Confessional Fridays: Earthquakes Keep Me Honest

Or, better said, earthquakes make me a better mom.

Sometimes when I’m sitting at home and Isa’s napping I want really badly to run to the corner store to grab something. Sometimes it’s a silly item like Cheesy Poofs. More often it’s something more urgent like toilet paper.

Our corner store is a half block from us. It takes 30 seconds to walk there and the same to walk back. There is never anyone in the store so it might take a minute to find what I need and pay for it. So we’re talking 2-3 minutes away from home, only a hundred yards away. There have been times when I’m so close to doing it (toilet paper) but I never have and you know why? Earthquakes. You never know when an earthquake will hit (and one will, eventually hit where I live) and if when it happens I sure as hell can’t be 100 yards away from my baby buying cheesy poofs.

Of course there are other things that could happen. I wonder if a fire is more statistically probable than an earthquake? The truth is I have no idea. All I know is I never worry about fires or any other calamities. Maybe it’s because I KNOW an earthquake will hit, eventually; it’s always possible seismic activity that keeps me from doing that thing that seems almost okay, even though I know it’s really not.

Some risks I have to take. I cannot bring Isa to our building’s laundry room. It doubles as the storage room for the garbage receptacles (that’s right, the bins that holds disgusting, putrid garbage sit inches away from the machines that clean your clothes!) and it’s really gross and dirty. We’ve seen rats down there multiple times. So when I do laundry she stays inside in her childproofed playroom (or her crib if she’s sleeping). Our laundry room is about two apartments away and down a small flight of stairs. It’s not exactly close but there is nothing I can do. I have to go down there alone. And I think that the ground might shake every time I do.

There are also instances when I have to leave Isa in the car parked on the street while I load it up (or do the reverse). I only do this when it’s parked right in front of our house, but it still feels irresponsible, especially when I’m doubled parked in the street.

And don’t even get me started with how badly I sometimes want to leave her in the car while I run into the store to grab something really quick. It will only take a minute! She’ll be okay, right? Thank god for earthquakes and the fact that one will definitely hit San Francisco sometime (probably soon) or I’d probably be leaving my daughter in her car seat while I brave the line at the post office. (On a related note, does anything take longer, or more energy, than getting a child in and out of a car seat?!)

City living with a one year old can be difficult. I’m constantly trying to reconcile safety with necessity (and convenience). I have to confess, when I’m tired and the car is parked blocks away I really want to run and get it while Isa plays quietly, instead of lugging her and all our shit all the way to the car (or driving the car back, double parking and packing it up). I know I can’t go get the car without her, but there are times when I really, really want to. I know I can’t do it though, because anything could happen at any time. I know I can’t do it because I’m her mother and it’s my number one responsibility to protect my little girl.

I know I can’t do it because at any minute, without any warning, there could be an earthquake. And my little one year old has not yet learned about the triangle of life, so I better be there to help her find it when the ceiling starts caving in.

There are so many other questionable/irresponsible things I do as a mom, like giving Isa items that have fallen on to the floor (after half-heartedly brushing them off, of course) and forgetting to brush her teeth in the mornings; reheating milk that has been out for over an hour; frequently forgetting to disinfecting her hands before we eat when we’re out; giving her a bath in a tub with pink flora growing around the rim (and then running into her room to grab a washcloth real quick) – you know, horrible things that no mother should do, let alone admit doing. Too bad earthquakes can’t instill in me the fear of all wrong that could befall us ever. If they could I’d be the world’s most perfect mom!

What fears keep you honest?

16 responses

  1. Were you reading my mind today? The boys are napping and I really want to run to the Dollar Store. We were there yesterday and I bought the perfect boxes to organize some of our stuff. I want/need more and knowing the Dollar Store, what’s there today may not be there tomorrow. It’s a 10-minute errand at most by myself but double that or more with them. The fear of a fire is what gets me to stay (well, that and it’s really a bit too far). I know of too many people that have lost pets in random house fires. No way will I risk my boys over $1 boxes.

    I hate leaving one in the car while I get the other one. I always worry that the one already in will get kidnapped from our garage (and I leave the door shut) or the one inside will fall or get hurt somehow. And I have a system for getting them in & out of the stroller so I never take my eyes off of them lest they get kidnapped in the parking lot. I may have watched too many Lifetime movies or after school specials to instill this kidnapping fear in me.

    • I forgot to mention that I leave Isa in her stroller on the sidewalk and run in to grab whatever I left inside.

      I can’t even imagine how much I’d want to do all these things if I had two. I was thinking of all you twin mamas as I wrote this and I think of you when I have to get Isa out of the car to dip inside somewhere for 30 measly seconds. You guys are warriors!

  2. For me it’s clean hands. I’m totally OCD about my own hands and have had to give up about my kids’ hands — or go crazy.

    It sounds so hard to have the threat of earthquake looming over you! For us, a tornado would be more likely.

    And yes, it takes a LOT (of time and energy) to get a kid in/out of a car seat!

    • The threat of an earthquake doesn’t really weigh me down. I’m scare of it happening but I don’t obsess about it (despite what this post might make you think). It’s more like I know it will happen so it forces me to be more careful and make better choices, if that makes sense.

  3. This is only marginally related to your topic, but (as they say) it hit me like a thunderbolt. I was recently having lunch with a friend who has a newborn, and I volunteered to watch the baby in her stroller while my friend stood in line at the food court. I already had my meal. I realized that I didn’t pick up any utensils and I stood up and started to walk away to get them. *I almost left a newborn baby sitting at our unattended table in a very crowded mall while I went to get a plastic spoon!* Suddenly I realized what I was doing and sat back down, but I was dumbfounded that my motherly instinct came so close to failing me!

    • That is not marginally related to my topic – that is exactly my topic! Those are the kinds of things I’m always wondering if I can pull. Can I leave her in the stroller on the street if the door is open and I can see her? But then the cat might get out! So I leave it mostly closed and rush around the whole thinking, someone could be taking her right now! It’s so hard to find the balance between sanity and safety.

      • I wasn’t tempted to wander off though – I was oblivious! Which is why I was so shocked when my senses returned… was I really about to leave a newborn there without a second thought?

    • I’ve had those moments too, moments when Mi.Vida find me at the store and is like, “where is Isa” and I’m like, “oh… she’s…, wait, shit!” And then I realize I’ve left her at the end of the aisle while I’m shopping. Not good.

  4. I so get this post. I live in a town of 1000 people. I have a po box at the post office, and it takes 15 seconds to check. My question is, do I leave him in the car, wih the air conditioning blasted or take time to unbuckle and lug him in? People would notice if someone stole our car. But A lot of my decision makin isn’t on earthquake possibility, but someone else deeming what I do as a dangerous for my child and doing something about it. Most of the time, if I know I’m in and out, I leave him with the AC. If I need stamps or something, he comes with me. I also have a lot of respect for mothers of multiples!!

    • I also sometimes make choices based on how I expect others would judge me if they were watching me or saw me leave my daughter in the car. Once Mi.Vida and I saw a kid in the car and we couldn’t determine who was the mom so we waited to make sure he hadn’t been forgotten (those stories are HORRIFIC). Anyway, the mom came sauntering down the block about two minutes later (with three other kids in tow) and I remember thinking, huh, was that irresponsible of her? My first thought was, “yes, certainly it was” but then I thought of all the times I’ve been tempted to do it. I mean the kid was probably alone in the car for 3 minutes. Is that really so bad? I’m not sure.

  5. I’m so jealous you have a store so close! I’d be really tempted too. I remember when G was a newborn and he would fall asleep in the car, I would SPRINT into the house to let the dogs outside so they wouldn’t wake him up, then go get him out of the car (locked in the driveway). But my heart would be POUNDING the whole time- I have a very irrational fear of kidnappers.

    I guess the biggest risk I take with him these days is I leave him alone on the floor for a few minutes at a time with the dogs in the room. They are super sweet, but theoretically, Hank (100 lbs) could run him over or the little ones could snap at him, although they never have shown even a hint of aggression to him.

  6. Every time i stop to drop off the dry cleaning i want to leave Isaac in the car, not 10 feet away from the open shop door. The fear of some asshole calling the police and us having a problem finalizing our adoption is what stops me…and so i do lug him out of the car and take him with me.

  7. Fear of my kids realizing I’m gone and losing their trust in me keeps me honest. 🙂 But I know just what you mean, A friend of mine posted an article not too long ago about keeping kids in the car, and how it’s actually safer to do so than to drag them across a busy parking lot!

  8. The comments on this post are totally making me laugh– I’m nodding in agreement with all of them. I do the same thing– I have several places (corner stores, restaurants, etc) that I could visit and be back in 5 minutes or less– but I just can’t do it. I can’t leave him at home– and that’s a good thing.

    I did, once, leave him asleep in the car while I ran in somewhere– we were in a safe area, the weather was mild, I cracked the windows, I locked the car and I could see him the entire time I was in the store. Still felt horribly guilty although I do not believe he was EVER in any danger.

    But yep, the fear of “what-if” is the fear of God…

  9. oh I so get what you mean! I cannot leave D even when I can be back in a few minutes, and this with the fact that M’s granny lives with us! I just fear losing him so freaking much.

    PS: I nominated you for an ward. check it out.

  10. The week L was born, a woman left her baby in the car at a gas station in our (usually very safe!) area just to run in and pay for gas. The car was stolen and the baby kidnapped. They eventually found the baby safe, but that story has kept me from ever even considering leaving L in the car – no matter how much of a pain he is to get in and out of his car seat!

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