Yesterday I had one of those parenting moments that you always think will never happen to you. It stopped my heart, and turned my blood to ice, and for someone who is normally pretty calm and collected, I was surprised to find that I absolutely panicked. We’re talking hysteria.
Here’s the story…. I finally decided that I felt able enough to venture out of the house alone with little Vijay. If I could use only two words to describe my little one, they might be fast and fearless- so you can understand my hesitation at wanting to take him out into the great wide open, seeing as that I can’t move very well. I decided we would drive to the campus bookstore, which he loves, and wait for my husband to meet us there after work. Simple enough.
We had a great time- we read books for about 1/2 hour, and played a few little games, when my husband called to tell us he was on his way. I told Vijay to pick two more books, and by the time we read them, DaDa would be there to meet us. When we finished our books, Vijay stood up from where we were sitting on the floor, and took off. It took me quite some time to get up and follow- from sitting, to kneeling, them hoisting myself up to my feet, and waiting for my back cramp to subside- and by the time I was ready to go, he was nowhere to be seen.
I started limping around, calling his name, getting more and more frantic. A minute passed. Two minutes. No sign of Vijay.
I hit the panic button with full force, grabbing the first bookstore employee I could find and screaming, “I can’t find my son.” She was wonderful- quickly locking down the entire bookstore and turning on the alarm. Every employee, and several customers began looking for Vijay- frankly, I don’t remember any of this happening, I was in my own world of panic and tears. Meanwhile, my husband had just come in, and as soon as he saw my face, he took off for the second floor of the bookstore, knowing just what was going on. Granted- this is not a large bookstore- two stories, pretty contained. But I was having visions of Vijay being snatched, or having run out into traffic.
Perhaps four minutes had passed when I heard an employee shout- “He’s here. He’s been found.” My husband had found him on the second floor, in the very back of the bookstore, making his way into the stock room. By this time, all eyes were on us, and I was sobbing as I took him in my arms. What a sight I must have been- super pregnant, super hysterical, clinging to my little guy, who was smiling without a care in the world, having no idea what all the fuss was about. All’s well that ends well, I suppose, and this ended up being a pretty minor incident, all things considered, but it took several hours for my heart rate to return to normal, and for the tears to subside. I was weepy for the rest of the evening, thinking of what could have happened. I woke up with nightmares throughout the night, and had to go into the nursery and check on my sleeping boy.
I am learning that being a mother means a big piece of your heart is outside of your body, walking around the world, susceptible to danger. Heightened emotions, and extreme fragility are just two of the side effects of this. You hear mothers tell stories about losing their children all the time- usually told with laughter years after the actual incident occurs. I think it will take years before I can talk about this incident without tearing up. In the meantime, I’m holding my little guy close today, and thinking that perhaps a play day at home is just what the doctor ordered.
I’m curious- have you ever felt that panic when you thought you lost your child? Any stories you would care to share to ease my feeling of being ‘the only one this has ever happened to?’