I just have to say that if you don’t know how much you love your children, just lose them for a good 5-10 minutes in a public place, and you will know! That is one darn terrifying moment for a mother! Of course I know that I love my children, but sometimes they drive me crazy! I had a darn good scare today that had me shaking.
I wanted to make a quick trip to the grocery store, before lunch, to pick up some deli sandwiches for a girlfriend and myself. She was bringing her kids over for a lunch playdate, and we were just going to hang out. She has been battling breast cancer, chemo, surgery, and the whole lot. She is still in the thick of it, but we thought a get together where the kids could play and we could relax, would be just what we both needed. Anyway, I wanted to run into Bel Air, order our sandwiches, pick up some bread and milk and be on my way. Because I was in a hurry, I didn’t want to deal with getting a shopping cart. Brielle, my 3 year old, had other ideas. She not only wanted a shopping cart; she wanted one that had a car on the front, so she could drive it. I didn’t want to take the time to deal with it, since company would be showing up at my house soon (my fault – yes). There is often a line at the deli, and I wanted to hurry and get in it, so I told the boys to bring their sister along. We go to Bel Air often enough that they knew right where I’d be. My oldest is 8 and very capable – when he wants to be. By golly, I didn’t think they would all leave her there!
A few moments went by and my three boys came and stood by me at the deli. I asked them where Brielle was, and they shrugged their shoulders. I looked at my oldest and said, “you were supposed to bring her with you!” He ran back over to the front of the store, where he left her with the shopping cart. He came back to me and said, “she’s not there.” He didn’t seem worried about it, but I sure was! I immediately ran over there and sure enough, the car/cart was left right in front of the sliding doors, and she wasn’t there!!!!!!! It sure looked like a crime scene – empty cart and no child. 🙁 I tried not to panic right away, and immediately looked all around and outside the doors. Still no Brielle! The more time that passed, the more panicked I got. I asked the nearest cashier if he had seen her. He told me he knew what she looked like (because I’m a regular), but that he hadn’t seen her come by. I noticed people looking at me as I scurried about the store, but nobody bothered to help me!! I went and checked the women’s restroom and no luck there. Then one of the deli gals, whom I adore, asked me if my little girl was missing. I said yes, and she said she’d check the men’s restroom while I looked outside. As far as I knew, she was the only single person helping me look for my child. I ran outside and ran up and down the sidewalks, screaming Brielle’s name. NOTHING. There was even an elderly man who thought it would be funny to stand in the middle of the sidewalk, with his arms out, and block me as I tried to run by. He had a smile on his face and thought he was pretty funny. I told him my daughter was missing, and he just said to me, “now just calm down. When was the last time you saw her?” I ignored him, because I didn’t think he’d be of any help to me. She was 3, and I had a right to panic.
I swear that about 5-10 minutes passed before anything changed. Miranda (the deli gal) and I were the only ones looking, as far as I could tell. I went back into the store and the cashier paged Brielle, as if the 3 year old is going to hear it and know where the front of the store is. Then I told him to send out a memo for people to keep an eye out for a redheaded little girl. We have a bank inside the front of our store, and many people were in line, just watching me panic. I recognized one lady, from church, who asked me if I had found her. I told her no, and she still just stood there and went about her business. Seriously people – if you see a panicked mother who has lost a child, offer to help!!!!!
After one more time of running out to the car, to see if she went out there, I spotted Miranda. She yelled from the other end of the store that they found Brielle back by the Pharmacy. We NEVER go back to the pharmacy! This was so out of character for Brielle to head to that part of the store. My little wanderer had me scared to death. Of course, when an employee brought her to me, Brielle seemed totally fine. She wasn’t scared one bit. This girl is going to keep me worrying, I’m afraid. I immediately took the kids outside by the plants, threw my purse and phone on the ground and just sobbed! As I ran around screaming my daughter’s name, all of the thoughts of missing children, who had been found dead, abused or found YEARS later, just kept running through my head. That is a mother’s worst nightmare right there.
I decided the Bel Air sandwiches would have to wait for another day. I walked the kids to the car and stood there at the car door, and talked to them about how scary that was, and what could have happened. I continued to cry and a mother (or grandmother) who was putting her child in the car next to mine, said, “are you okay mom?” I said, “No, I’m not”. She came over and gave me a great big hug, teared up and said she understood, and that that is every mother’s worst nightmare. It was so sweet of her to come over. Would have been nice to know that other people were helping look for my baby in the store, but still nice.
I called my friend and asked if McDonald’s drive-thru was okay, because I was not going back into that store. Luckily she was okay with that.
I realize that some of you may have your judgments and think that this is all my fault, and I should be more attentive. This may be true. I can be given the terrible mother award for the day, or week! I will not be counting on my older children to keep an eye on their sister, for quite some time. My little wanderer is going to have to get a leash or something. I have 4 children, and I have taught them to watch out for each other. I think this was a good lesson for us all, to keep better watch on each other, and to protect each other. I swear, 5-10 minutes of having your baby go missing, feels like an eternity! Big reminder to step up and be a better mom. Not lettin’ that baby out of my sight for a while.
While I am going to step up my parenting, I am working to help Raley’s Stores see how important it is to set a store policy for what to do when these situations arise. You can help get the word out, and help make an impact, by tweeting @raleysstores. Here is a sample tweet that you can use, if you’d like. “Scary for a Mother to lose a child in a public place! Stores should have policies 4 said situations @raleysstores http://cleverhousewife.com/2012/07/terrifying-moment-for-mother/”