Hey, Jenny Mollen, I've Messed Up as a Parent, Too

Meredith Gordon

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Hi Jenny,

I can safely speak for everyone who read your Instagram post — about dropping your 5-year-old son, Sid, and accidentally fracturing his skull — by saying we are all so glad he is OK. And I can safely speak for every parent following along by saying, “Been there.” Oh, we have all been there.

I can imagine the scene. You’re holding your child and seconds later, thump! You weren’t doing anything wrong, but he wiggled, or you lost your grip, or who knows? Thump, he’s on the ground. Worse yet, he’s on his head. Your heart stops. You go into laser-focused-mom mode and spring into action, all while trying not to let on that inside, you’re freaking out, wondering if you’ve just caused irreparable harm to your most precious creation — your child! There’s a monologue going on inside your head that repeats, “This is all my fault. I am the worst parent ever!”

I can imagine the scene because I’ve been there. And, every one of your followers who has had children has been there. We’ve all had near misses. Me, I plowed through a red light, into on coming traffic, with my then-5-year-old child sitting in the backseat. We struck three cars, spun around twice, nearly flipped and landed — and I do mean landed — backwards, dented and blurry-eyed somewhere on the opposite side of very busy intersection in the middle of Los Angeles.

We’ve all had near misses. Me, I plowed through a red light, into on coming traffic, with my then 5-year-old child sitting in the backseat.

Why did I plow through a red light as if I were driving an Indy car? Honestly, I just didn’t see it. Literally, I didn’t see it. I wasn’t drunk. I wasn’t on my phone. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I just didn’t see it. Like you, I had an accident.

We were all OK. Everyone except for me, that is. Physically, I was fine, but I couldn’t get past the fact that I’d caused my son harm. A parent’s job is to protect his or her children, and here I was, the person he looked to for that protection, in the middle of a dangerous accident. It took me a long time to let myself off the hook. It wasn’t until my son said, “Mommy, you always say you’ll forgive us. You have to do the same for yourself,” that I realized I had to let it go. I had to give myself a break for not being superhuman.

It sounds like Sid is going to make a full recovery. Just make sure you care for yourself now as kindly as you’ve cared for him. Stuff happens to all of us. Near misses are the one thing all parents have in common. We don’t always talk about it, but we’ve all had a similar incident.

You’re not a bad mom. Don’t beat yourself up too badly. Even accident-prone moms deserve a break. And a little TLC.