Every mother has a story about a time she lost her child. Even when the situation resolves positively, the sinking feeling in the stomach takes a long time to subside. And, I believe that is a good thing! When people hear your story they quickly assure you that you are not a bad mother, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up. Not only does this not help, it really is off the point. The problem arose, not because of who you are, but because of what you did or did not do.
I’ve heard stories about a large family who inadvertently left one of their children at a rest stop. It was quite some time and distance before anyone figured it out. And we all have heard the tragic stories of a parent who forgot about his/her child in the backseat of a car, and that child died of suffocation after being left there for hours.
Benjamin Franklin is credited with the expression: Experience is the best teacher. I learned while teaching my children history that this is not a correct rendering of what he said. It turned out to be a bad paraphrase. What he actually said was, “Experience is a dear [meaning expensive] teacher; the fool will learn in the school of no other!” In other words, those who must learn everything by experience are fools indeed.
So what can the mom do who had a “near miss” with one of her children? Instead of looking for sympathy or reassurance, she would do well to share with family and friends the providential care of God in watching over her child when she didn’t do so well enough. Even if the child’s behavior was beyond her control, as a mom she is still the one in charge. The buck stops with her. Her sharing this can be of benefit to other moms who might not be as watchful as they should be.
The memory of a potentially awful outcome that wasn’t realized doesn’t fade. And I think that is a good thing. I, myself, get nauseous thinking back on situations like this with my own children, even though they took place decades ago. I believe this is God’s way of having us remember and never forget our shortcomings and His grace, as we bring our children through the hazards of growing up! And, in the process, if we share these experiences, we can help other moms learn vicariously, that losing a child does not have to be an inevitable occurrence.