What's A-Parent

Mom Accidentally Left Her Daughter In A Car — And Very Publicly Owns Up To The Mistake To Prevent Another One

"I usually think I'm a good mom. But I made a huge mistake today and I feel terrible."

What's A-Parent is a series highlighting those who get real about the hardships that come with raising kids. These often untold stories help show parents they are not alone in their struggle, and are doing an amazing job.

Britta Eberle never thought she'd be the kind of parent who could make a mistake as big as leaving her child in the car. Until earlier this month ... when she did. 

The mom, who writes at her parenting blog This Is Motherhood, opened up about how this mistake can happen in a post on Facebook

"Today I did the unthinkable and forgot about her in the car. Here's how it happened: our family arrived at a friend's house and in our excitement, we all darted out, assuming that someone else had remembered to grab the youngest member of our clan," she wrote. "But no one remembered her. And she sat for about twenty minutes crying alone before one of us grabbed her. It was such a small mistake, but it could have had devastating consequences."

Eberle is thankful her 2-year-old daughter Ada was parked in a safe space, during a time it wasn't hot outside, and that she wasn't alone for too long. She's also grateful that Ada has forgotten and forgiven her family for the mistake. 

"But it will be a long time before I forgive myself," she wrote. "I usually think I'm a good mom. But I made a huge mistake today and I feel terrible. There are no excuses for what I did. And part of me doesn't want to share this. I don't want the world to know how badly I've failed. But then I think that I have to share this. I have to own up to my mistakes. I have to tell the world how far I am from perfect. And how if I did this, anyone could do this. And that scares me, but also makes me judge a little less and makes me pay attention a whole lot more." 

All parents make mistakes, but no one who thinks of themselves as a "good" mom or dad imagines they'll ever be in this position. Eberle's guilt is completely understandable. While she was lucky Ada was unharmed, many other families aren't. Since 1998, 719 children have reportedly died from heatstroke after being left in a car, according to NoHeatStroke.org. In a majority of cases — 54 percent to be exact — the children were accidentally forgotten. Twenty-eight percent were playing in an unattended vehicle, 17 percent were intentionally left in vehicle by an adult, and in the last 1 percent, the circumstances are unknown. Based on those statistics, it's more likely that a parent's misstep, such as accidentally forgetting their child in a car or being unaware of their whereabouts, will cause an incident like this. 

Yet, so many parents think it could never happen to them. And that's exactly why Eberle decided to share her story so publicly. 

"Tonight I snuggled my baby girl to bed. I read her a story, turned out the light, and stayed beside her listening to her breath get deeper and slower as she fell asleep. And felt so incredibly lucky. We are always so much closer to the edge than any of us realize," she concluded her post. "Hug your babies tight and practice forgiveness. Forgive those that make mistakes, even if the person who you need to forgive is yourself." 

Eberle hopes to raise awareness about this issue, telling parents how and why parents end up leaving their kids in the car. The post has over 260 shares to date, and is filled with comments from people sharing their own parenting mistake experiences. Others thanked her for bravely sharing her story. 

"This must have been so hard to share," one commenter wrote. "You are a good mom, it could have happened to ANYONE. I am now putting my phone with my kids in the backseat. I've read about it, of course, but never thought it could happen to me. Until I read this. Thank you for helping so many, and love yourself, my friend, she is OK and lucky to have you."

We hope parents who read Eberle's story will come up with preventative measures that work for them and be reminded to always double check instead of making assumptions when it comes to their child's whereabouts.

"I'm a very cautious, conscientious parent," Eberle told HuffPost. "I never thought I was capable of doing something like this. If it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody."

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