One of my worst days ever as a parent was the day I locked my child in my car.
She was my first born, about 7 or 8 months old, with dark hair, inquisitive eyes and a sweet smile.
I was a stay-at-home mother. And I was all about child safety. I kept my car doors locked. I had a good child safety seat. I even had a “Baby on Board” sign in the back window.
Temperatures were mild that early fall day. I had dressed her in a pink, short-sleeved jogging suit with a lightweight jacket. I didn't want her to get cold as I grocery shopped at the Keesler Air Force Base Commissary. We lived nearby at an off-base housing area known as Harrison Court.
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We arrived home and I got out of the car so I could put her in her crib while I unloaded groceries.
Somehow I had turned the car off, left my keys in the ignition and locked my door as I got out.
I panicked and called Keesler Security.
I felt like a bad parent. A horrible parent. How could I do that?
My daughter seemed content at first.
The temperature was inching up to 70 degrees. I knew it could get hot in a car really fast.
My child looked at me with those big eyes, babbled sounds I couldn't understand and kicked her legs. It was clear she wanted out of her car seat.
Then she began to get impatient. She stretched her arms out, made babbling sounds and kicked her little legs a bit hard.
Security officers came quickly and unlocked my door. My daughter seemed fine, but had started to sweat a little.
All I wanted to do was grab my baby and hold her tight.
The officers deemed it an accident.
It still upsets me when I think about it. Especially when I hear that a child has been left in a vehicle long enough to die of a heat stroke.
I vowed I'd never do that again. I developed a habit of always checking my back seat whether I thought I had my child with me or not.
I later had two other children. If you were to ask them, they'd tell you I watched them like hawks. I say better safe than sorry.
I learned from my upsetting mistake that ended well. But share my story, if you will. It could save a child's life.