Once I shut the door to my minivan, with a toddler in my arms and walked away from my car for a split second before I remembered my newborn son was asleep in his carseat.
Fear and shame held me like a prisoner.
I never forgot again, but when I saw another mother on the news sobbing over her forgotten baby in the car, I didn’t cast a stone. I only felt compassion and I whispered, Anything can happen. Me, too.
Once my toddler broke free from my grasp at the zoo and took off at full speed. Another adult caught him as I chased. I was so rattled, we packed up our wagon and went home. When I saw a gorilla toss a boy around like a toy, I didn’t shake my fist at a mother’s neglect, I whispered, me, too.
Once I was swimming at my parent’s pool with my three kids and while they all bounced in floats, a poisonous copperhead snake slithered into the pool and while I tried to get my older kids away from it, I nearly lost my baby under the water. When I saw a precious toddler taken by a wild animal on vacation, I didn’t cast judgment or blame on the devastated parents, I said, me. too.
We’ve all been rocked by the sadness spilling out of our TVs and over into social media and spread across our dinner tables. It’s been a hard week, America.
And the only thing I find sadder than innocent blood shed and tiny toddlers lost in vacation waters is the shaming and blaming that fills our screens and feeds.
A few months ago, I sat in a room with other non-profit leaders and we all had cardboard signs in our hands with the words “Me, too” printed across them. Every time someone would share something private and personal–a struggle or a strain, if we identified, we would silently hold up our signs.
And say, “Me, too.”
It was a powerful movement of encouragement.
We cried and complained and there was compassion.
Every mother has nearly lost a child, looked away for a second, or made a mistake on their watch. My first time was when my firstborn toddled out the sliding patio door in the kitchen while I turned around to switch on the oven for dinner. I didn’t realize she was in the doghouse in the backyard until I’d frantically searched and screamed through the house for her for several minutes.
Parents don’t need guilt or shame heaped on their heads. We have plenty of it already. What we need is to know we aren’t alone.
Where in the world is our compassion? Let’s not just reserve it for the tragedies on TV, let’s be the first to offer it to the parents around us. To the mom with the son whose outbursts we don’t understand, to the dad of the teen girl who is rumored pregnant, to the parents that we understand and to those we don’t.
This week, our world doesn’t need more opinions or oppositions, more pointing fingers or judgments cast, we need an army of parents to wave their signs in the air and say, “You have lost so much. We see your weeping.”