Missing son and the Mommy who had to pee

When my older son was about 6 years old I did something that I thought that I would never do.  So bear with me as I tell this totally irresponsible parenting faux pas of the highest order.  My daughter was a little over a year old and she and my 6-year-old were both in the backseat of the car.   My 3-year-old was still at his daycare and I was going to pick him up.   I had worked all day, left work, went and picked up the baby and then my 6-year-old from school and was on my way to pick up my 3-year-old.  I was exhausted. I had been up since about 3 that morning with my 3-year-old because of his asthma, I was giving him a breathing treatment.  My then husband was asleep or pretending to be asleep, and of course never bothered to get up to help me with the 3-year-old and then when it was time to go to work, he got up, got dressed, played with the kids and left the house.  My responsibility was to get the kids dressed, fed and dropped off to daycare AND then I went to work my 8 hour job and did the whole thing all over again in reverse.

This day I was pooped and irritated and feeling overwhelmed and angry.  I had to pee.  Without children peeing is easy; you park your car, you walk leisurely or quickly depending on the level of pee-ness, into the establishment and you ask to use their restroom.  If they decide you are worthy, you get to go.  If they have a sign that says no public restrooms you move on the next establishment.  I mean really, if we come into their business and stand in line or tolerate rude employees and spend quite a few dollars, you would think that they might allow us to pee?  I digress. 

 So, if you have children and you have to pee – that is a whole ‘nother story. Not only do you have to pee, and again depending on your degree of pee-ness, you have to factor in the car seat, can you get it out, how fast can you get it out, if they decide you are not worthy to use the bathroom at their establishment you have to walk with a car seat filled with a baby who was asleep before you took them out of the car and go to another establishment.  Then if you have another child with you (or 2 or 3 children) where are they going to go – with you of course.  So now, it is you, the baby in the car seat, the other child/children and all of your pee-ness. Then you go to the bathroom.  And then reverse – you put you, the car seat and the baby and the child/children back into the car.  The baby who was asleep is now fully awake and crying, the child/children begged you for every piece of candy or soda as you were walking to the bathroom and now they are all hyped up and whiney because they didn’t get to get anything and they add that you are not fair mommy to make sure you understand the degree of their disappointment in this mommy who simply has to pee.

Do you have any idea how long all of this takes?  Well any mom out there will tell you – this can take at least 30 – 45 minutes to even get to the bathroom.  So, what did I do?

I told my 6-year-old the following: that I will be right back, lock the door, don’t open it for anyone because mommy really, really has to go to the bathroom real bad. I parked the car, ran into Longs Drugs, pee-d and came out and it took all of about 10 minutes – I am a real fast pee-r.  When I came out, I looked in the direction of  the car and saw no one.  My heart began to beat fast.  I began to run.  I was talking to myself and I said calm down he is probably laying down.  You see I could not see my 6-year-old in the car, I saw the car seat.  As I approached running I looked in all of the windows, opened the locked door with my key and flipped back the covering for the car seat – she was in there.  I knew my son was in the car, so I looked under the seat – well not much seat to look under it was a Toyota wagon before people started buying SUV’s so it was a real station wagon.  No son!  My heart was beating out of my chest, my face was sweating, I was screaming my son’s name in the parking lot – no one even cared.  People were walking by with glances of ‘crazy lady’ and kept on walking.  I ran near the store and asking people if they saw a little 6-year-old black boy with a uniform on and no one responded.  I began to cry and cry and walk and shake and then there he was.  Walking out of the automatic doors and he was crying.  I screamed his name, I hugged him, I kissed him, he was crying.  I asked him where he was, why did he get out of the car,  what happened, why did he leave his sister.  He was 6 . He was crying and then he said mommy I had to go to the bathroom so I locked the door and followed you in the store and then I didn’t see you anymore. So I came back out.  I was shaking. People were looking.  He had pee-d on himself. I told him it was alright.  I apologized to him.  We got in the car. I cried and apologized some more.  I told him that I will never ever do that again and I meant it.

The fear I felt that day can not be quantified.  My fear  was only for about 10 minutes.  My son was missing for only 10 minutes.  As I write this story I can feel my heart beating fast.  I have never forgotten that feeling.  That was 8 years ago. The comparison of my fear to those of parents whose children go missing and never return is not comparable.  How do you live through that? I don’t have the answer. This was all my fault.  Parents we have to be more vigilant and not so judgemental.  How many times have we done something which is so stupid and we just have to look back and thank the Lord nothing bad happened. We need to, when given the opportunity to correct an irresponsible,  behavior or to even allow one to happen while in our presence,  must correct it and make sure that we never repeat it. And give parents who are just plain old tired a hand up and not always point the finger of blame. 

 Our children’s lives are really in our hands.  I pray for the parents and caregivers and guardians whose children are missing for more than 10 minutes.  I pray for the child and for the families.  There really is nothing more to be said. Amen.

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