On Sunday, Jennifer Campbell posted a photo of her mud-covered kids, along with an eye-opening story.
One afternoon, she wrote, she was nursing her then-infant son on a couch facing the backyard.
"I could see my 4-year-old son playing on the slide, but the 2-year-old was out of sight -- not unusual as we had a very large, gated yard," she recalled. Suddenly, a woman appeared around the side of the house holding Campbell's 2-year-old. The stranger shouted at the mom, "Do you know where I just found your child?"
She then explained that the toddler was on the road and could've been hit by a car. "You are LUCKY I came along when I did," the woman added.
“Accidents happen, and when they do people need love and compassion, not lectures and blame.”
To this day, Campbell still doesn't know how her son got outside the backyard gate, but the angry lecture she received from this stranger stuck with her.
"I cried of course," she wrote in the post. "It makes you sick to think that something serious could happen to your child, especially in YOUR care. It's called an accident. And despite an accident being an accident, mothers will still blame themselves for it and carry the guilt for life."
Campbell -- whose three sons are now 6, 4 and 2 -- proceeded to list the times her kids have had accidents and "close calls." She wrote:
A few months after that my oldest son fell in the backyard and split his head open.
A year after that we were back living in Canada and our middle son (clearly the escape artist) was found wandering around outside in boots and a t-shirt in -20C/-4F weather.
Six months after that we were in a busy downtown area and I lost my oldest son. He just biked away from us (some of you might remember that story).
A few weeks ago I walked into the kitchen and my youngest (now two) had a butcher knife in his hands and was trying to cut a block of cheese on the floor.
And next month it will be something else. And next year something else. And we really don't know if one day a terrible tragedy will befall our family - because of a lag in supervision, a safety measure we forgot to take, a lapse in judgement, a child's curiosity, a teenage boy's risk ... We don't know. Because accidents happen.
At the end, the mom concluded, "[A]ccidents happen, and when they do people need love and compassion, not lectures and blame."
Campbell's post has received over 23,000 Facebook likes and 11,000 shares. She told The Huffington Post that while she's received some negative comments and private messages, the response has been "overwhelmingly positive."
“Anyone who has never had a close call with their children must have them wrapped in bubble wrap.”
The mom added that she was initially inspired to write the post after witnessing the social media backlash toward a Canadian couple whose 2-year-old son Chase recently died in an accident. "It was being said the incident was preventable and the parents were guilty of 'negligence.' Some even went as far as saying this child should have been in a foster home with people who 'cared about him.'" Campbell said.
"Being a mother of three boys, I was horrified to read these comments," she continued. "I've been blogging and sharing on social media for three years now and the 'mommy shaming' is out of control. What accident isn't preventable? That's why they're called accidents. I could be this Mom who has just lost her child and so could anyone else."
"Anyone who has never had a close call with their children must have them wrapped in bubble wrap," she added.
Campbell said she hopes Chase's mom sees her post and reads all the supportive comments from other parents.
She also hopes her words can serve as an important reminder to parents that perfection is not realistic. "In the end I'm 'just' your average woman trying to do her best each day," Campbell told HuffPost. "I've worked hard the last few years to accept myself for all that I am -- an imperfect human, mother, wife, friend. That has freed up so much space in my heart to love and accept other people for the flawed beings that they are too."
"We are ALL flawed," she continued. "We have more in common than not. And in the end all we have in this world to cling onto is each other."