I forgot about the baby in my arm!
There’s something I never thought I would say! How is that even possible? I’ve read about mums & dads who have forgotten their children in their cars. While my heart breaks for those who have lost their children this way, I could never relate to the idea of forgetting your child. Even a quiet, sleeping child. Surely you’re aware of the child in some corner of your mind? If you drop your child off at school or day-care every day, you should be able to do it on auto-pilot. That’s what I used to think. I drop my daughter off at the daycare, before work, every day. Today, I forgot my daughter. She wasn’t in a car seat behind me. She wasn’t asleep either. She was cuddling in my arms.
I got off the train and crossed the traffic lights. Then I started walking towards my office. I had my daughter on my left hip, my left arm around her and my right hand holding the strap of the shoulder bag. My mind was full of office-related stress and I was planning my day ahead. Usually, I talk to her as I walk to her day-care and try to gauge her mood. Today was different. I was lost in my thoughts about work at the office. She was very quiet. So quiet that I forgot about her!
On the way to the office, there was a man holding a STOP sign and people waiting to be allowed to pass. I went on auto-pilot, my maternal instincts woke up and I instantly started to adjust my body to protect my daughter as we walked on. It was just a group of pre-occupied office-goers, not an unruly crowd, but I didn’t want her to feel uncomfortable or jostled and I certainly didn’t want her chucking a tantrum amidst the busy scene.
Wait! I suddenly stopped walking. Wasn’t I supposed to drop her off at the day-care?
I burst out laughing. “Why didn’t you tell me, sweetie?”, I asked her as I kissed her face. She was quiet. She just looked at me like I was talking to myself. I guess I was.
I walked to her daycare and got in the lift with another mum of 2 children. As we went in to sign the register, I said to the Assistant Centre Director, “I forgot about her today and nearly went to the office without realizing that I had a baby in my arms“. Every single adult in that room burst into laughter. The ACD nearly rolled off her chair.
“I’m sure you would’ve realized it once you went to the office“, she said, still laughing.
Over the next few minutes, I repeated the tale to her room staff and another mum. We all laughed. As I write this, I can’t help but remember that she was quiet all this while. She was a bit clingy when I dropped her things off but she let me go without too much of a fuss. I can’t help but wonder how much of that she understood. Kids can be so perceptive sometimes. They can also mis-understand things just as easily. I hope I didn’t offend her.
A slight pang of guilt tugs at me as I look at my beautiful baby, on the monitor, sleeping in her bed.
Today, I can relate to those parents who sometimes forget a sleeping child in the car. Work stress can be so consuming sometimes and, as much as we try, it just takes over our minds and we falter. It doesn’t mean we don’t love our children. Do our children understand or do they hurt?