Okay, it’s confession time. Parents most definitely stuff up sometimes, too.
I want to share a bit more about me on my blog so that you can get to know me better and perhaps even learn from my mistakes.
Any parent would know, it’s hard to think straight with a screaming child. But when the screams are warranted, rather than just a tantrum in the aisle at the shopping centre, it’s even more difficult.
There were a lot of things running through my head.
I had no keys. No phone. No purse.
My husband, was on a plane flying to the United States and my parents were up on the Central Coast an hour and a half away.
I was in a dilemma.
They had my spare car keys.
You see, as I had left the house, I locked the door behind me and opened the garage door with the remote sitting in the car.
I began buckling my eighteen-month-old, Miss T, into her baby seat in the back. She would always play a game of “pushing down the button” whenever we left the house, as it was one of the only buttons that her tiny, little fingers could push.
As I finished securing her into the car, I received a phone call. Answering the phone, I walked around to the passenger side and placed my handbag on the seat, which had my car keys in it.
Finishing the call, I put my mobile into my bag and without thinking, closed the passenger-side door to walk around to the driver’s seat.
Within moments, I heard the distinct noise of the car doors locking.
My heart skipped a beat.
I stood there, glancing in through the window to the handbag on the seat that held my mobile, my purse and my car keys.
This time, I had made a huge stuff up.
I had nothing with me.
And my little girl was sitting in her forward-facing car seat, looking at me unaware of our situation.
Thoughts went flying through my head.
While the garage door was open, the house we lived in at the time had internal access. There was no way I could get inside to ring someone to help.
What would I do to get her out?
She was strapped in tightly to her car seat, ready for our drive. But even if she wasn’t, she was too young to work out how to unlock the car.
It was 10am and the neighbourhood was quiet.
I ran to the neighbours house quickly, but nobody was home.
Everyone was out and about – at work, school or running errands.
As I ran back past the car frantically, I could hear Miss T beginning to cry, sensing that something was wrong.
I tried to reassure her through the glass, but her crying quickly turned into screaming as my panic began to escalate.
It was the middle of summer and the heat of the day was starting to rise.
I know I had to do something and I knew I had to do it quickly. How could I stuff up so bad?
For a moment, I considered walking to our local medical centre to get help, which was about 300 metres away. But I didn’t want to leave the garage door open with a screaming baby inside my locked car.
With my mobile phone out of sight, I had no idea what time it was and how much time had past. However, with the frantic screams of a baby piercing through the windows as if there was no barrier between us, it felt like an eternity.
Reflecting back on this moment, I am thankful that I had already opened the garage door. I shudder to think what could have happened if it had been closed when I locked not only my keys, but my young daughter, in the car.
How long could it have been until we were found?
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.
Out of nowhere, I heard the sound of a motorbike down the street. I realised it was our postman completing his delivery run. I bolted out of the garage faster than I have ever run before.
Almost immediately, I caught his attention. Something tells me it was perhaps my overly-exaggerated arm movements as I desperately flagged him down.
As he stopped his bike, I quickly told him what had happened and asked to use his phone to call NRMA.
He sensed my urgency and suggested that due to his low phone battery, that I call 000 who could help me immediately rather than the possibility of being on hold to NRMA.
Within five minutes, two lovely police officers arrived.
If it weren’t for our postman, I don’t know what I would have done in that circumstance.
The officers looked at my darling daughter, who had worked herself into such a state that her skin was red and blotchy from crying. They called NRMA, who within moments after arriving, had worked their magic on the window and unlocked the car.
Meanwhile, I had been under interrogation by the police as they asked, “what were you doing?”, “how did the keys get locked in your car?”, “where is your husband?” and my personal favourite – “are you on medication?”
After this incident, I blamed myself for weeks. I constantly found myself reliving what had happened and on top of that, the ‘what ifs’ that could have changed everything.
What if I had held onto Miss T until after the phone call?
What if I had left the house unlocked until I had put her in her car seat?
What if I had held onto my bag until I had sat in the car?
Worry becomes unhealthy when we can’t change the circumstances, yet continue to mull about it as if we can.
Unfortunate events happen – sometimes for no good reason other than they do.
Don’t find blame where there isn’t any. Stop replaying those thoughts wondering, “if only I had done this” or “I should’ve done that”.
As noted in an article by Psychology Today, you should acknowledge any past regrets, problems or stuff ups, but not mull on them for so long that it begins to absorb you.
Your past mistakes, whether they were big or small, are never meant to define you. They are meant to guide you.
As parents, we all stuff up from time to time. The general busyness of life and the distractions that come with it can often make us do silly, little things.
So when things go wrong, we tend to blame ourselves quite harshly.
Owning up to the stuff-ups and understand where we went wrong is healthy for any growing and learning process. But getting comfortable with that self-blame can often lead to more dangerous and unhealthy thoughts.
Get upset about the situation, but don’t stay there.
Know when it’s time to let go.
Know when it’s time to stop the blame-game.
Between 2009 – 2013, my family and I lived in Lyon, France. At the time, my children were 7 and 4 years old.
I often reflect on those four years of our life with fond memories. Did we actually take our little family to the other side of the world to live in a foreign country where English wasn’t spoken?
And better yet, actually survive?
Yes, we sure did!
My husband was responsible for building a medical factory. As he was away at work for long hours of the day, I had the exciting, yet tiresome job of ensuring the kids were happy and settling into our new lifestyle.
I remember driving our daughter to school on her very first day. Being the middle of winter, it was dark outside even in the morning. The streets were covered in a beautiful white blanket from the snow which had fallen during the night.
My husband and I had only ever seen snow on the top of mountains in New Zealand when we went skiing. To see it in a city environment was very surreal and we had to adapt quickly to driving on snow.
In the first three months of our new life in France, we had so many things to get used to:
- Long days at school with two-hour lunch breaks
- No school uniforms
- The weather – I was especially feeling the cold after being so used to years of the Aussie sun.
- The language barriers – I awkwardly stumbled my way through my first few months of conversations!
My husband’s work contract was signed for one year. We took this as a sign to travel as much as we could in those short 12 months.
However, one year turned into two, and by the end of our four years of settling into our new found ‘home’, we begrudgingly returned to Australia.
While in France, we spent most weekends travelling as a family. It was easy to jump in the car with the children and within a few hours, be in a different country, medieval village, or our favourite ski spot, La Féclaz.
Due to my limited French, I found myself amidst a problem which still happens to haunt me today.
All of the photos I take are shot in RAW format. This means that the camera takes the image data from the sensor and saves it in an unedited and uncompressed format on the memory card.
This takes up a lot more space on your memory card or hard drive than a JPEG file.
I had over 40,000 photos saved on my relatively new iMac computer. And due to the sheer amount of data that I was trying to store on it, it would continuously shut down on its own accord.
Thinking that the new computer was faulty, I had an Apple technician come to the apartment to diagnose any issues.
The technician had limited English and my French was no better. After a lot of attempts at communicating with one another, I finally agreed for him to delete the “weird-looking files” to create space. Subsequently, this would speed up my machine.
Warning: photographers, don’t try this at home.
Because unfortunately, for me, this is where things unravelled.
They weren’t “weird-looking files” at all. They were actually the sidecar information that holds all the data of a RAW file.
And since they were attached to those 40,000+ RAW files of our French travels, I lost all image data!
Yep. Cue the funeral music.
I didn’t realise at the time what had actually happened.
It was while I was halfway through my Diploma of Photo Imaging when it all hit me at once. I was learning the structure of a RAW file and the importance of the sidecar.
Immediately, my mind rushed back to that moment in my apartment where I allowed the technician to delete all of those “weird-looking files”.
My heart sunk and I was devastated.
I lost every single one of our precious photos of our time abroad.
From the magic winter days in the snow with my family to the weekend trips country-hopping; four years of memories completely gone, just like that.
Lesson learnt the hard way: ensure you have a workflow set up for storing images.
A combination of knowledge and hindsight now reminds me to store all of my assets in three locations.
Fast forward to now, and every so often a Facebook memory will pop up on my newsfeed; a bittersweet feeling. Mostly though, a sad consolation prize to what was lost.
While I have the JPEG photos uploaded to my social media, due to their low resolution, I unfortunately cannot print them any bigger than a 6”x4” print.
I have a display in our stairwell, which I look at each time I walk past.
It’s a visual reminder of our time there; allowing me to reflect on how small our children were and how much they have grown in the years since our return to Australia.
Not to mention, the collection of artwork displayed on my wall reminds me of the importance of printed memories. The tangible kind that you can physically touch and enjoy forever, regardless of the amount of computer or phone storage you may have.
It’s not until you look back that you realise how important it is to have memories of your loved ones through life at certain moments. Because that’s exactly what it is, a moment!