I debated writing about this. I mean, who wants to tell the world you’re a bad mother? Even worse, how do you tell your child’s grandparents that you may have accidentally caused those stitches they got last week? (hypothetical). I win the “Poor Parenting” award this week.. ok, this year. But I feel a bit relieved because I’ve heard similar stories. Usually you hear that something like this happens once in a kid’s life, or maybe once in a parent’s life. I hope that’s the case. I’m a little worried since it’s already happened and I’ve been a parent for less than 20 months.
Yesterday, my husband was working outside and invited my toddler to come outside with him, while I fixed some lunch for the three of us. Thankfully my kitchen window faces the street because a few minutes later I see my wandering child sans daddy wandering towards the empty road. Of course, I panic, drop everything, and run out the front door after him, grab him up and bring him back to his father while chiding him for not watching Malachi. I decide since Daddy was focused, little boy needed to stay inside with Mommy. I came back inside, closed the back door, and went back to fixing lunch. Here’s where it gets bad. But let me clarify first, my son is typically a quiet player. He lines up cars and stacks blocks and generally sits quietly to play often. So to not have him in my sight for a few minutes and to not hear anything is really ok, usually for 2-3 minutes or so. I don’t know how long it had been until my brain triggered that I hadn’t heard anything at all. But as soon as I did, I’m guessing it had been three minutes probably, suddenly I discovered that as I ran out in panic before… I never closed the front door!
My heart is starting to beat fast just writing this down. It was like every emotion just was waiting to break through if he wasn’t standing right outside that door. I ran outside, ran to my husband who had not seen him, and both of us started frantically running up and down the street back inside the house in the rooms and under things and through the front and back yard. I asked the neighbor up the street who was working in her yard if she’d seen a little boy.. I felt like we were in a horror movie, although I’m sure it was not so dramatic. When she said no, all emotions broke loose and I started sobbing like a baby. My baby was gone! We started running up in people’s driveways and looking in their bushes. I was looking in cars, not like he can open car doors.
I am so grateful our next door neighbors were home, and I am suddenly grateful for these slatted windows where every sound comes though. Our neighbor, Casey, came outside to help us out and found out little man playing in his 4 year old son’s toy car they had out in their carport. His wife went for Malachi and he went for us, got to me first and when he called out, “He’s right here!” I just wanted to melt down. I barely know him but I gave him a huge hug and he just hung onto me while I cried even harder. His wife brought Malachi to me, who was so sweet to just hug me and not say a word for a good five minutes straight. He didn’t have a clue why I was upset. But he knew I needed baby snuggling and he gave it to me.
This whole episode probably lasted about five minutes, and there’s really nothing scary in my neighborhood to be freaked out about. But I’ve never been so afraid, imagining someone with good intentions finding a lost boy and taking him somewhere, or him getting stuck under something and hurt and not being able to find him. I’m not sure this was an experience I wanted to be able to empathize with other moms about, but now I do and I will always feel even more pain for lost children. I came in and sat on the couch just holding my little buddy for several minutes sobbing. He seemed content to hang with me so he got to stay there a long time. It’s amazing what a little lapse in memory can cause.
My husband and I decided that God must have let it happen after I left the door open so I didn’t blame it entirely on my husband and beat him up too much about it. ;) Apparently we’re both human. Now we’re both paranoid parent-humans. “Did you shut that door?”
Man, was I ever thankful at that moment for a God who hears my prayers. He is so good.