A good friend of mine–a nice Jewish Mama with two little ones ages 4 and 2–recently posted this on her Facebook page:
Just left the kids napping in the house to run and pick up something I needed to make dinner. Can I be arrested for that?
Maybe I’ve been spending too much time on the local Mama list-servs, but I sat back and waited for the fire storm to erupt. I anticipated a wave of accusations and judgments, but apparently my friend has nicer (or perhaps more restrained) friends than I do, because the worst she got was “I wouldn’t risk it, honestly.”
So, the question is, would you?
Let me give you some context. My friend lives in a condo in a fairly safe urban neighborhood. In order to get to the store, she had to go down three flights of stairs, and around the corner. Her GPS calculated that the store was about 350 feet away, and the whole trip took her about 5 minutes. Her children have a reliable nap schedule, and my friend was quite confident they wouldn’t wake up. (And, for the record, they didn’t.)
You’re probably wondering what was so important that my friend felt the need to ditch the kids. Garlic. Well, yes, it was garlic, but not just garlic. It was the entire dinner. She needed five cloves of garlic for the recipe, and there was nothing else in the house to make. They had already made plans to go out another night that week, and she didn’t want to eat out twice. I think we can all relate to how frustrating it is when you have a week’s worth of meals carefully planned out, and something goes awry.
(For the record, this is how you know I’m not talking about myself in the second person. This Mama doesn’t “cook” or “use recipes”.)
As it all turned out, the garlic she bought was rotten anyway, and she ended up using garlic powder. My friend told me that the bad cloves were the more frustrating part of the whole situation—she took this risk for nothing in the end. She also told me that she wouldn’t do it again unless it was something really important, and apparently garlic won’t make the cut next time.
My friend’s biggest concern about leaving her kids wasn’t that they would get out of their beds and get into trouble while she was gone; it was that they would freak out because she wasn’t there. Also, looking back, she was more concerned that something might have happened to her while she was out. That’s one reason she wouldn’t have gone to the pharmacy, which is slightly farther away and across a busy street.
I’m not sure where I come down. One the one hand, it’s tempting to say that I would never leave my sleeping kids for any reason. Yet before I had kids, I swore their nap schedule wouldn’t dictate my life. And that I wouldn’t be that Mom who owned four strollers. And that my chicken nuggets would never cross my children’s lips. Yet here I am, a stroller-toting, nugget-feeding, slave to naptime.
As I mentioned, I’m pretty mixed. The anxious part of me worries about what could have gone wrong, but I also trust my friend’s judgment—I think she’s a good mother, and that we’re probably not that different in how we think about child-rearing. It seems to me that our society has probably gotten a little too uptight about certain things, but on the other hand, I wonder if our kids aren’t safer now as a result.
I’m just not sure. Fortunately, I don’t think I’m going to face this problem any time soon, because I live in the ‘burbs. There’s not much within a five minute walk of my house. The closest I could go is my neighbor’s house… and if she had fresh brownies in the oven, I might have to seriously consider it.
Are you overprotective? Read this article to find out.