Parents

We all need help navigating the corn maze of motherhood

Oct. 13, 2011 at 12:31 PM ET

Sunday morning dawned too early. I was home from the hospital a mere 48 hours after giving birth, my 4-year-old son had a birthday party to get to, my husband was sick in bed (what convenient timing), and of course, I had my brand new baby girl to care for.

Somehow, the kids and I got out the door, and with my son at the party, and my husband asleep, I went out for coffee. Sitting outside on that sunny, crisp October day, with a cup of joe in hand and my daughter peacefully asleep in her carriage, I was feeling pretty good.

Nearly four years earlier, though, I was pushing my infant son in that same carriage around that same neighborhood, wondering what I was doing outside on a frigid, blustery day. Nervous and guilt-wracked, I turned to another mom - also with a bundled-up baby - for some assurance that it was really OK to be outside out on such a freezing day. (Thanks again for the green light, comrade mom.)

As new mothers, we make the best decisions we can for our children, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. Sometimes, though, things go horribly wrong.

Surely, the last thing on a Massachusetts mother’s mind when she and her husband took their 3-week-old daughter and 5-year-old son into a corn maze earlier this week was that they’d get so lost she would end up calling police in a panic for help.

As night began to fall and the mosquitoes came out to bite, the scared mom called 911. A recording on the call captured her desperation, as she told the dispatcher:

"We thought this would be fun. Instead it's a nightmare. I don't know what made us do this. It was daytime when we came in. And I never take my daughter out. This is the first time. Never again."

It all ended well -- police arrived and quickly located the family, who were unharmed. And of course she’ll take the baby out again. Someday.

Assuming we have a choice, how do we know when it’s the right time to leave the safe confines of home for the first time?

With cold and flu (and corn maze) season upon us, we’re told to keep babies away from crowds for the first month or two to help avoid illness. But we won’t find specific recommendations in the parenting guides for all of the situations that come up in everyday lives, like when our older child really wants some fall fun at the farm and neither parent wants to miss out.

And besides, modern moms want to write their own rules. We just don’t want things to get so out of hand that we have to call the police when we zigged instead of zagged through the murky maze of motherhood.

Where’s the wackiest place you’ve taken a newborn, and did you have any less-than picture-perfect results?

Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles writer who lives in New York with her husband and two children.

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