Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: I Ain't Missing You At All: The Day I Lost My Child

Thursday, 3 May 2018

I Ain't Missing You At All: The Day I Lost My Child

I never thought that I would be one of those parents. When other parents confessed that it had happened to them, I would always say that it could easily happen to me but I never actually believed it. Despite uttering all the right things, tilting my head at just the right angle to denote heart felt empathy and oozing compassion in the tone of my voice, I never truly considered that it might really happen to me.

Well today it did.

Today, I lost my child.

And the very, very worst thing about it was: I didn't even notice.

I had been out running errands in town on a solo parenting day and we had been having the best time. We don't often go into town as a trio because, let's face it, shopping with children is a nightmare. A vaccine to the thrill of retail therapy. If you suffer with the incurable habit of shopping take some children with you, it is an experience akin to having an incredibly heavy night imbibing [insert liquor of your choice here]; someone will be forcing you to do it and living through the consequences leaves you broken, bereft and never wanting to drink that particular tipple again. Well that is shopping with toddlers. Heaven forbid you had to cope with the aftermath of the former whilst doing the latter. It doesn't bear thinking about.

Shopping with Toddlers

This day, however, we had to throw caution to the wind as life admin was calling and it can only be postponed for so long. You may recall from my earlier posts that I lack the ability to "adult"? Well, I currently have a bank card which went through the tumble dryer 3 weeks ago so now resembles Flat Stanley with a severe stomach ache. Happily it still taps meaning I can spend liberally provided it's less than £30 in any one shop with a contactless pay terminal. Whilst this is great for the family economy drive it is becoming more than just a little infuriating. To cancel it would mean losing the tapping ability until a new one arrived so I defer but today, today was the day and I was going to go old school and ask a real life bank teller to hand me some cold hard cash while they were at it. So with that, and a series of other really unexciting tasks that i shall not bore you with (and that no teenager considers when they spout blind fury about not yet having come of age) we were committed.

My kids though, my kids were brilliant. We were a team; the three musketeers, all in it together. I was a shepherd with her flock. There was no great rush, I was merely herding my charges towards our destination at a leisurely pace. They were both on great form, delighting in the company of the kindly tram conductor who issued pretend tickets and bestowed upon them the great responsibility of opening the door when we pulled in to each stop. They were beside themselves with joy. They held hands and waved at passers by as they ambled along the pedastrianised streets whilst I brought up the rear (and the pram). It was delightful. The sun was shining and we were blessed in our mundanity.


We were accomplishing some of the more tedious tasks when my phone started to ring; with eyes still firmly glued on my offspring I answered and relayed to them the news that their beloved grandmother was minutes away. The whoops; the excitement! My two year old led the charge towards the door telling all in sundry that he was off to see his "Moomie" and I was close behind; a mere fingertip away whilst holding hands with the eldest as she gabbled about everything she had to tell her.

When my mother arrived we immediately had to divide and conquer as the excitement of having her favourite person within touching distance had had the predictable effect on the toddler's bladder. So whilst I took the eldest down several escalators into the bowels of the department store in search of a urination receptacle, my mother wrestled with an overenthusiastic toddler who was attempting to lick all the make up from her face. We each had our challenges.

Having emptied the toddler bladder and discussed everything from volcanos and evolution to school and fashion we regrouped at ladies wear. I briefly mentioned a need to purchase swimwear for our upcoming holiday and lifted a couple off the rail for half hearted inspection. The thing is, I could see him. I saw him at my mum's feet. He was there. I knew he was.

Going incognito

A split second later, a lovely lady with a kind face touched my arm and told me that my son was wandering around the shop floor. I shook my head. No, she must be mistaken. That cannot be my son. He is right there. As I turned to gesture back towards my mum's feet, I caught a glimpse of a small boy clutching the hand of another shop assistant looking uncertain and a little confused. It was my son. He wasn't with me. He was with her.

I pushed past, picked him up and held him to me. My thoughts ricocheted from sheer relief for a panic that I never had the chance to experience to incandescent rage that he had walked away from me. My daughter would never have done that. My daughter's nervous temperament means she fears her own shadow when cast in the wrong light. She never strays beyond where she can see me and she will check, regularly and often that I am nearby. I wasn't prepared. I had always thought it was something in my parenting prowess that had made her that way and therefore he would be the same but he is so far from being the same that I struggle to comprehend it at times. How could he walk away?

Easily distracted this one

The tears rose and the panic lodged despite the fact that the threat had passed. How could I not have known? How could I have let this happen? Why hadn't I locked him into the pram and ignored his protestations? He would have been safe. Mightily (and audibly) disgruntled but safe. It was because I was being selfish; I was looking at something for myself and distracted by adult conversation. I was too lenient when it came to locking him down. I should have known. I should have done better.

I had to get them home. Home and safe.

So we left. I carried him the entire mile and a half home, refusing to put him down or let him out of my embrace. He had rallied entirely but I was in need of reassurance. I had to feel his warm skin against my cheek and heaviness in my arms to dispel the sick feeling lodged in my chest. I was playing out the worst outcomes in my head whilst equally being unable to consider them in their entirety.

To the ladies of Marks & Spencer's I thank you. I thank you for delighting in my children when we initially navigated our way through your busy store and for waving back and asking them questions while we waited for the lift. I thank you for seeing him, reassuring him and bringing him back to me. Thank you for saying "these things happen" and "it doesn't matter because he is safe now". I thank you for not judging me as harshly as I judge myself.

Needless to say I do not have any plans to go shopping again anytime soon and I still have that bloody bank card.

Bloody bank card

Lucy At Home

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