You never think it'll be you---until it is.
You never think the police are going to show up on your doorstep or that you'll make a mistake that causes others to hate and ridicule you---until those very things happen.
Cherish and I were never super close but we hung out in the same groups. I've known her since junior high. I couldn't tell you a single bad thing about her.
And today, as I was scrolling through Facebook to procrastinate getting ready for work, her face popped up in a news article that read "Mom who forgot her baby in shopping cart tells her story".
And just like that, my heart sunk.
In that moment, I had one hope---that her baby was ok. I didn't judge her or think that her mistake should cause her to lose her parental rights. I didn't even consider the ridicule she must be facing until I started listening to her interview.
There were flashbacks and fears that crept in as I listened because although I haven't been in her shoes, I've been in similarly imperfect ones. I've witnessed what mistakes can do. And I've also witnessed the beauty surrounding those ugly mistakes.
I've cried tears of worry, embarrassment, and sorrow. I've wondered if anyone would ever understand or be able to love me the same. I wondered if my choices would dictate how others look at me.
It's a scary, and usually lonely, place to be. But as I've gone about my day today, I've been filled with hope. I've seen people rally around the Peterson's and tell their own stories of their own imperfections.
When you go through something so IN-YOUR-FACE scary, you find out who your real friends are. You are able to see who is going to be there through the messes.
And it's beautiful.
The truth is that this could've been any of us. Didn't I JUST say that in a blog post a month ago? Maybe these stories hit me so hard because I feel like I'm right there but each and every time I read these, my heart aches for the mothers and fathers who love their children so dearly and are raising their children in a safe environment---and yet they now have to fear their children being taken away.
I've been there. Exactly there. And it isn't fair for Cherish. It isn't fair to the others whom this has happened to.
And the most unfair part is how social media users have treated her.
Because clearly, those people judging this family or my family or your family have never made mistakes before. Clearly.
Clearly, those people who chose to steer into a panic room at the thought of no charges being filed against Cherish have never done ANYTHING that other people could label "imperfect".
And if you have? If you can read this blog post or listen to Cherish's interview and still tell me no incident from your own life came to mind that could ever be considered imperfect, I'd advise you to hold off casting that first stone---because it still could've been you.
It could've been any of us.
Tomorrow, you might find yourself in an abnormal routine and you might make a mistake. You might forget your wallet---or your child. And although one is obviously WAY more important than the other, it is just as possible to forget one as it is the other.
Really, people, let's consider how much we all LOVE our smart phones (except for me because I still have a dumb phone). Let's consider the amount of time we spend on our phones.
Have you ever left your phone at home or somewhere else on accident?
Chances are, you have. And chances are, you feel a sense of security when you have your phone and it is pretty important to you.
Maybe not as important as your child (Gosh, I hope not) but still...important. And you've left it somewhere before.
When we make these incomprehensible mistakes that cause the police to get involved or CPS to tour our homes, it can be the scariest thing in the entire world. If you haven't experienced this, you can surely take my word for it.
And the worst part isn't the haters. The worst part isn't the other imperfect human beings claiming they would never be in that same situation.
The worst part is how much we beat ourselves up. The worst part comes from within.
Forgiving ourselves for these types of mistakes is the hardest part. It is the hardest, most painful part. It doesn't come easily. It takes time and energy and a lot of support. It takes trust and oh my goodness, it takes God.
It takes God.
So stand with me or walk away but I stand with Cherish. There isn't a thing being said about her that wouldn't be said about hundred of other parents who've made mistakes that WEREN'T on the news---and that includes me.
So stand with us---or be quiet. Keep your judgmental thoughts inside your brain and process them on your own.
Because if/when you are in a similar situation as this one and the police come knocking on your door, you might just be praying that if others aren't going to stand by you, that at least they will stay quiet.