IT HAS taken me a while to write about it. I have still been digesting it myself, trying to figure out how I feel about it. And I was also embarrassed.
It happened a few weeks ago.
I was yelled at by another parent. Well, I think it was a grandparent, but anyway.
It was just another regular day. Me at home with the kids. We needed some milk and I needed to get it before Mr T's nap.
So I threw the kids in the car and drove to a close convenience store.
Then, with the kids in the car, I ran in and got what I needed. Yes, I left them in the car.
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The shop was a little busy so I didn't get served straight away. I was still in and out in under 5 minutes at best guess.
I could hear Mr T crying. He is going through a separation thing at the moment.
As I raced out of the shop to the car, which was parked at the door, I didn't even get a chance to get to the car to calm the kids before a woman jumped in front of me.
She asked if they were my kids in the car and proceeded to tell me they were screaming in there (oh, really??).
I don't remember much else of the conversation. She said something along the lines of how I should never have left them and it is quite illegal to do so and kept repeating how they had been crying.
She was hostile and very angry.
I got defensive and said something about how nice it was of her to judge someone whose situation she knows nothing about and that it was not illegal to leave your kids in the car. Then I couldn't get out of there fast enough.
The whole thing had me rattled. I have never come up against such judgment and criticism of myself as a parent. Not from a stranger anyway.
When I had my first child, I never stopped anywhere that I couldn't take him with me and I never fuelled up the car on my own.
If he fell asleep in the car on our way to somewhere, I just went home again.
But when you have one, you can easily carry them and grab a few things.
When you have two, it is a different story.
Especially when you have one that doesn't like being carried and tries to squirm from your arms, and then if he gets down, will run away - anywhere. Most likely to the door then the road.
So you make allowances for this. Going to shopping centres when possible, or getting others to pick up odds and ends when you can.
But I have had to fuel up and stop and get milk and bread on the odd occasion with the kids.
It is just easier for all involved to leave them in the car to pop in and pay or grab the bread and milk.
I never stop unless I can park right at the door so they are always in my vision and ear-shot.
I never leave them when it is excessively hot, nor if I think I will be more than a minute or two.
Most of the time they are happy to sit and wait, and often don't make a peep, so clearly this woman had caught us all on a bad day.
I question my abilities as a parent every day and judge myself constantly; I don't need anyone else doing it.
I know that everyone has their opinions and probably a lot about parenting and how other people do it. I am no saint, I am sure I have judged other parents. But in my head, to myself. I have never put those judgments on anyone else.
Because no matter what I think, I have no idea what really goes on, or other circumstances behind what I see.
And it is none of my business anyway.
My children were not in danger. I could see them and hear them. I was away from them for mere minutes.
I just don't understand why she felt the need to attack me in this way.
I have had to do this again since the incident, and I have to say, I felt horrible about it. I felt like every person within eye shot was eyeing me off, judging my "bad" parenting.
FYI in Queensland the law is that it is illegal to leave a child unattended for an unreasonable amount of time, with the penalty being jail.
How much is unreasonable? As long as it takes to buy a handful of groceries? I don't think so.
Just this morning I left both of my children unattended while I took a shower.
I am pretty sure that took more time than running in to pay for petrol or buying some milk and bread.