Yesterday I lost Everly.
That still sounds so awful, even to type… or text and I can’t even bear to speak it.
I lost her, I lost sight of her for a split second and then lost her, couldn’t find her.. lost, completely lost. I lost her and could’ve lost her forever… the thought process was strong, it was innate, and it was all consuming, she’s gone.
After 5 minutes of shear panic, she was found, and to the mama who brought me back my baby, who’s name I didn’t even think to ask, who handed her to me and then hugged me and told me it happens to the best of us, to that mama, I will never forget your words, and thank you, thank you from the pit of my stomach and the bottom of my heart, thank you.
With that said, there will be those who say “how could she have lost sight of her daughter” there will be those who say “I’m so sorry” and there will be those who say, “I know how you feel and what you’re going through”… whomever you are, please stick around, there’s a lesson to be learned.
Yesterday morning was like every other morning, the babes actually slept in (good because apparently I would need the rest), we got dressed, we played, we ate breakfast and sang songs and danced along with Elmo, just like every other morning. While doing Everly’s hair, she knocked over a glass toiletry holder and shattered it on the tile, my initial reaction was anger, I was upset that she had done that, I had just bought that not too long ago and it was pretty. I was also upset at the gazillion q-tips that now covered the bathroom floor alongside all the glass. I snapped at her in an angry and disappointed tone and she cried and I hugged her and I felt awful, I reassured her that it was okay and she said in her sweet voice “I sorry mama, It’s so bootiful, no sad mama” and I cried… disappointed in my own actions as a mother and how I handled that situation. We got dressed, got out of the house and headed off to a fun play date, just like any other morning.
We got in the car, drove to the county fair, we talked about the animals that we would see and all the fun people that would be there and the yummy treats we would eat… we talked about oceans (because they saw the ocean from the highway) and all the fish in the sea and Dori and turtles… we sang the wheels on the bus while we waited in line to park the car, then we loaded up, and Everly, in her sweet little voice said hi to all the strangers we passed and told them “we go fair”. Just like any other day.
We strolled through the gates, past the security check, straight to the potty, which has become a usual stop for us in our outings now thanks to potty training. Both kids went and I was so proud, out in public using the potty like big tiny little humans. Just like any other day.
We met up with our friends strolled through the fair taking it all in, the babes have become so independent lately so I let them out of the stroller but they were walking so slow and moving in two different directions. It can be frustrating to move at the pace of a snail when the crowd is moving along like jaguars. I was getting annoyed, i could feel the same tone in my voice that I had that morning, I was frustrated and disappointed that they couldn’t keep up. I wanted to move along the same speed as everyone else and they kept stopping or getting distracted or dropping things. But really, this was just like any other day… toddlers are very slow, everything is new to them and they need time to process it and take it all in, they’re just very very slow. Also, they’re legs are like 1/5 the size of mine. I tried to be patient, take a deep breath, and let them explore and do it on their own.
We went to Kiddy-land at the fair, where it was all things kids and there were tons of kids. The rides were small, meant for tiny humans and the snack stops were brightly colored and smelled of cotton candy and chocolate. The carny games were in full force and it was such a fun environment, but busy, so very busy.
We bought tickets and rode our first rides, with our friends and the joy I felt from seeing them experience something for the first time and loving it was overwhelming, like any other time I’d witnessed them do something for the first time.
My one fair ‘want’ was a funnel cake and I finally spotted a stand selling them. We all stepped over to the line and waited… and then it happened. I had Everly in sight, paid for my funnel cake, stepped out of line and started tending to Easton who was having an epic meltdown over lemonade. I had told him no more and he was losing it, complete with kicking me in the face and yelling and crying in public. I was consumed in his fit.
Something got under my skin, I took the lemonade away from him and grabbed him out of the stroller, ready to pop his bottom and tell him we don’t act that way in public, but then something didn’t feel right, something was gone, Everly was gone, I couldn’t see her, I didn’t know where she was, she’s run off before but never strays too far and I can always hear her sweet little high pitched voice chatting up someone or the pitter patter of her little feet running towards me to say peek a boo… something was terribly wrong, she was gone.
I panicked, I grabbed Easton started yelling for “Everly”, I remember saying to my friend, “Oh God Jo, she’s gone, I cant see her, she’s gone”. I started running and yelling “Everly” … I ran to the nearest cop and gave him a full description of her, not something you ever want to do, and then started running again, wandering aimlessly screaming “Everly”… it seemed like I ran screaming for over an hour but it was actually only 5 minutes before I heard the words “we found her”.
I just stared repeating it, we found her, we found her, and there she was… I froze and started crying, I can remember and will probably always remember that feeling of holding her… that fear, like the first time I held her as a newborn, that instinctual fear and beauty of a mother holding her child, standing completely still but the chaos that is this world is spinning so fast all around you. That feeling of terror and joy, rolled into one uncontrollable emotion we call love.
In that moment, I shook, shook like after birth when Ryan handed me the twins and I was worried I’d give them shaking baby syndrome (legit story)… I shook, I hugged her so tight, crying and shaking right there in the middle of the fair, two of my dear friends, and two complete strangers there to comfort me and say it would be okay, it WAS okay, she was okay. But still the ‘what ifs’ were rolling through my mind, yes, she WAS okay, but what if….
The ‘what ifs’, they will get you. What if I had done this differently, what if… from the very first moment of our seemingly so normal day, I could start with the what ifs. What if I hadn’t gotten upset over broken glass, what if Easton had a potty accident instead of a successful potty trip and I had to take them home, what if I had just put them in the stroller instead of waiting for them to walk slowly through the crowd, what if I hadn’t let them ride rides in kiddy-land during nap time and just packed us up and gone home, what if I hadn’t been so selfish as to wait in line to buy myself a funnel cake, what if I had just given him the lemonade so I wouldn’t be distracted by his fit, what if I would’ve never let Everly out of the stroller to explore, what if what if what if…. you see that’s the lesson, the lesson that I want you to walk away with from my terrible 5 minutes is that, you can’t live off of what ifs… the ‘what ifs’ in this journey of motherhood will drive you right off the edge, the ‘what ifs’ will make you second guess and doubt your every move, the ‘what ifs’ take away your confidence, they break you down…
Motherhood is tough, there are going to be things that happen in our day to day that shake us to the core, that make us doubt ourselves and question if we’re cut out for this job, we will lose sleep over choices we make as a mother. But we are enough… we are cut out for this job, we are doing a great job, we are human and we are all just doing our best to raise good humans. There will be mistakes, there will be ‘what ifs’. And that’s okay. Today, it’s okay! She is OKAY!
So if you find yourself questioning yourself, pondering the ‘what ifs’, wondering if you’re the only mom who has ever made this mistake, whatever the mistake or choice was, worry not, you are NOT alone. I am not the first mom to lose sight of her child in a public setting, I am not the first mom to get frustrated and impatient with a slow toddler, I am not the first mom to get upset over broken glass.
Stay strong mama, you’re doing a great job.