I had my oldest son when I was only nineteen years old and, though this may shock everyone, I didn’t really know what I was doing.
I had my daughter when I was twenty five and, honestly, still didn’t know anything.
In fact – if we want to be really technical, to this day, I have no clue how to parent.
And thanks to technology, I can now be reminded each morning via an app on my phone of all my previous mistakes.
So, about a week ago, when this photo popped up, it got me thinking.
This is a photo of my then 3-year-old, Tucker, asleep in the car. Our car was moving. And I didn’t fix his seatbelt after the photo. I didn’t add a tagline of ‘don’t worry! I’m fixing that chest clip!’. And (everyone get ready to gasp) – I didn’t even know that’s what it was called.
So, I bet you are all thinking right now how I’m a terrible mom, or how you hope I learned my lesson, or maybe you’re busy formulating a strongly worded e-mail explaining the importance of car seat safety to me.
Well, stop all of those things.
I know the importance of car seat safety now. I’m passionate about it. And I DID learn my lesson. And I’m not a terrible mother.
How did I learn my lesson, you ask? GREAT QUESTION!
Well, I was on Facebook one day and received an e-mail from an acquaintance…
It looked something like this:
I can’t believe how you have Tucker buckled in that picture! You know, it’s called a CHEST clip, not a belly-button clip, right?!? He could die! Please, I can’t handle seeing kids buckled in like that. Fix it before something terrible happens! I will follow this email up with a laundry list of information on state laws so you know how bad it is.
That Girl You Met Once
Just kidding, y’all. No one e-mailed me.
And yet I learned learned, not because a stranger in a parking lot snidely informed me, but because friends who were having babies were learning the same things alongside me. We were seeing the research. We were seeing each other. And we are all better because of it.
So, my daughter’s chest clip was stationed on her chest from day one. As was my youngest. And my daughter stayed rear facing until she was over two years old. My youngest will do the same. I always check to make sure the carrier bar on the infant car seat is pushed into the reclined position. I don’t buy car seat accessories that might interfere with the safety of the seat. I know my kids height and weight limits on their seats and I will gladly sacrifice their comfort for their safety any day.
My point is this –
Every single time I have received unsolicited advice from people, I have shut down completely. And maybe that’s just me. Maybe you really did change the life of the woman at the grocery store when you told her that she was failing. Maybe you DID save her daughters life when you informed her of all your research. Maybe. And every child’s life is worth the effort, but I think maybe it’s time we all learned some tact. Myself included. How do we help, and yet not sound like self-righteous jerks? You may be thinking that you don’t care if that’s how you sound, because you care more about children’s lives. In which case, this is not for you.
This is for those of us who know that, with every word we speak, we are given an opportunity to show love. And we want to help, but also be kind and loving. This is for those of us who want to learn better how to choose the right words and make people feel blessed by us, not condemned. This is for those of us who have made mistakes and spoken out of turn. This is for those of us who have a hard time sometimes knowing how to speak kindly and reach people, but who want s badly to do just that.
And for us, I think I have a solution –
What if, instead of trying to fix everything, we just simply loved people and were willing to help when asked?
It’s just a thought.