Nurse Loves Farmer


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Tuesday, 08 April 2014 14:45

I Thought I'd Lost Her

My dear Clara... I thought I'd lost her today. 

Even those of you who haven't read 'The Deep End of the Ocean' I'm sure can relate to what goes through your mind during the moments when you first realize you don't know where your child is.  I know from talking to other Moms that I'm not the only Mom to have experienced something like this, and although my few moments were terrifying, I know people who have experienced much worse.

We were at the mall today, where the girls were playing at a play area set up inside the food court.  The play area is completely enclosed except for the entrance, and this is where I was standing as I called both girls to come get some lunch.  This is a relatively routine thing for us by now; the girls play for a bit, and then we get lunch in the food court, so I wasn't too surprised when Clara came running out toward the food lines. I grabbed Audrey and began putting her shoes on. I don't recall what my understanding of Clara's location was at this time - I told her to wait for a moment while I got Audrey's shoes on, but didn't register whether or not she had actually stopped moving. When I glanced up again, she had disappeared. Considering our proximity to everything around us - I casually thought that Clara must have run back into the play area - the closest thing to us, and the only place (I thought) Clara could have disappeared to so quickly.  I was a bit annoyed at her for just running off, but when I glanced into the play area and didn't immediately see her, I was a bit puzzled. Keep in mind that all of that - from me grabbing Audrey, putting on her shoes and Clara disappearing - happened in probably less than 10 seconds.

I asked my Grandma - who was with me, but had wandered away for a moment just as all of this was happening and had just returned - to watch Audrey for a second. 

I stood up (from putting Audrey's shoes on) and looked into the play area. No Clara.

I glanced quickly around me - across the food court, and took a few steps around to get a wider view of the area. No Clara.

I walked back into the play area and looked under/over/around every piece of play structure to see if she was hiding or crouched down somewhere. No Clara.

I told my Grandma I'd be right back and walked around the outside of the play area - still nothing.

I took a wide walk around and through the food court, thinking that maybe Clara had run into one of the food lines, which was completely possible considering we had done this a number of times and she was getting used to the routine. I couldn't see her anywhere.

This was the point at which I started fighting tears and panicking. As I was completing the loop around the food court, I told myself that she was probably back with my Grandma already and that I was being ridiculous and overreacting.  I asked my Grandma if she had seen Clara - this was also the moment that my Grandma realized that Clara was missing, since she hadn't realized why I had left so suddenly. 

Fighting tears, I turned to the first Mom I saw and asked if she had seen a little girl - she interrupted me to point across the hall to a little alcove where one of those kiddie rides was mostly out of view from where we were standing. I think I saw her go over there. 

As I turned the corner and saw her innocently sitting on a giant metal duck, tears started streaming down my face and I couldn't even get mad at her. I hugged her hard, which confused her thoroughly, and told her how afraid I'd been. I don't know if she understood, but she seemed concerned.  As I carried her back to where Audrey and my Grandma were waiting, the woman who had pointed her out to me said "Scary, hey?" knowingly, because like I said earlier, I think many Moms have experienced this at one time or another. 

I just want to say - because I really believe this - that it wasn't my 'fault'.  Although it technically was my 'negligence' that caused this situation - If I had physically had a grasp on my daughter at all times and never let her out of my range of vision for even one second (I can't imagine the amount of discipline that would create a child willing to stick that close out of obedience, but I suppose I couldn't condemn that type of parenting either), she would not have had the chance to wander away like that. But I have two daughters - and it takes two hands to put shoes onto an 18-month-old.  Any mother of more than one child knows that there are times when your children are not in your sight, and in a situation like this, sometimes things 'just happen'.  I wasn't doing anything unreasonably careless.

So, for Moms who have experienced things like this - you are not a bad Mom, and don't play the 'I should have...' game, because it's not helpful.  I am paranoid about safety and I will take all reasonable precautions with my children - it is a hard and fast rule that they hold hands with someone while in a parking lot - but in order to allow my girls a bit of freedom and fun, I have to allow for the occasional possibility that something 'could happen' and pray that it won't.  They could fall off a playground and break their limbs, but that doesn't mean I won't let them play.  We can't think about how every accident could have been avoided, because even if it's true, it only allows us to point blame at each other. 

Read 2177 times Last modified on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 23:34

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