I didn’t mean for it to happen. Placing my children in any danger is never something I would have done on purpose. But that is what I did.
Thankfully, nothing happened. This time. I was just lucky.
It was a beautiful sunny day and the twins had a field trip to a museum out of town. Since the children were young, the school had organized that we all arrive there at a certain time in the morning, in our own way. Some were carpooling, but I wasn’t sure when it would end so I decided I would drive the boys myself to have a better handle on when we could leave.
Normally, the boys are chatterboxes in the back, but this time – I don’t know if it was the early morning or the sun shining – they were very quiet. I had music on, but it was low and not very exciting.
Tired Driving Can Happen To Anyone
The drive was 45 minutes to our destination, and somewhere about halfway on the long straight highway with very few cars, I started to relax too much. The steady, rhythmic feeling of the car practically driving itself in the simple straight path was getting me tired, fast. And before I knew it, I had dozed off. It was a millisecond, but I know it happened because I felt the car sway to one side. Thankfully, there were no cars in my way.
The boys hadn’t even noticed. I, however, was a wreck. My heart was racing. I was in shock at what I had done. And worse, I knew I had at least 20 more minutes of driving to do. I put down the windows to get some air, I raised the volume of the radio and put on an upbeat station. I rummaged for gum with one hand in my purse and got some out to chew on.
I did everything I could think of to stay awake.
We made it to the destination. The boys played while I thought of all the things that could have happened. And I fretted going back home.
Listening To Your Body Is Important
That day stays with me all the time. I think of that moment every time I have to drive the boys anywhere. Am I awake enough? Can I drive there safely? We hear all the warnings against drinking and driving, but driving under the influence of fatigue (tired driving) is just as dangerous.
As it turns out, shortly after this event I learned the reason for my bouts of fatigue: I am hypoglycemic. This means that if I eat something with sugar, I may get very tired shortly after. A lot came from this very scary moment in the car; I now know what I can and can’t physically do, and don’t feel bad about my limitations.
As moms, we are placed under constant scrutiny, on whether we do certain things or not. We also give ourselves so much slack for not doing everything, so we try to do it all. If I was honest with myself, I might have never driven that day, but I felt I had to. I didn’t want to let my boys down. But at what cost? What would it take for me to know when I just physically can’t? I know now.
Sleep deprivation is real, especially for moms. We need to listen to our bodies, take care of our health and understand that saying no to an activity is not life-threatening… but driving under the influence of exhaustion could be.
Julia a.k.a. Mama MOE was a freelance fashion writer before she had three wonderful children (one plus twins). Her blog, Ask Mama MOE, is all about living a family-friendly life and ranges in topics. Always in a positive tone, Ask Mama MOE is a great place for some parenting humour, DIY crafts, recipes and some deep thoughts. Reviews and giveaways are also done on products Mama MOE herself would be proud to use in her home. Be sure to check out Mama MOE’s charity, Shopping From The Heart.