Monday, June 22, 2009

Flashbacks in the Texas Heat

Every year when summer arrives, I find myself climbing into a hot, hot vehicle in our Texas heat, and EVERY SINGLE YEAR I torture myself by closing the doors and sitting there in the heat for a moment... feeling the heat that is so hot that my breath is literally taken away.

Why do I do this? Why would someone intentionally do this to themself?

It goes back to the year 2002. We had recently moved to our home here where we live now... and we still had a double-wide that we were trying to sell back in our old town about an hour away. We'd occasionally travel there to mow the grass, fix up little things that needed to be done, etc.

On one particularly hot day, the whole family piled in the truck and headed up there to do a little maintenance work. The place was in the country on a half-acre of land. No trees.... Just dirt and rocks.

Three little boys ages 12, 10, and 5 were romping around, running in and out, and playing hard. One tiny little 2-year-old girl was right there in the midst of the boys - she was their shadow/their tag-along. All three boys were very good with Riley. She wasn't annoying yet, just cute, chubby and adorable. They doted on her. We didn't have to worry about cars as we were at a dead-end on a very country road.

I was inside painting trim boards. We had air conditioning, so my job wasn't bad... just time consuming and boring.

Outside, Jason whirled around the yard atop our riding lawn mower that we'd transported up there in the back of the truck. He was minding his own business, getting his job done. At one point as he made his way around the yard, he noticed that the truck door was open, so he swung by and shut the door. Afterall, we sure didn't need a dead battery when it was time to head back home.

What he didn't know was that one little boy had forgotten a toy in the truck. He climbed in, got the toy, and little sister climbed in after him. One little boy climbed back out assuming little sister would follow. He went on to play. She stayed in the truck.

This would be about the time that Jason rode by and saw the truck door open.

Praise God, as Jason continued mowing, his eyes were drawn to a tiny, red-faced little girl standing on the truck seat, crying her little eyes out. He jumped off the mower and rushed to the truck where he grabbed her burning little body out and rushed her indoors to me. Her face was so red. Her body was so hot.

The guilt I felt that day for not even realizing that she wasn't right with the boys.... the guilt of not even realizing she was missing... the guilt Jason felt for shutting that door... the "what if's" raced through our heads. I couldn't let it go!!! I sat down on the floor over one of the floor-vents, rocked her in my arms as she cried, and I just felt numb! It was one of the worst feelings I've ever felt!!!

And to this day, 7 years later, I still find myself climbing into hot vehicles and closing the door... staring straight ahead... remembering that day and what she must've gone through. I sit there til it takes my breath away. I still feel that horrible guilt of "How could I have not noticed she wasn't still with her brothers!" We're not sure how long she was actually in there, but in 100 degree weather, she couldn't have survived much longer.

Why do I still shut myself in a car as a form of punishment to myself? Why can't I just be thankful that God made Jason see her when he did? She's nine now and has absolutely no memory of it whatsoever. But I do. I wish I could forget!


I think every family has 'that kid' that continually gives them scares. Riley has been 'that kid' in our family. This is not the ONLY time in her life that she'd just about given me a heart attack, but we'll save those for another time. But in the picture of her above, you can see some marks on her face from another incident involving sharp rocks, a ladder, and ugggh. Yes, she's given me lots of my gray hairs!

So does anyone else have a "Mommy Moment" that you can't let go of... where you have felt like such a huge failure? Or is it just me???


  1. Oh Erica, that is so scary! I could cry reading this. My memory verse last week is perfect for you. Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Please allow the Lord to remove this guilt and condemnation. He saved your precious child.

    I guess the worst thing that has happened where I know guilt has tried to come in was when I was TRYING to get our daughter to start eating food (other than baby food). As a new Mom, and at the time a perfectionist -- I thought my daughter needed to stay clean. I would get so angry when she would get food on her clothes as she fought to spit the food out of her mouth. Four years later, I am a little wiser (I pray) As I look back I see how I added even more stress to the situation. To this day our daughter is PICKY and will ONLY EAT what she wants.

  2. Big hugs! When my son was about 11 months old and had only been walking for a little over a month, my husband and I were working in the garage. I had to leave to go in the house for something and thought he'd heard me say I was leaving, but he didn't. My son left the safety of the garage and ran out into the road. We were lucky that the car going down the road was alert because they stopped just in time to not hit him. I think of it everytime I see that man drive down the street. I think of it everytime someone drives too fast down the street. I think of it everytime my sons get near the edge of the sidewalk

    yeah it's something that I'll never forget

  3. Bless your heart!

    I know exactly what you're going through. Not even a month ago we were at a pool party for our baseball team. Caleb(my 2 year old) had a life vest on all night long and he wouldn't go near the pool. When we were getting ready to leave I took it off and he was playing with a ball around the outside of the pool. Next thing I knew someone was pulling him out. Noone saw him fall in and we have no idea how long he was in there but when he came out his lips were blue and he sounded like he had gallons of water in his chest. After a night at the hospital he was okay thank the Lord!!!!!! I still think about it and it almost puts me to the floor. Why wasn't I could I have not seen him go in? Praying for you!

  4. Praise God for protecting your little lamb. No mother outside of fairy tales doesn't have a "mommy moment." Mine was 15 years ago at a rest stop in Deleware when just after dark I locked my 18 month old in the car...

  5. There are too many to count...and too many to think about, or I get sick to my stomach. :) Thank goodness we are human too! It is really hard though, to let it go. The guilt is forever there. How could I? What is wrong with me? I'm the MOM! I too have one of those times where my oldest locked himself in an old car in our yard in the summer as well. And then not too long ago, I locked my baby in the van, the keys sitting beside him. Triple A to the rescue! Thank God our kids are so forgiving, and that they don't remember much of what happens when they are young!! :)

  6. Erica, I can't even imagine the horror as I sit here crying while reading this post. Living in AZ, we have the same weather and every night on the news there is a story that usually involoves a child or animal being left in a steaming hot car. It just breaks my heart. I know she is fine, but as a mother that image is not easily erased. I pray that with time, the image slowly leaves you so that you may have peace.

    Colin is my boy that gives me those 'mommy moments'! When he was just shy of 2 he broke his femur, the largest bone in his body; and we were at church no less! I was the mom that didn't see it happen, I just heard the screams from behind me. I then porceded to say 'he's ok, no need to worry'. It was Lisa over at Family Life that said I should get him to a hospital; that's is when I started to panic. It wasn't until after he was admitted that I 'shoulda, coulda, woulda' my self to death. I couldn't even hold him, I just stood my his crib cage and sobbed. He was put into a spics cast and now no one, even him, can't tell what happened 6 years ago. But I must say, he is the reason I pay so much to color my hair!!!

    God knows, and I just hug'em a little tighter at night and pray a little longer, cuz I now they are in His hands.

    Thanks for sharing your story and thanks for letting me shart mine. Have a peaceful day! ~Stacey

  7. What a horrible feeling. Thank God that it turned out well.
    Yes, I've had guilty mommy moments myself. Like trying to get my 1 year old to make the perfect hand and foot print in cement, for a stepping stone gift for my mother. 1 year olds wiggle toes and grab wet slimy cement. But in my crazy perfect mind she should have done it perfect the first time. Poor girl was in tears not knowing why I was screaming and frustrated at her. Since my mothers passing, I now have that stepping stone, and to me's the perfect hand and foot print, even though it's wiggly and smooshed in places. I've learned over the years that perfect will never be while we are still here on earth.

  8. Thank goodness Jason saw her when he did. I can't imagine how it would feel to be trapped in a hot car here. I don't have any horror stories like that, yet. But my kids are still very little, so I'm sure there will be. My oldest son is a totaly disaster waiting to happen!! He scares me all the time. I'm constantly on the look out to make sure he isn't doing anything too frightening. I'm literally just waiting for a day like you described & praying that we both make it out ok!

  9. Thank the Lord your husband saw her. It is hard to let go. I remember a terrible thought that ran through my mind when Andrew was probably only 2 weeks at most. We had been up all night and nothing was satisfying him. I had rocked him, swaddled him, fed him, put him in the bed with us and nothing was making him happy. I had a thought that I wish I never thought and that I could get out of my head for even thinking. I would have NEVER done it but that thought flashed through my head and I feel so terrible for it. I have never told anybody that thought, not even my husband because I'm so ashamed.

  10. Aww Erica. You have made me cry!! I am so thankful that your Hubby saw Riley just in time! (I know you are too!) I have those mommy moments, I think we all do! I know I've shared my worst with Mimi, but I'll tell you too..I had just walked out of the house and my little one wanted to follow, I didn't want him coming out so I pushed the door back as he kept pushing against me or so I thought...He starts screaming bloody murder...I was mashing his fingers in the crack of the door!!! Thank goodness it didn't cut them off, which was my first thought after realizing what was going on! He was bruised and a little cut, but I've never gotten over what could've happened!
    Thank God He is there protecting our children when we're not!

  11. when my little boy was 10 months old he was playing in our bedroom floor while i was folding laundry and he picked up a penny and put it in his mouth.. i tried to fish hook it out but that little turd bit me and i jerked my finger out of his mouth and when i did he swallowed the penny. I thought well it is just a penny it will pass.. about 20 mins later he hit his head on a dresser drawer and was crying but no sound was coming out so i called the pediatrician and we raced to the hospital had a xray and it was stuck at the top of the esophagus with the head facing the front of his throat he was rushed into surgery to have it removed. hind sight is 20/20 why did i just pick him up and put him across my knee and shake it out of his mouth ..thanks fully the penny was up and down not laying flat.. now as a 18 month old he is still in to everything he isn't supposed to be and is responsible for removing at least 10 yrs from my life..

  12. Oh goodness me Erica! That for sure would have been SO scary! Thankgoodness it all ended up ok. As parents we all have those moments...some big, some small. Makes you hug your children just a little tighter everytime!

  13. Bless you heart...I know that moment will never be removed from your memory or your heart. But rest asurred that all mommies have those moments. I know when my some was only a few weeks old i left him lying on his back on the couch to get his bottle...I mean he was 2 weeks old where was he gonna go....right???? WRONG! I came back in the livingroom to a screamimg baby face down on the floor!

    Then there was the time I didn't have the carrier handle clicked place when I went to pick it up from the floor....and FLOP...he feel right out on his head....

    then when he was 2 he got locked in my black car with black leather seats while strapped in his car seat for over 45 mins!

    the just last summer we lost him at the beach for about 10 minutes...which seeemed like forever. My husband has his cell phone in his hand ready to call 911 when I spotted our son way down the beach. He had drifted down on his boogie board and then could not find was one of the most horrible moments in my life.....

    Okay, now I feel like crap...I'm going to go cry!

  14. Oh, Erica, I have SO been there! The weather here is like yours in TX, and something similar happened to my Noah last year when he was about 14 months old. The weather had been in the 90's all week long, but that morning we had a heavy shower that cooled it off to the 70's-Thank GOD!! I truly believe God was watching my baby because as best I can figure, he was out there about 20 minutes! I brought him in, loved all over him, then put him in front of Dora and went into the kitchen and sobbed for 10 minutes. And we've had water scares with all three of our oldest. It's scary how they think that just because they like the water it won't hurt them!! I would LOVE to just keep them out of the water until they're old enough to learn to swim WELL, but that's unrealistic, especially when that's our best way to cool off here! Praise God that your little one was ok, and mine are too, and all the others mentioned here! No guilt-God forgives us and we have to learn to forgive ourselves. But it's always on my mind that if it had been their time to go, they wouldn't be here with us now.

  15. Reading your post and then the comments makes me realize I'm not alone. My baby girl (after two boys) was the same and I have so many stories that I wouldn't know where to begin. Maybe someday I'll out myself with the scariest of them all, but for now, I just keep saying a prayer of thankfulness to a kind UPS man, a lady in a station wagon, and the grace of God.

  16. every parent has those moments that make you think... oh man someone up there is helping me parent! As hard as it is, we have to just hug our little ones tighter and thank God that we have them for another day! I think it is those moments of life that make us better mothers

  17. WOW! I almost cried. As you know I have no mom stories...yet, but thank God that Jason saw your poor baby girl in time.

  18. Wow...I can totally relate. My boys have absolutely no fear and have to be watched 100% of the time. Thank you for sharing!

  19. How scary but how wonderful to know the Lord was watching over her. Yes, we all have our stories.

    One time my son fell down the stairs in his walker, because we thought the door was shut but it wasn't. He was fine and the Lord protected him as he landed on a box of magazines at the bottom of the stairs. But we were terrified. No wonder they don't allow walkers anymore.

    Another time we were playing outside when my older son was around three or four. He was playing with a ball, and it went into the street.

    He ran towards the ball in the street and I went running right behind him towards the street, screaming at the top of my lungs. I knew the car coming wouldn't see him till it was to late (due to a big bush in the way).

    The lady stopped and you know how I felt. Just like you did. The lady told me that she couldn't see him at all, but she saw me running and screaming with my arms out and figured she'd better stop. I thank the Lord that she did.

    I am so thankful to him as I know that he protects our children and us daily. When I was a kid I was almost kidnapped by a total stranger but a lady saved me. I still remember that to this day, and know that the Lord was watching over me!

  20. Actually I meant younger son, not older but I suppose it doesn't really matter.

  21. I have too many to count... and the latest one happened just this past Friday night. I'm actually too embarassed to even tell you what happened. Just know that I will never ever ever try to do cheerleading stunts with my daughter again after I have had a little too much to drink. Thank God she is fine... it could have been bad...

  22. Erica, this brought tears to my eyes. What a scary moment and memory! Please, give it to God. You are not perfect. You are human. For a reason unknown to us, this was meant to happen. This was part of God's plan for you and Riley. I am sure you love her all the more for it.

  23. It is so hard as a mom to not take responsibility for all that happens, big or small, to our kids. Afterall, my Nanny use to say it best; "It is my job!" However, there are always going to be those times when we can't always protect them like we would like. That is when the faith kicks in and knowing that our Heavenly Father loves our babies more than even we do. Don't have a guilty heart, have a thankful heart, for He was watching out for her the whole time. :)

  24. Wow- How scary that must have been! Thanks for sharing!

  25. oh sweetie,

    I read this with chills and tears welling up in my eyes.

    Oh my Lord. Literally. He saved her. She is a miracle.

    God has a special plan for that child who has had what sounds like many scares and close calls.

    I am so thankful that there is not a tragedy here to share, so very thankful.

    I totally get the response that you keep having even today.

  26. You know, the enemy would like nothing more than for us to dwell on the mistakes that we have made as parents, allowing the guilt to consume us. But, guilt is NOT from God!

    I am so thankful to Him that, regardless of the mistakes I have made (and some have been terrible, albeit unintentional), He can take what the enemy meant for evil and cause good to come from it!

    I pray that you will be able to release this experience - and the guilt associated with it - to God, allowing Him to heal you. You are a GOOD mom!


  27. don't make me're supposed to make me laugh :) Seriously, you are not the only mom who's done that! I wish you didn't still have so much guilt :(

    The thing that immediately comes to my mind is when I was at Target with the kids and Emily was probably 1 1/2 and Alex 3, and he was just potty trained. when he had to go...he had to when we were on the farthest side of Target from the bathroom, I just put Emily in the back of the cart {she was standing up holding onto the side} and Alex was running...we got to the bathrooms and I hit the little pole at the Guest Services and Emily went careening over the side head first on the concrete floor...neck bending back! EVERYONE looked at me and I was in shock...I thought for sure she broke her neck! I felt horrible because you know you always see the pictures of how NOT to place your kid in the cart....oops! Of course she was fine, but I had to fill out an incident report...meanwhile Alex still had to go to the bathroom! It's tough being a mom!

  28. Oh, I was practically in tears reading your story. When my daughter was a newborn, I put her in her infant carrier/carseat while I was getting ready to leave the house. I then picked the carrier up, went to the garage and snapped the carrier into the backseat. When I arrived at my desitanation, I realized that I had not buckled her in. We had driven for about 15 minutes and she was not fastened in! I felt so so horrible. It still gives me shivers to think about the what if's.

  29. Erica,
    I was mesmerized with each word of this post, thinking "oh no, oh no" the whole time. And very relieved to here the outcome. There is one thing that you mentioned here today that makes me want to cry and that is that you still feel the need to punish yourself for something that was not your fault in the first place. Each time you get in your car and allow yourself to suffer from the heat is not going to help take the guilt away. The only thing that will take your guilt away is forgiving yourself like God has forgiven you. To not do so is like telling God He does not know what He is doing. Punishing yourself for the same thing over and over again will not change the outcome of what happened and it will not change how you feel about yourself. There is no power to remove guilt in punishment. It does not work. Guilt is removed when the responsibility for perfection on your own is set aside for perfection in Jesus! Your baby is alive and healthy and you are a wonderful mom because of what Jesus has done for and in you! Forgive yourself for not being perfect!

  30. I have had so many of those moments, that I would need a post of my own. Kids scare us so much and sometimes there are just things that are out of our control unless we are holding their hand 100% of the time and then that would stiffle their independence. Thank God she was ok but still something us as Moms will never forget.

  31. Erica, I worry so much about something like this happening to my little guy. Thankfully, I don't have a story to share and I pray I never will. Thank God for Jason that day! I'm so sorry you feel the guilt still today. But I understand your pain.

    Here's a BIG {SQUEEZE} for ya,

  32. I am soo thankful that you found her, isn't that amazing that he saw her in the car and went running. That happened to me just after having receiver my mom had taken QB with her to get dinner at the store, It was my 1st day home with receiver after he was born and it was July 31st and about 101 that day. My mom got home and accidentally locked BOTH sets of keys in the car while QB was still buckeled in his car seat. Um, I was totally hormonal from literally just popping out a kid and I could see him freaking out and me freaking out. Baby inside check. My 1st born baby in the car in the heat locked up and can't get out. I called the cops and I got a hammer and broke the window. My mom was SOOO mad at herself, and I was just hormonal and HAD to get him out. So, are not the only one but I have all the same feelings that you had and I do the same thing. I think back to that day and his little mind being locked in the seat. HORRIFYING!!! Praise God that we got him out!~

  33. Oh, my goodness! Praise God she was ok! I had a moment where my daughter when she was a baby fell down some stairs. Thankfully, she was ok. I get flashbacks sometimes of that situation or the time my son fell backwards off a bed and hit his head on a bookcase. He ended up having to go to the e.r. and got staples. Ugh!


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