Monday, March 16, 2009

A Mother's Confession

The other day, Kate and I went to Target. I thought, as we were headed in the store, maybe Kate would like to walk with me instead of sitting in the cart. So we went inside, I firmly grasped her hand, took a basket, and off we went. Immediately she was mesmerized by the cards and wanted to pull each one of them off the shelf. I quickly redirected her toward the toddler section to the diapers we needed. I had to laugh because as we left the card section, I saw a lady trying to corral her much-older-than-Kate daughter and when this lady saw us, she said to her daughter, "see how well that girl is walking next to her mom?"

We get to the diaper section and I set the basket down. Kate has located her brand of diapers and is happily examining the babies on the box fronts, pointing and saying baby, baby. I drop her hand, pick up a box of diapers, realize it won't fit in my basket, say hmmmm, look down...and realize Kate is GONE. Completely. I can neither hear nor see her. Of course, she's wearing her pink striped coat that blends in incredibly well with the colorful kids' section. I am frantic--Kate?! I call, realizing as I say it how futile it is to actually call her like she'd come. She is, after all, only 18 months old. I dodge through the displays, heading back the way we came and accost a couple with a child in a cart. "Did you see a girl with a pink jacket come this way?" I say as I rush by. "There she is," they say, pointing behind me. It's not her. "No, that's not her!" I respond as I keep bobbing up and down, trying to see behind displays and racks of clothes. Of course, it does not help that Jon and I just saw the movie Taken this last weekend. It also does not help that Kate is about half the height of most of the displays. I see a Target team member in red and shout my question in her direction as my eyes scan the long aisle. Oh, praise the Lord! There she is, about to turn the corner at the newborn section, about 50 yards away from me. I sprint off after her, not knowing I could run so fast while being 6 months pregnant. Thankfully, her escape is slowed by a man pushing a large cart, which has caught her attention. She is standing in front of him, looking at his cart when I catch her. "Oh, I thought there'd be someone nearby" says the man. I say thank you and start walking away, hugging that child like I hadn't seen her in the longest 20 seconds of my life. Which is about how long it took to lose and find her.

Of course, I am admonishing her as we head toward the front of the store (to get a cart) but I realize who is to blame. She hasn't been taught to stay by me in the store. She doesn't know she has to keep mommy in sight. She doesn't know she could turn a corner, look around and not find me. So I am telling her all these things as we head toward a the carts, while I thank everyone I see. (The man-half of the couple I accosted earlier went with me on my run to get Kate, which was very kind. I didn't notice until I had her that he was trying to help me.) Kate must have realized something was wrong because her answer to everything I said was ok. Ok. And she didn't squirm while I squeezed her tight.

Thank you, Lord, for watching out for our little girl while mommy learned a valuable lesson. Thank goodness I was able to learn it the easy way and not a more difficult way--I realize I had scenarios running through my brain that included closing off the exits and enlisting the help of every Target employee in the store. Needless to say, Daddy was not happy with that story when he came home later that day, but to his credit, he did not make me feel worse than I already did. Also, needless to say, whenever we go to the store Kate is in a cart. At least, until I teach her how to stay with me in a store. That will be a lesson for another day, I think.


Christina said...

Oh my gosh Jen, that must have been so scary. I always put Coop in a cart (and he is almost 3) but only because I don't want to chase him--he is quick like a rabbit and I hate chasing him. Plus last week I was in a store and he literally ran out the door and into the street. He could have been hit by a car (thank goodness he wasn't)

Were not perfect Jen, no one expects you to be. Your going to make mistakes and learn from them. But everyday you try your very best and you love her--that is all that matters.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my sweet Jennifer, I DO know how you feel!!! Those seconds become lifetimes, and of course our little ones are oblivious to our fear. I'm sure Kate was absolutely content and tickled with her exploring! Praise God you found her so quickly. Ask her Daddy about getting lost off the school bus! You are one terrific Mom and I'm so glad the episode was brief. Give her an extra hug from her Gram and Pops, and thanks for the story...every parent everywhere can relate. The other day I lost Papa (91 yrs young) in a store and had close to the same moments of anxiety! The full, Mom/Gram

Beth and Melinda said...

Oh goodness,
That happened w/ me a few times....ask my folks what a little explorer I was, and when I was a nanny--doesn't 20 seconds feel like eons.
Thank goodness all was well!
How was that movie--I want to see it...

Nana said...

Oh, Jen,
I'm so sorry you had to experience that scare. I'm sure you started beating yourself up as soon as you realized Kate was not in sight. Aren't you glad God is watching over us and protecting? We all make mistakes, and we get wise because of them.

But my big question to you is, why would you give her the taste of freedom in a store? Getting her to stay in that cart after "freedom" causes a whole new set of challenges. Let's pray she quickly forgets how fun it is to go down all of those aisles looking at all those fun things!

Beth said...

two things:
1. I remember going to the lost kids room at Disneyland with mom and dad and finding you there. even the best kids wander off.
2. once in ace hardware (i think) when i was about 6 i turned around and hugged what i thought was dad's legs but it was some other man's legs. no fun.
you're still the best mother there is! you're doing a great job.

Caitlin L said...

oh Jen! I'm sorry you had to go through this! You've also taught me a lesson, though that's probably no consolation! ha! But, I'm totally preg and reading this and about to cry! I can't imagine the horror filling your mind. Ok, I can imagine it. ah! Praise God for His loving care and constant watching out for uS!

Mrs_Scotsman said...

It is an awful feeling - know!

After something like that happens you no long judge someone who keeps their kid on one of those backpack leashes.

Good for you recognizing that she can't be responsible yet for knowing to do something she hasn't been taught. This will come in time as you work with her on the concept. It'll be good to get that one taken care of soon since you can't have them both in the front of the cart at the same time.

Erin said...

I love this post! We have ALL thought it might be fun to let our little ones NOT ride in the trolley ... that happens only ONCE! I'm sorry you had such a scare. There is nothing scarier than thinking you have lost/someone has taken your child. I have felt that fear and it is nothing to sneeze at. I'm proud of your for posting about it! You're still a terrific mom!

Jen Luminati said...

Thanks to everyone for the encouragement! I know I wasn't alone in making this mistake and I'm glad to be reminded of that fact!

Anonymous said...

Yes Jen,
This is true - there isn't a parent around that hasn't been in that very same scary place. The memory of it with all of it's details will never leave you. However, thank the Lord for a happy ending!

Blythe said...

One time we left Ben at home when he was like 10. One of us had a friend with us. We all piled in the car; Daddy checked the rear view mirror & counted five heads & left! Five or ten minutes down the road, someone noticed that Benjamin wasn't in the car. that was pretty funny.