We had just enjoyed a delicious dinner on the most beautiful day you’ve ever seen.
Realizing we needed a few things at the store, Chris said that he would go and I could take the boys to the car. I gladly accepted as the grocery store triggers my OCD like nothing else.
One minute both boys were with me and the next, I turned around and didn’t see my oldest son anywhere.
He loves to hide and scare me when I walk by so thinking that’s what he was doing, I handed everything to my sister-in-law and walked a few steps down the sidewalk expecting to see him behind the big column.
Saying his name as I turned the corner, I braced myself for the “BOO!” I was in for, but he wasn’t there. I said his name again, only this time with more emotion. I looked down the alley to the right and in front of me. I scanned the parking lot for creepy vans with no windows and scary looking people.
My heart was pounding as I headed towards the grocery store entrance, it was crowded and I pushed my way through mumbling, “I’m looking for my son. Please…excuse me…I can’t find my son.“ What the hell is wrong with everyone? Get out of my way!
The thoughts flooded my mind. You know, the horrible thoughts that no mother ever wants to think could happen to her child. The ones that make your stomach twist into knots and send the acid up into your throat until you taste it on the back of your tongue.
Just then I looked to my right and saw Chris standing in the check out line. As I moved a step closer, there he was. He turned and met my eyes and I was furious and scared. I leaned down, holding onto his shoulder and in a not so loving way I said, “Don’t you EVER do that to me again! You scared me! You. scared. me! Don’t you see what a nervous wreck I am?!” (At this point, now that I knew he was safe, it became all about me.) Then came the tears…for both of us.
Chris knew not to say I was overreacting. Instead he was consoling our son saying, “It’s okay. Mommy was scared. She didn’t know where you were.” I responded with, “He should cry! He scared me!”
The adrenaline was pumping and I wasn’t calming down anytime soon. The lady in front of us was now looking at our son with concern in her eyes. I wanted to tell her to mind her own business. She didn’t understand the torment endured over the course of the last 3 minutes.
The three of us walked out of the store together and climbed into the car.
I was relieved and angry, sad and grateful all at the same time.
The car ride home was quiet. When we got back to the house, unloaded the car and walked to the front door, my little boy turned around to me and said, “I’m sorry I scared you mom. I didn’t mean to.”
“I know you didn’t darling. I’m sorry I made you cry.”
And that was that. I think I will have calmed down by tomorrow. Sheesh.
Talk to me. Tell me you would overreact if this happened to you. Or has it happened to you? How did you handle it? Did you use your meanest mommy voice like I did?
I don’t think there is any terror greater than to think your child is missing. I don’t know how anyone would ever handle it well regardless if it was 3 minutes or 30. I really don’t think it became about you. That terror is brought about by the intense love we have for our children.
An incident still haunts me about what could have been when we had all of our children at a ball park and my wife and I were driving separately that day. In a time before cell phones. My wife left with our two girls so I thought leaving my son with me. We left a little while after them and headed home and when we arrived I asked where’s Esther? I did not have to wait for an answer when I saw my wife’s face. I think perhaps my son was supposed to tell me that she was with us but that got lost somewhere. My son and I ran to my truck and I drove like a mad man back to the park frantically looking for her. She was sitting on top of a bleacher by herself. She was ok until she got in the truck and started bawling. How could we have left her? No good answer would ever suffice. I thanked God all the way home.
It’s a purely normal response. No one who has not had that experience has any cause to say you over reacted. It was nice to see that you both apologized.