Am I Stupid?

IMG_3742It happened again this week. For maybe the fifth time in his life, I left my youngest child some place he wasn’t supposed to be.

And he’s getting tired of it and frankly, I can’t say I really blame the kid.

Someone should take away my mom license.

I dropped him off yesterday afternoon at the elementary school in town about a mile and a half away from our house for what I thought was a 4:00 basketball practice.

I even had a nagging feeling while doing so — because practices are usually on Wednesdays — but I checked my iPhone and, yup, I was in the right place at the right time, according to my calendar.

I waited as he slowly made the walk from my car to the gym door, a sulky trip since he was mad at me because in his mind, I was somehow the reason kids had homework. Yes, that’s right: I’m the culprit. He’s resisting doing his homework lately, which is really out of character, but he’s busy blaming me, his teacher and really just THE MAN for the nightly 30 minutes of work that takes him away from looking at one screen or another or bouncing a Nerf basketball off his bedroom wall.

I returned home to my laptop, which I spent so much time looking at while working for my former employer that now that I’m out of work, find myself automatically opening up and wondering what to do with myself.

About a half hour later, the doorbell rang and I opened the door to find my 11-year-old standing there on the front step, his big blue eyes brimming with tears.

“Did I mess up the time?” I asked, and he burst past me and stomped up the stairs to his room.

By the time I got him to unlock the door for me, I found him sitting on his bed rubbing his legs, which were bright pink from making the long walk home in his basketball shorts with nothing more than a sweatshirt on top.

Did I mention it was about 20 degrees in my part of New Jersey yesterday afternoon?

I held out some cozy sweatpants to cover his freezing legs and brought him downstairs to the den to lie down on the couch in front of the fire and tucked his favorite blanket around him and left him alone.

After he had some time to pretend to fall asleep, I came in with a big mug of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and a big splash of half and half, just the way he likes it.

“How about you do your homework in here tonight by the fire?” I suggested, and he took a sip of his cocoa and nodded his head.

His body and his mood thawed and eventually, he was happily showing me how good he was solving the evening’s math problems.

I apologized for the hundredth time as he was getting ready for bed later that night.

“It’s okay, Mom,” he said, but really, it’s not. If his dad kept leaving him the wrong place, I’d be all like, “What’s his problem?”

What the hell is my problem?

So far, I’ve left him alone in the neighbor’s basement when he was about four while we all went out to deliver Thanksgiving dinners (he told me he jumped on their trampoline to keep busy until we got back), and at the wrong baseball practice that left him sitting on the curb until I returned some 90 minutes later. I even bought him a cell phone last year to avoid these mixups.

I’ve also left his older sister off the wrong time for a basketball game and left my oldest son, who was probably around 5 at the time, playing outside on the swing set in the backyard while I drove his two younger sisters to a babysitter for the day.

I remember looking into the back of the minivan through my rearview mirror about 10 minutes into the trip and not seeing his head, told him to sit up in his seat.

“He’s not here,” piped up one of the sisters.

Really, you didn’t think this was important information to share with me?

And I don’t know what to cite as the cause. Certainly, it can’t be because I have too many kids (since half are away at school right now). And it’s certainly not because I’m a working mom (because I am currently unemployed).

It’s not even because I was busy making dinner (since the kids went to their dad’s last night for that).

Methinks perhaps I’m stupid.

Which was confirmed earlier today when I loaded about three months worth of New York Times daily papers, all bundled and tied, into the back of my minivan to drop off at town recycling center on my way to the grocery store first thing this morning.

They’d been tied up and sitting on my mudroom floor for about a week and I just couldn’t look at them one more second.

I had noticed on our town website that there would be no recycling pickup on my usual day this week – Wednesday – because of Lincoln’s Birthday (I mean, what?) and the center would be closed as well.

But I forgot today was Wednesday. I thought it was Tuesday. I’m all mixed up in the head.

So I went not once but twice to the recycling center this morning, sitting in my minivan and staring at the locked gate blocking the entrance while mentally composing the snippy phone call I was going to make to borough hall when I returned home.

And then I realized that it was Wednesday.

I drove home and saw my neighbor Susan had put a bunch of cardboard boxes out for recycling pick up and instead of texting her that there was no pick up today, I went and dragged a giant box out of my garage and added it to her pile.

So, what can I chalk this all up to? Super-early dementia? Dumb-dumbiness? I am alarmed.

However, since I was so encouraged to learn the other day that I wasn’t the only one hoarding baby teeth, I’m hoping maybe you guys can share some of your own not-so-stellar-moments in scheduling. Or parenting, I suppose.

I’d like to feel like less of a dope.



24 thoughts on “Am I Stupid?

  1. Amy, I’m a friend of Tara’s and I’ll share my own parenting low points. I lost my youngest on the ski mountain when he was 6. I followed the wrong kid, wearing very similar clothes. I waited at the bottom of the mountain for a truly long time until I finally told the ski patrol. Smart boys that they are, they radioed the main lodge and found my little pumpkin there. Happy ending yes, but I did the same thing at a visit to a South Carolina plantation the next summer. I have to believe I’m providing him with material for his college essays.

    • Hi Gloria … Glad you found me and thanks for sharing your tale of oh-no. I believe this mishaps are character building and helping the kids learn to think on their feet and fend for themselves. Or at least that’s what I tell my self … 🙂

  2. Oh Amy, there are too many of these tales in my years of raising 6 kids. Among these episodes was leaving one at CCD in the rain, where he weathered the storm in the branches of a tree for an hour. Dropping kids off at the wrong baseball or soccer fields. Leaving a 2-year-old child at home on Christmas while 2 carloads of us went to dinner at my Dad’s. I thought he was with the dad, and he thought he was with me. Thank goodness we were only in Middletown, and a neighbor had found him wandering around outside in his red toggle coat. They’ve all grown up just fine as capable, resilient, and thankfully forgiving adults. But I’m pretty sure that these stories may have something to do with my daughter-in-law (one of only 2 children herself) being reluctant to ask me to babysit. Oh well. I’m not going to tell her to just wait…it happens to all of us. You are definitely not alone!

  3. Well, my parents always told the story about how they left my brother at a gas station while they were driving from NY to Florida for vacation, around 1964. (I guess people weren’t flying to Florida much in the 60s!!!) He was about 7 at the time ( I wasn’t born yet) and when they realized he was missing (about 30 minutes down the road), my mother almost had a stroke. They went back and he was sitting with the owner happily having a Coke. The thing that always amazed me about the story is that they were able to find the exact gas station in an unfamiliar spot with no cell phones or GPS to use! Guess he turned out ok, though, as he’s a corporate attorney in NYC…

  4. I really enjoy your blog but this entry, in particular, had me laughing. Years ago, I forgot to pick up one of my children at daycare. In fact, I think I did it at least once to each of them. I forget about practices – thankfully someone usually reminds me, I miss appointments (hopefully that won’t happen anymore since I changed my default reminder to more than 10 minutes before), and I’ve probably done much more but I can’t think right now. If my children were around right now, I’m sure they would be happy to remind me.

    Mishaps are a part of life and the best thing we can do is go with the flow.

  5. My parenting low point began the day my son was born. He was born in the morning, and throughout the day the nurses came in and took him away to weigh him and measure him and all that other stuff. At the end of the day the nurse asked me how many diapers I had changed that day. I told her that I hadn’t changed any, I assumed that when the nurses took him they did that. My ex-husband claims I thought I was in a hotel.

    Not many weeks later I was at a new mommie’s morning out program and my son had a nuclear explosion in his diaper that soiled everything he was wearing. Well, I had plenty of extra diapers, etc. in my diaper bag, but it had never dawned on me that I was also supposed to put extra changes of clothes in there. The other mothers looked at me like I was from another planet.

  6. I have left my new born son (well, 2 weeks old) in the hospital waiting room while I went in to see the pediatrician for my older (5 year old) daughter. Finished the visit and came straight out to the car and drove home. Only when my husband asked where the baby was did I remember the little guy, and raced back to the hospital waiting room for him. Luckily the nurses had him and he was sleeping all through this drama.
    But if he has abandonment issues later on in life and needs therapy, you know who to blame…..

  7. Amy, I forgot to pick Kevin up from kindergarden because I was at a garage sale. The school secertary had to call me and find out where I was. I only had 2 kids to keep track of so really you’re doing quite well, don’t be so hard on yourself!

  8. How about getting the entire Monmouth Mall on lockdown (Code Adam) when I couldn’t find Caroline. Apparently, this means that all exits to the Mall are closed off and no one with a child can leave. Little rat was hiding in a circular clothes rack in Gymboree… we found her when she came out of the rack when she heard me crying. I was pregnant with William at the time which means she was less than 2 1/2.

    • My wife had my son in Florida when he was about two and he did just that (hid in a clothes rack for about half an hour.) They were looking all over but one of the people helping to search said he is probably very close to where she last saw him which was the case.

  9. Amy, today alone I forgot to drop the kid off who was in my car, drove past another kid drop off spot, and forgot to sign up for kid activity which I was supposed to drive another kid to for said activity; Instead I took a nap! it was a total fail, You are not alone. tomorrow will be a new day.

  10. I once took Lauren to a tennis lesson in fair haven fields, dropped Kyle off at rec, went food shopping and then went home and put Allison down for a nap. At 12:00 when I went to pick the kids up from rec Kyle came running to the car panicked. “Wheres Lauren?” He asked, very worried. It was only then that I realized I never picked her up from her tennis lesson. And this was before cell phones. Thank goodness her tennis instructor was a great person and kept her busy through the rest of the morning. Talk about feeling like a heel. Do you feel better now?!

  11. Well, there’s the time I flew to Maui with Tylenol in a zip lock bag and had to rush to the ER in Central Maui and explain why I suspected my two year old had chewed at least two tylenol tablets. (At least the doctor looked like Keanu Reeves). Then there’s the time I had to rush my 7 month old to the ER because he flipped himself off the kitchen table in his bouncy chairs. I try to read the warning labels now without saying the instructions are meant for rookies. Oh, and the time I drove my three year old to Day Care with his car seat safety strap dragging outside of the car. We couldn’t figure out why every few miles he would scream and his chair would lurch. Turns out the strap was getting wrapped around the tire every so often. But of course I didn’t stop to check it out and told him to quit being so dramatic. Mother of the Year!

    • Oh Erin, you had me laughing! It reminded me how — on a few occasions — I had put an infant strapped in a car seat on the back seat and forgotten to fasten the seatbelt around it. A quick stop or sharp turn sent the seat, along with the baby strapped inside, tumbling to the car floor. It’s a miracle these kids still have all their fingers and toes! Thanks for sharing your great stories … 🙂

  12. Yes stuff happens and the kids will make sure you feel bad about it for the rest of your life. At this moment, I can’t think of a time when I left anyone, but I do remember strapping my son in his car seat and we drove off only to realize I left the video camera on top of the roof which blew off. I didn’t care about the camera all I could think of is…good thing it wasn’t the kid. How could I be that stupid?? That was the first child and I had another on the way. That is probably when I realized 2 was enough for this mom to handle. Now they are both in college so I guess I did ok…now I only say stupid stuff that I should have mumbled and not really said out loud.

  13. Listen, I’m not even a single parent and I still periodically lose my kids. It’s HARD to keep track of who goes where and when, there are so many activities to keep track of and they change all the time depending on the weather. Don’t beat yourself up. You’re only human and doing it by yourself is really hard. Hopefully one of them will start driving soon and that will help, my daughter very often does backup duty for my son these days, now that she has her license.

  14. Thanks for sharing Amy. When the news covers stories of monster moms who leave their babies in cars, I cry instead of get angry- not something I share often with people. Few understand what it’s like to be in that mental state of busy and exhaustion. When I was a new mom and suffered from a lot of sleep deprivation I would always have to constantly check where my son was, where I put him, who was caring for him. Luckily, I pulled through and my mind rests easier today. Every now and then I have to resist the urge to call his school or sitter to ask if I dropped him off. Now to conquer the insomnia. Still working on that.

    • Hey Jen! I totally agree. I know someone who left her car running while she shopped in Target for like over an hour and another mom confessed on Facebook to, very briefly, leaving her infant in the car while she went into the supermarket to food shop. Crazy stuff happens when our brains are going a million miles a minute over a million different things. Thanks for sharing … xo

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