Friday, September 16, 2011

That Mom

Today my heart about leaped out of my chest as I came so close to having an absolute break down. Right there in the women's section of Target. I hate to admit, but this is not the first time I have experienced this kind of sheer panic. Sophie has run off in the store many times before; at Kohls, Target, Walmart, etc. You know, only the really big stores where its easy for the kids to hide under clothes racks and in store displays, and equally easy enough for sometime to just walk away with your precious child and no one notice.

This is the scenario playing out in my mind as I am running up and down the aisles calling her name, "Sophie!" Each look around a corner or behind a rack I hope to see her pop out, that mischievous smile on her face and say, here I am! But there is nothing. This continues for some time, longer than I am comfortable with, and I suddenly realize, I am THAT MOM. We all know her. The one who didn't pay close enough attention and lost her child. She is the one in shear panic, running all crazy like and screaming at the top of her lungs, turning the store upside down, sobbing and calling out her child's name. The Mom who we all stare at and judge and secretly pray we never become. For some, our heart goes out to her and others swear that will never be us, because we are way better parents.

I really try hard not to fully embody that mom. I calmly walk up to the associate in the fitting room, "have you seen my daughter run by here?" I try not to sound too concerned. "She is wearing a cupcake shirt," I tell her as we walk the aisles together. She must have sensed my panic rising, or maybe saw the fear and tears I was fighting hard to suppress. "Would you like me to call it in," she asks. "Yes, please." I hate to admit that my daughter isn't just going to appear any second like she always does, and give in, accepting my failure.

The call goes out over the radios to all the associates. Amongst my fear, I feel embarrassed too. How could I have let this happen? Why do I let her play in areas where I don't have a direct eyesight with her? How could I have been so engrossed in looking at clothes that I didn't notice she was gone? Ultimately what I was really thinking was, I am a terrible mother.

I'm sure we have all been in this mindset before, for something we perceived as the ultimate betrayal to the trust of our children. It may be just an over reaction or it might be rightfully justified. All I know, is that today, in that moment, I had never felt so undeserving of my children. These precious lives that are at the mercy of my hand each and every day deserve better, better than me as their Mom. I wanted to turn to all those people who praised me for my mothering skills and snap at them, "See, I told you I suck at this."

Just as I was settling into this doom of self hate, a lady walks my daughter, who is donning adult sunglasses being held upside down, to her face, over to wear we stand. My heart skips a beat, my fear fades and I grab her and hold her as tight as I possibly can. "She was just trying on sunglasses," the lady reveals to me. I cannot thank her enough as she explains she has a son who does the same thing. So many feelings rush over me as I carry my daughter back to our cart and place her safely inside. "You are staying in here," I tell her, as I explain how terrified I was that I could not find her and it was very important that she NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!!

The rest of our shopping excursion goes without a hitch. Thankful and feeling as though I narrowly escaped what could have turned out to be THE ABSOLUTE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE, I buckle her into the car seat, steal a sweet kiss and drive off to pick up my son from school.
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