We've all done things as parents that we are not necessarily proud of. We've all made mistakes. Which is why the inclination to judge other moms and dads has always been so puzzling to me, even as I've been completely guilty of it.
Life can change in the blink of an eye, and it can happen to any single one of us, at any random time—an important notion that is all too easy to forget in the heat of the moment, when you've just heard about another parent's near-miss.
"Do you see this little girl?" she wrote. "Today I did the unthinkable and forgot about her in the car. Our family arrived at a friend's house and in our excitement we all darted out, assuming that someone else had remembered to grab the youngest member of our clan. But no one remembered her. And she sat for about twenty minutes crying alone before one of us grabbed her. It was such a small mistake but it could have had devastating consequences."
"Thank god we were parked in a safe place," Eberle continued. "Thank god it wasn't hot outside. Thank god she wasn't alone for long. Thank god she has already forgotten about it and forgiven us. But it will be a long time before I forgive myself. There are no excuses for what I did. And part of me doesn't want to share this. I don't want the world to know how badly I've failed. But then I think that I have to share this. I have to own up to my mistakes. I have to tell the world how far I am from perfect. And how if I did this, anyone could do this. And that scares me but also makes me judge a little less and makes me pay attention [a] whole lot more."
Wow. It takes a lot of guts to admit to something like this on social media.
“I was so scared to be public with my story, but the reactions that I’ve received from the post have been very supportive and positive,” Eberle told Parents.com. “As parents, we try so hard to do the right thing, but we’re all still human beings and so sometimes we fail. I’m still processing what happened but I wanted to share the message that if I could do this, anyone could do it. I’m always so cautious and careful and I made a mistake. I think my readers can really relate to that feeling.”
It seems she's right. After Eberle shared her post, an amazing thing started to happen: Instead of busting out the claws, her commenters showed up to lend their support and cop to their own parenting mistakes. One forgot her toddler in a van. Another's 4-year-old jumped into the pool and almost drowned while she was busy playing cards. And a third had a boombox fall into her kid's Pack N Play. The list goes on.
I once let my kids walk knee-deep in the same lagoon at Disney World where the toddler was dragged away last year by an alligator. Here's a post I wrote about it.
The point is, as Eberle so eloquently put it, we are always so much closer to the edge than any of us realize. And we all need to forgive those who make mistakes—"Even," she explained, "if the person who you need to forgive is yourself."