burbs | May 23, 2006 3:18 PM

To those who suggest the writer is a horrible mother because she didn't take responsibility and have safeguards, the fact that her parents picked up the child and brought him home *shows* that she does have safeguards in place. Most daycares require parents to keep emergency contacts on file because there are times when people make mistakes or accidents happen; they couldn't get a hold of her so they contacted her parents. She had a family network in place, which suggests to me she was not irresponsible--just dead tired.

Maybe she was anemic or has some other physiological reason for such extreme fatigue. It's easy to point fingers at people who make mistakes because I'm sure it makes us feel better about our own, but we would be much better off exercising compassion and understanding so that when we make our big screw-up, the people around us might show the same compassion.

Posted by: Iunderstand | May 23, 2006 3:21 PM

OK, I'd like to bring in the Brittany Spears factor. When I saw the headline of today's column I wondered if it was about her travails as a mother.

I am no fan of Ms. Spears, but I pity her and her child for being under the relentless watch of the media. If she's an idiot and endangering her child, someone should step in an do something, but if she's simply faking it until she makes it (like the most of the rest of us parents), give her a break.

what parent among the bloggers and the columnists would hold up to that kind of scrutiny?

Posted by: phillymom | May 23, 2006 3:21 PM

I'm reading Father of 2's post about worrying about forgetting his children at daycare. That is what happened in the story so not sure why the strong reaction to the story. Its not like she fell asleep and left her child to wander the mean streets -- she just didn't get to her daycare in time and they called her emergency backup, her parents. My husband and I once thought the other was picking up our son. We both arrived home at 6:45pm (daycare closed at 6:30pm) and looked at each other as the phone rang and the daycare person said, just checking. A friend of mine once drove all the way home and walked in the door and said I forgot something, what is it -- it was her 5 month old who was still at daycare. The problem becomes if you leave your child in a hot, sweltering car or in a dangerous situation.
I enjoy the bantering between each person -- I think some of it is a little angry though. maybe toning it down a little bit would be a good idea so hopefully people won't leave the post. Maybe some of you post angry posts just to try to get a reaction from other people and think its funny. None of us know each other after all really.

Posted by: typical working mother | May 23, 2006 3:29 PM

Lauri fell asleep at home, on her bed. She was not with her own child. So her child wasn't in any danger at home. If she had to make the mistake of forgetting to pick up her child, she actually did it in the safest way possible. Her child was never in jeopardy. Not for a minute.

On some level, this is probably why she was able to "let go" and sleep as long as she did.

She did not, for example, lock her child in the car while she went to work, or shopped, or whatever. She did not leave a child at home alone with nothing to eat, and wearing unchanged diapers.

She also did not drive with the baby on her lap, hang her over a balcony (while wrapped in a blanket), or any other of the crazy things we've heard of celebrities doing.

Posted by: Kate | May 23, 2006 3:45 PM

Back to the question of having kids. Should we or not? My husband is 40, I am 38 and we've been married only a year and a half. We love our lives now. Why should we upset that to become "older parents?" Maybe if we had married younger I wouldn't question the child decision because we do like kids. But to be new (adoptive) parents at age 43 and 40---good idea or not????

Posted by: 38 year old newlywed | May 23, 2006 3:45 PM

"But to be new (adoptive) parents at age 43 and 40---good idea or not????"

Only you can answer that question. I have friends younger who said they don't want kids. I have friends older that just had their first (and probably last).

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 3:56 PM

Whether or not to have kids should have much less to do with your age than whether you believe the joys will outweigh the hardships. For me, the questions were: Will I look back on my life and regret not having kids? Do I think I will be able to be a good parent (not flawless, but good)? Am I ready/able to love someone many times more than I love myself? Can I support a child/children in all the necessary ways? For me, the answers were quite clear. For those I know who've chosen not to have kids, the answers were clear as well.

Posted by: cb | May 23, 2006 4:03 PM

The comments that are usually seen on this blog are the reason that Leslie titled her book "Mommy Wars." Why can't moms be supportive of each other? We all want what's best for our families. Why be so judgemental? Is everyone truly that catty?

Posted by: why don't we help each other? | May 23, 2006 4:10 PM

To 38 yo newlywed, do not decide whether to have kids based solely on your age, and do not assume you will have to adopt because of your age, it can happen naturally for a few more years for you (probably). I was married at 38, had a baby at 40 and am expecting #2 at 42. I cannot imagine our life without our daughter, she brings indescribable joy to our lives (and we were very happy people before we had her). It is a personal decision, but in the DC area you would hardly stand out as an older mom these days.

Posted by: another DC mom | May 23, 2006 4:12 PM

38 year old newlywed,
Can you beat a 5 year old in a footrace? After running a few miles? Adopting kids is like being thrown in a football game as the quarterback at halftime when you haven't shown up for spring training. Taken care of kids (nieces, nephews) over a weekend yet? One last thing... house training a puppy doesn't count on a parenting resume. Good luck! I wish you the best.

Posted by: Baldo | May 23, 2006 4:12 PM

38-y-o-n-w,

Liking kids and having them are, obviously, whole different ballgames. I might compare them to going on a cruise and being the multi-role of captain/navigator/head chef/safety officer/entertainment coordinator/majority owner. One is merely involved with the ship. The other one better be totally committed to it.

I'd say: let you and your husband's mutual understanding of how you want your lives to be guide your decision. The use of language "why should we upset that by having kids" seems to indicate you understand and prefer the way you've allocated time in your life--professionally, socially, whatever--and it also indicates you are aware enough to realize that adding children to your life would change that allocation. But that't not to say it will always be that way for you, and maybe one day you will decide that's what you want, and all that comes along with it.

Your self-awareness is to be congratulated. I love my son and my family dearly and absolutely, but I didn't have near the understanding about my non-kid life that you and your husband have about yours (at least my wife did). I *thought* I knew how my life would change, but I grossly underestimated the scale. Said the guy who just bought a minivan.

And that's why I never put a lot of stock into censuses, weather forecasts, or Nostradamus ;)

Posted by: bethesda dad | May 23, 2006 4:15 PM

Notamom,

I don't know how old you are, but I'll let you know my story. When I was in high school, I swore I would never have kids. They are bratty, unkind, and just not worth all the effort. When I spent some time overseas, one of my friends said to me, "you know, the only thing that you can really leave behind when you go is your genes and knowing that you raised a child who is a benefit to society as a whole." That got me thinking a bit and by my mid-20s I decided I would like to have children. But my girlfriend at the time was not interested. A few girlfriends later, I finally found someone I wanted to marry. Two months before the wedding she said, "you know, if you want to have children, I'm not the person you want to marry. I just don't have the patience for children." I had finally found someone I wanted to marry, so I agreed that if she didn't want children, then childless we would be. I could help out with kids by coaching or through church. Well, six years in, she decided that maybe we should have children. SOMEONE wanted us to know that it's not easy, so we struggled for a couple of years to have a child. Finally got the good news, lost a twin, pre-term labor, 4 months of bedrest. But from two adults who swore we would never have children, we have our one joy and can't imagine ever being without him.

Keep your options open. It takes three generations to change a family trait. The first generation has the trait, the second recognizes the trait and does something about it, and the third knows nothing about it. We are struggling with some family traits ourselves. My wife helps me overcome mine and I hope I am helping her overcome hers. If that is what is holding you back, you can be the catalyst to change the way your father treated you by being a better parent to your own or, with their permission, your friends' and siblings' children.

Posted by: Working Dad | May 23, 2006 4:15 PM

38 and Newlywed:

When I met my husband, I was 25 and he was 40. When we started getting serious in our relationship, he said he was too old for kids, and I said I didn't think so, but we never really talked too much about it. After a year and half of marriage, it was clear that we both really wanted to have a child. To us, it felt like such a natural extension of our love for each other, and we both felt strongly that we wanted to give that love to somebody else. We had our daughter when I was 30 and he was 45, and she has enriched our lives so much. You have no idea how much love you have to give until you have a child. My husband still jokes occasionally about being too old (the other day he cracked on about having to use a walker when it's time to teach her how to ride her bike), but the truth is, he's never seemed younger to me than when he is playing with her. It's amazing.

As other's have said, only you can tell. My only advice is that you should not have a child because you want to *be* loved, but because you want to love.

Posted by: the younger wife | May 23, 2006 4:20 PM

When my son was 3, he often woke up at night and just needed to have his covers put back on and would go back to sleep. One night he just wouldn't go back to sleep. I was up and down about 4 times and my husband finally got up and went downstairs to sleep. I told my son that I was closing his door and it was time for sleep. I then went into my room as he cried and cried. About three minutes later, my door opened, he came to the foot of my bed and threw up all over my bed. I felt awful that I had let him cry when he was sick. Thankfully, he felt immediately better and promptly went back to sleep. I was left with quite a mess to clean up. Of course, that was just the beginning. The next week was a blur of sleepless nights as the stomach flu made its way through our family of 5.

I also dislocated my 18 month old daughter's elbow when I was taking off her pj top. She cried a bit, but then stopped so I didn't think much of it. We went to the grocery store and she was still a little weepy, but it was the holding of her elbow that finally tipped me off that something wasn't quite right. Off to the doctor we went and a quick adjustment by the doctor and she was fine. A relatively common injury, but I felt horrible.

Posted by: momof3 | May 23, 2006 5:06 PM

What causes the single mom phenomenon?
The author of this blog did give any facts to provide the context, so we don't really know how or why she was a single mom, nor should we care, nor is it relevant.

Yet some on y'all want to go ahead and use this to put the lady under indictment for being a single mom rather than (or in addition to) being an exhausted mom. After all, one can't be a self-righteous, hypocritical moralist without flogging a sinner for misdeeds. So, let's start up a list of things that can cause single-parenthood and/or broken homes. And yes, let's capture some of the more immoral things you can conjure up but also include factors beyond one's control.

* rape
* divorce (w/ or w/o joint custody or child support)
* unprotected premarital sexual activity
* unprotected adulterous sexual activity, possibly resulting in divorce
* death of a spouse/partner
* flight from an physically abusive spouse/partner
* incarceration of a spouse/partner
* military deployment of a spouse/partner

It's entirely possible, yet STILL immaterial, that this lady became a single mother through no fault of her own, yet the moralists would still flog her. How about it? For argument's sake, say she was raped, became pregnant and raised the baby anyway. Moralists, what would you say then? Would you condemn her? What if her husband were murdered in a violent carjacking, and she never thought twice about terminating her pregnancy and raised the baby? Moralists, what would you say then? Would you condemn her? What if her husband were killed in a car wreck or died of cancer only weeks/months after the baby's birth? Moralists, what would you say then?

Here we have simply an interesting anecdote about the difficulties and consequences of being a single parent, and some of you just couldn't wait to jump in to judge the lady - forget judging her about her mistake that day - but judging her life on baseless assumptions. Those of you who did are just plain sick. Go sell crazy somewhere else, this town's already got plenty. While you're at it, get a life.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 5:24 PM

"Single Mom for 10 years? And mother of 5?"

In response to new father at 40, let me just say that life throws a lot of curve balls. And, regardless of how well you've prepared, you are going to be on the receiving end of them.

There's not accounting ahead of time for extended family emergencies, illnesses, other heartbreaks (caused by you, spouse, or child(ren)). The list goes on and on.

There is no perfect time to have a child. Yes, build up your resources as much as possible, but the years tick away quickly, and to wait until the perfect time, for some women especially, will mean that the time for children has passed.

Posted by: Kate | May 23, 2006 5:25 PM

38 and Newlywed:,

Hey,

I'm the last of four children. My mom was 36 when she had me and my dad was almost 41. They love me and I love them. I had a great childhood and now I help take care of my parents. Sure there were a few times in high school that I wish I had a younger, hipper mom, but that was just my growing pains.

I have often heard people say who should and shouldn't have a child and sometimes age is a factor. I think everyone should make up thier own mind and make the choice that is best for you.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2006 5:31 PM

I do have a crush on Father of 4. I told my husband. I live for his words!

And to the mom who said this blog has reinforced her decision to not have kids, I bet we'd all agree that having kids is the best thing we ever did. Go figure.

I love my husband and my kids and my job, but few things are more satisfying than complaining about them.

Posted by: Leslie | May 23, 2006 5:31 PM

Worst mom moment. My son (now almost an adult), then in kindergarten, complained of a stomache ache. Previously, he had fooled me into letting him stay home. Kindergarten was a bit dull, I guess.

On this particular day, I sent him in with his pretend ailment. I was promptly called after the Pledge of Allegiance, during which time, the "faker" had thrown up.

Ouch.

Posted by: Kate | May 23, 2006 5:35 PM

To 38 yo newlywed: I just turned 38 myself. At 36, I had my first child - a beautiful baby girl - she is now 19 months. I still do not sleep through the night. She has changed everything about my life and takes up all my and my husbands free time. But, we could not imagine life without her, and consider her to be one of the things we've done right in our lives. She brings us joy everyday - just watching her grow and learn and smile. We will try to have another child within the next year. I've always known I wanted to be a mother - but I never knew how fulfilling and exhausting it could be - I work full time and am sooo tired. I'm hoping to be able to quit by the next one.. Consider having a child - and yes, like someone else said, do it because you want to "give love".

Posted by: DD | May 23, 2006 5:39 PM

My dad forgot my birthday a few years ago. I was turning 25 so it's not quite like I was a kid, but did it sting a little that he didn't call and didn't remember until a few weeks later? Sure. Did I forgive him right away, before he even remembered to call? Of course! I love him and know he loves me, regardless. You can't expect people to be perfect.

I agree with posters who say that unforgivable or serious offenses are in a WHOLE other ballpark than what the author of today's column talked about.

Posted by: Ingrid | May 23, 2006 6:00 PM

I made the original post questioning sympathy for the dad forgetting the baby in the car. I actually was curious about the reaction and how much "reading between the lines" would take place.

Re-read the post. I was not judging the mother who missed pick-up. She obviously felt terrible about what happened and probably would never make that mistake again.

I was testing the level of sympathy and human compassion for the other parent. He also felt terrible about what happened, but the difference is that he will NEVER get over it, never have a chance to avoid that mistake again and will have changed the lives of the rest of his family forever. This doesn't mean that I don't think he should be punished or held responsible, I just feel terrible for someone in this tragic situation. No one is a winner here.

As many posters have pointed out, things happen and none of us are perfect. I personally can find it in my heart to feel bad for someone who makes a mistake that results in tragedy as well as those of us who make mistakes that turn out ok.

Kudos to the author for telling her story. I bet she had no idea what she was in for with this audience.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 6:43 PM

38 yo newlywed,

I had my first child at 31 (hubby 42) and the second at 35 (hubby 46). We are now 49 and 60 with a soon-to be 14 and 18 year old daughters. Being older parents with babies had some challenges, but nothing compared with being older parents with teenagers. Teenagers wear you down. They constantly test limits as part of the natural course of growing up and learning independence. It can be relentless.

There has been nothing harder in my life than dealing with teenagers and menopause at the same time. I love my children dearly, but don't particularly like them right now. I waver between feeling sad that they will be all grown-up shortly and "can't wait til they go away". My children are basically good kids, but every little bit of obnoxiousness, attitude, flippancy, disrespect, etc, is saved up in public and then released at home. Just once, I wish I would be the recipient of their good stuff instead of the bad. I guess it will still be a few years until they turn into human beings again.

Having said all that, I love my children dearly and am not the least sorry that I had them. I do wish that I would have had them when I was younger.

I also think that it is easier if you don't work a lot of hours because of the difference in the energy level as you start to get older.

I would have been happy if I hadn't had children, which would have been the case if I had any fertility problems. I was not interested in undergoing fertility treatments and/or adopting. I believe that you can have a completely fulfilling life without children.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 7:00 PM

I can only quote a dear friend and true daughter of the South, when presented with the most grotesquely gaudy ring she'd ever seen:
"Why, it's so much moah than ahh eh-vah expected!"
This was a true hoot, guys. Thanks for your honesty and...other interesting bits.
I'm lgithens@democratandchronicle.com
And thanks again, Leslie.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2006 7:11 PM

Last Sunday I was watering my tomato plants when I heard a sickening squishy thud off the side of the deck. Baby Boy, my 3 year old, had fallen from the rail he was climbing on, which was about a 7 foot drop into the dirt I had just turned. A 10 battleship-count silence was followed by a wail that every parent can differenciate as a cry stemming from severe physical pain. Panicked, I yelled "HELP, MY BABY, HELP!" I heard the neighbors door open, my wife and kids came running. My baby cried "My head! My stomach!" as he screamed out in agony, and all I could do is stand there and take it while I held the stupid watering can. At best, I hoped for a concussion and broken ribs. but all I could do was just stand there in front of him listening to him cry, which was a good thing, at least he was alive. And he cried, and he cried, a little more softly each time. Then he lifted his head. Then he rolled over. Great! No neck injury! We picked him up, gently and put him on the air conditioning unit. After a few minutes, he sat up, wiped away the tears, and then he was "safe" to hug. You may think I'm a fool for saying this, but please, all you parents, keep your child's gardien angel in your prayers!
This evening, Baby Boy and I put the tomatoes in the ground, then I watched American Idol with all my kids. When Katherine sang "Over the Rainbow", it made my eyes water, just like Katherine's Dad. What lucky parents Katherine has, but somehow I think, not quite as lucky as me and my wife!
All you single Moms out there, you have my respect. I too, wish men would do more to accept their responsibilities as Fathers of their children, including myself. goodnight, I'm exhausted, my wife works late, Baby Boy looks like he is going to sleep with Sissy, so I get the bed all to myself tonight. Damn!

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 23, 2006 10:58 PM

Father to D (who is a few states away):
You said: "Even when my daughter is with her mother a few states away, I NEVER forget I have a kid."

So that makes you father of the year? Why is your child 'a few states away'? It makes quantity time tough, if not impossible.

Posted by: SR | May 24, 2006 11:43 AM

There is absolutely nothing, nothing harder in the world than being a single parent. It is the hardest job in the world.

However, given the tone of this blog, I wonder what the reaction to Lauri's story would be if the author was Len and the title was "Worst Father Ever." The same level of sympathy? I think not.

Posted by: NYDad | May 24, 2006 12:15 PM

"However, given the tone of this blog, I wonder what the reaction to Lauri's story would be if the author was Len and the title was "Worst Father Ever." The same level of sympathy? I think not. "

Taken an average of opinions from the blog, you're probably right - he wouldn't get the sympathy. However, I don't think there would be unanimous disapproval.

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | May 24, 2006 1:31 PM

Father of two, with one more on the way.

Worst daddy moment ever -- my daughter (firstborn) was about 18 months old, and it was my regular responsibility to pick her up at daycare. Since I work fairly close to daycare, I usually cut it pretty close to closing time, as the trip doesn't take very long.

One day, I get there at closing time, and my daughter is dawdling. It's getting later, all the other kids are gone, and I'm having a rough time prying her away from the toys. Finally, I pull the "Okay! I'm leaving! Bye!" tactic on her, and walk out the front doors.

She sees I mean it this time, gets up, and runs to the front door, I about-face and go back to the door to let her out -- only to find out that it auto-locked at 6:05.

Daughter is too small to push the door open, and I'm trapped outside. All staff had left the building, and I didn't want to leave her, as the mounting panic and confusion at me not letting her out is starting to make her cry.

This goes on for about 15 minutes, by which time my daughter is wailing in panic, when finally, someone exits the building (daycare is in an office building). I explain my problem to him, and he runs back upstairs to call the facility management people, who come and unlock the door.

Not really sure what I would have done if the center were a stand-alone facility, with no-one around. Can tell you I haven't pulled the okay-bye-I'm-leaving trick since ... at least not with a one-way door separating us.

And to throw my hat briefly into the SUV/Minivan v. Hybrid/sedan/station wagon debate. We have a Prius and an Accord that served us very well for many years. I finally broke down and bought a minivan, cause with another kid on the way, there's no way we'd be able to fit five people in a single car, since three of them required carseats. I hate drivin' a big honkin' gas guzzlin' vehicle, but understand the necessity. Do I get a pass?

Posted by: Dumbdaddy | May 24, 2006 1:33 PM

ms. hatch, i so enjoyed your story! i am a 25 year old, single mother of a 2 year old boy and i can honestly say that there are times when i feel the exact same way - like i am the worst mom ever. i make so many stupid mistakes on a regular basis. his entire first year i would often wake up, look at his sweet, angelic face and ask myself, "is this REALLY my baby? this has to be a dream! WAKE UP NOW!!!" i frequently let dora and spongebob babysit him, especially on weekends, while i sleep. i often fantasize about the wonderful, carefree life i had before i became a mother. i allow him to eat cheese curls and french fries for dinner to avoid hearing him cry when i attempt to present a healthy meal to him. i am constantly guzzling down caffeine pills to stay alert and advil to keep my brain from throbbing. i don't have any reliable sources to lean on when i need a break. i have various family members and friends on his emergency card at day care however i know that they are far too involved in their own lives to ever consider that my desperate need for a nap is a real emergency.

when i feel sad about not being the ideal mother, i try not to focus too much on those bad points (and i must say there are several more where those came from!) and i consider the positive things i do to care for my son. i am a shopaholic - but i have never gone on a shopping spree without buying tons of clothes and shoes and books and toys for my boy. i quit engaging in risky behavior (smoking, drinking, partying) because i don't want him to see me that way. i spend hours photographing him, putting scrapbooks together portraying every moment of his life, boring my friends with all kinds of stories about the silly things he does. the only reason i have a job now is because of him - i could be sitting on my rump living off my family or a man but instead i want to provide for him, i want to make certain i can give him everything he could ever want or need. i want to be a positive example for him. mostly i want him to know that i love him more than i have ever loved anyone and he is the most important person in my world.

with all that said - and yes i know it was a lot - i don't care what anyone else said or thinks, from one exhausted mother to another, i can truly relate to that story and i totally appreciate your honesty!

Posted by: billy's mom | May 24, 2006 2:22 PM

Oh, Puh-LEASE, Self Righteous "Father of 2," get back to us with your thoughts after YOU become the sole care giver for your kids and also have to work a full time job. That kind of responsbility leads to utter, desperate fatigue, which leads to exactly the type of situation single mom described. Normally, there would be a PARTNER to help out with the load. Obviously, this mom - like many, many other moms - doesn't have that little luxury.

Posted by: surrogate mom | May 24, 2006 3:21 PM

To "Friend" - poster who is wondering whether or not to have kids; some thoughts to consider:
Do you feel at all pressured (by society, family, your lover or husband) to procreate? In other words, is this something you think you might want to do because most people have been conditioned to think that it's what you're SUPPOSED to do?
Are you willing and able to make the new lives you bring into the world the number one priority in all things? Are there other things you'd like to accomplish that will conflict with this huge responsibility?
Do you suspect that you'd love the kids...but not your life? Is that okay with you?
How would you feel about raising those kids on your own should circumstances dictate it?

Posted by: silver spring | May 24, 2006 3:37 PM

Re. "I'd be curious to hear what Father of 2 feels is his worst moment as a parent"....Fof2, are you for real?? Those two instances you mention are certainly annoying and inevitable parts of having children - and quite commonplace, too - and have nothing to do with your own personal worst moment as a father, ie., an instance where you feel you failed as a parent. I suspect this oversight was not an error on your part?

Posted by: downtown d.c. | May 24, 2006 3:46 PM

downtown d.c.

Yup, I'm for real. I cannot think of a time when I believe I failed as a parent.

Never forgot about my childred, never hit my children, never ignored my children, never injured my children by accident (or on purpose).

So, nope. Never failed as a parent.

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 24, 2006 4:05 PM

WOW. I think that is all I can say about this blog. To the critics of single mothers - I dread what you would say to me. I was raped in college and decided to have a child. I have worked 2 to three jobs for the last 10 years trying to raise that child. I ask for no sympathy from anyone. I commend Laurie on her honestly. There have been mornings that I have been so exhausted I have slept through not only my internal clock, but the four (yes FOUR) alarm clocks that I set. I work my butt off; but it isn't for my career. It is for my child who deserves every chance in this world. I REFUSE to live in a "bad" neighborhood. So I work. Does she ever see me? Absolutely. Like many other single moms out there, I suffer from the guilt of not being a stay at home -- so I over commit, and get even less sleep. At the moment, I average about 3 to 4 hours of sleep each night. Is it healthy? No. But I do what I can to make it. And Laurie - my worst moment? God, how do I pick! I have forgotten to pick her up after an afterschool activity, I have slept through soccer games, forgotten about girl scout activities, forgotten to pack clothes for sleepovers, and just last night, I realized at 9:00 that she hadn't eaten dinner yet - I was knee deep in her school graduation planning. Does she hate me? I don't think so. Does it make me a bad parent? I hope not. Like so many others out there, I am doing the best I can with what I have.

Posted by: Working single Mother | May 24, 2006 4:06 PM

"So, nope. Never failed as a parent."

Father of 2 -- that comment right there proves you have failed. Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect. The second you assume that you are perfect is the second you prove to the world that you aren't.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2006 4:13 PM

I read many of the comments on this blog and was quite surprised by the frustration/tension expressed by many parents here. I definitely felt more judgemental before having a child and sometimes would think to myself, "I would never do it that way if I had kids." Now that I have a son, I realize that different things work for different people and each child is unique and will challenge you in different ways at different times. I agree with the bloggers who focus on the importance of loving your child and not to get too caught up in fretting over past mistakes...just do your best to learn from them and move forward. Parenting is a dynamic relationship, which is a large part of its beauty but also a challenge because the questions change just as you get the answers sometimes.

To those who have decided not to have children, etc... I am very happily married and never felt the need to have children. I was married quite young and spent the first few years finishing my Ph.D., being career oriented, etc. My husband felt similarly - we were not adverse to children but knew they would require sacrificing other things we enjoyed. We were blessed with a son before we were certain that is what we wanted for ourselves. I have never been happier with a surprise though, despite the fact that it changed some things and I am perpetually tired, etc. He has brought us so much joy and has given me perspective and one of the great experiences in life that I never would have known otherwise, even though I have interacted with a number of other peoples' children. Changing some of my career focus, etc. has not been a sacrifice in the way that I thought it would. It is not so much that I am giving something up, it is that I am aching to spend time doing something much more rewarding - spending time with my son. Being a parent has also given me new insights into God's relationship with us, etc. that is quite amazing and profound, even though I do not get to participate in as much "highly philosophical" discussion as in my pre-parent days.

Anyway, I just want to put in plug for all those skeptics out there that parenting has been so much more of a wonderful experience than I could have imagined even though it has also been much more difficult than I could have imagined. I have the support of a wonderful husband and have a lot of blessings in life but still find it very challenging at times and take my hat off to all of those parents out there who are struggling to make ends meet, facing parenting alone, staying home full-time with children, faced with special needs, etc. God bless you in your very noble pursuits, and I hope you feel able to ask for help when it is needed!

Posted by: m&mom | May 24, 2006 4:49 PM

""So, nope. Never failed as a parent."

Father of 2 -- that comment right there proves you have failed. Everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect. The second you assume that you are perfect is the second you prove to the world that you aren't."

Never said I was perfect. Making a mistake and failure are two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS.

Posted by: Father of 2 | May 24, 2006 5:31 PM

Lauri, a very moving story! I can only imagine how relieved your parents must have been to find you OK, and how heartbreaking for them too to see the state of exhaustion you were in. How many of us have at least dreamed that we've done that and much worse.

Megan, thank you so much for your sympathetic story from the daycare side. That kind of miscommunication is really unfortunate but is so easily possible.

38 newlywed: our friends just had twins in their forties.. happy, happy, happy parents. As others have said, whatever the difficulties, having a child is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Posted by: luckymum | May 24, 2006 8:35 PM

I think that I am the worst mother ever, but I learned from the worst mother ever. My daughter is now a one year old, and although I care deeply for her, I can't help feeling annoyed.....I play with her for about 20 minutes and I want to move on to something else. My husband does most of the child rearing. I don't think he's the best at it b/c his memory is the worst memory ever. So maybe we're both the worst parents ever. But it's not like you can take a test and figure that out before you have kids. I had baby sat for kids, ran a kids camp one summer, got a dog for "practice", etc. I would see people with their children and how they would force you to look at their baby pictures and brag about their accomplishments....I thought I was just pining for my own. But like my mother, I think that I secretly hate children and all of the responsibiity that comes with them.

My mother was married at 16 and had me shortly thereafter. I have one other younger brother and I cannot say that we were either loved or cherished. I fear that I may be bringing that into my own family and I hate myself for it. I work to provide for my daughter as best that I can, I ensure she has her material needs met, but I feel as if I will always fall short in the love department. So even though I haven't left her in a hot car or at daycare, I would have to say what I lack is far worse in terms of worst motherhood status.

Posted by: tlawrenceva | May 25, 2006 11:09 AM

I had a daughter not yet two and a newborn son via C-section. I'd been home about 24 hours and did not yet realize I was incredibly ill with a uterine infection and 103-degree fever. I laid down in the afternoon to catch some shuteye and my husband and mother came in with my son and said "Mandy, he's hungry" as I was nursing. I sat up and glared at them and said "I don't care; I'm tired." I stil feel mommy guilt over that one....

Posted by: Mandy | May 25, 2006 11:24 AM

Hey stop yelling at each other and come pick me up from day care already!

Posted by: the kid | May 25, 2006 3:02 PM

tlawrenceva,

I hope you are still checking this blog. It seems that you didn't have the best role model for mothering, but that doesn't mean that things can't be different. I wish you had mentioned your age. If you are young, you may need some fun time of your own to balance out your responsibilities. Older people need fun time also, but generally have done more and don't feel like they are missing out on anything.

If you think that there is a possibility that you may ever hurt or neglect your child's needs, please talk to someone immediately. You child's pediatrician will probably be able to point you toward resources that will help with your parenting skills. You may indeed hate the responsibility of children, but that doesn't mean that you secretly hate your child.

I was never particularly fond of babies. I found that I liked them better when they were walking and talking and could express some of their needs (hungry, thirsty, bathroom, sleepy, etc) without having to guess what the crying meant. As your child grows, you may find that you are interested in more than 20 minutes of playtime because they interact with you in different ways than babies do.

If you babysat and ran a summer kids camp, I would guess that you relate better to older children rather than babies. That doesn't mean that you are a bad mother.

I won't pretend to know how you feel. But, consider the possibility that you are NOT falling short in the love department - maybe you only fall short in showing that you love and cherish your child - after all, your mother did not teach you how to express that.

Please take good care of yourself - eat right, get enough sleep. Children are draining and you will handle things much better if you take care of yourself.

Posted by: oldermom | May 26, 2006 8:49 PM

Wonder why my comments were (apparently) excluded...? Because i mentioned being part of the Women's Movement in the 70's and the work we did for young women, hopefully easing YOUR way in this world, motherhood included.
My response began with ALL MOTHERS WORK!
Certainly what i had to say was a bit more revelatory than the silliness between Fof2
and some of your bloggers.

Posted by: Elizabeth | May 31, 2006 3:06 PM

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