It’s a fear we all have.
It’s a feeling of panic and sickness.
Its that moment when you realise you can’t find your child and you’re in a public place.
The look on the mothers face when she was coming to the realisation that she couldn’t find her daughter, it ripped at my heart. I’d seen her searching a few minutes earlier when she came to the indoor playground and had a peek around. I instantly knew what was going on. Not long after her friend was doing laps, I asked if I could help, what did the child look like, her name. But it felt like a nothing effort. It wasn’t even my child and I felt a desperation to help. Shortly after the mother came back to the play area and attempted to speak, she was justifiably and understandably terrified, panic was gripping her. The words came out of her mouth disjointed as she tried to describe her daughter. That fear is so real. She ran off and everything in me wanted to round up the boys and join the mission.
Only once have I felt I lost Jacob, maybe only 5 minutes but it felt like a lifetime. The initial reasoning ‘I’m just overreacting’ doesn’t last long when it comes to your babies. Two minutes of not knowing where he was and I was beside myself. So watching this mother search for her daughter for what felt like even a lifetime for me was real and gut wrenching. I heard another mother mutter “That’s why you can never take your eyes off your children”. It may have been a well intended comment or malicious who knows, but we all know the realities of why it happened. Sure, the mother averted her eyes for a moment – that’s all it takes. We are human and it truly is impossible for us to be engaged, aware and alert of what our children are doing at every single moment. I felt frustrated at that mum, but then I thought well maybe it’s never happened to her. I hope it never does.
But from a mother who has been there all you need to hear is that it can happen to anyone. I guess in the back of your mind you know the rationality behind the situation… this happens a lot to a lot of mummas, they always find their kids. But you can’t reason with a mother’s instinct. We are animalistic, maternal and protective beyond explanation. If your baby isn’t by your side, it don’t matter how often this kind of thing happens, they are not there and the world will stop turning until the moment you hold them again.
There are so many elements to the fear stricken mother of a lost child – terror that they are not here with you, fear that something bad could happen to them, the vulnerability that you are not in control and their wellbeing is no longer in your hands. It touches on all the stuff that mums feel instinctively.
Seeing this mother today reminded me of the incredible love we have for our mini human beings. How raw it is. How unbridled that love can be. How it can strip us of all reason and reality and leave us achingly exposed for the love filled mess we really are. Despite the horror of the events, it was so refreshing to reflect and see that human emotion in such beauty. A mothers love is undeniably powerful and like no other. Seeing that mother today reminded me of why we are all so special. Why it is only us women who can fill the role of mother. Why the father has his special role we cannot fill, and still the role of mumma is one in itself.
I did keep my eyes open for the little girl with leopard print shoes and was so comforted to see her in her mothers arms at a nearby café. Love resided in the embrace of those two beautiful beings. I know that mother will swear she will never take her off her child ever again, she will question how on earth she even got away in the first place and she will drag herself through the thorn ridden garden of mum guilt. It’s bound to happen. It’s the process she needs to go through - the reasoning, the guilt, then finally the forgiveness. But we all know, there was nothing she could have done better. She was already doing her best, it’s just a simple fact that its humanly impossible to never take your eyes of your kids. It’s also known that they don’t need much of an opening to make a beeline for whatever exciting object they spotted afar or feeling the breeze of an open space. That’s kids. I hope tonight this mumma is realising that it’s just mums too, it can happen to anyone, it doesn’t determine your worthiness and capabilities as a mum. She will probably feel sick to her stomach thinking about all the what ifs, but I’m hoping she can be kind to herself whilst she hugs her gorgeous little one safely in her arms.
Remind yourself every single human being makes mistakes, has moments when they feel so heavily responsible for their actions and you dear mumma, are just as human as the rest of us. Hold your little ones close tonight and remember you’re already being a mum in the very best way you know how.