A couple of weeks ago I experienced the scariest 30 minutes of my life. I say it was 30 minutes but it felt more like 2 years.
It all started when I went to K & J's school to eat lunch with them, as I usually do on the weeks they spend with their dad. One week is so long to go without seeing their smiling faces, so I usually surprise them one day and eat lunch with them. I signed in as usual, and walked into the cafeteria to see J's class already seated and eating. I see J's buddies...but no J. Strange...maybe he went to the bathroom? "Where's J?", I asked his number 1 bro. "He's not here today", he replied looking a little uncertain. Like he was thinking, "you're his mom, shouldn't you know that?" Quite frankly, he was right.
I thought maybe J was sick and had to stay home and his dad just hadn't let me know yet, so I decided to wait for K's class. But when they arrived at the cafeteria, her teacher informed me K also had not made it to school that morning.
At first I felt anger. Why weren't they at school?? And why hadn't I been told they weren't at school?? I called and texted their dad...no answer. So I headed over to his place. I figured if they weren't at school, they had to be sick at home with him. My anger was slowly turning into worry though I tried not to panic. Surely there had to be a logical explanation for what was happening. But when I pulled up outside his house and his car wasn't there...and no one answered when I knocked at the door...I lost it. Where were my kids???? The most helpless feeling in the world overtook me and tears began streaming down my face. Where in the world could they be? For some reason, the thought of them trapped inside a car when it was 90 degrees outside kept coming to mind. Even though I know they're old enough to unlock the car and get out, for some reason I couldn't shake that feeling.
My hands were shaking as I called the police. Seems irrational now, but at the time all I could think about was doing whatever I had to to find my kids. I explained the situation to the dispatcher and she told me the police were on the way. That's when I finally got the call from my ex, saying the kids were with him, they were fine and he was dropping them off at school right then...at 12:30pm...but that's another blog post for another day...
The point I want to make is this. I was uncertain of my children's whereabouts for 30 minutes at the most, and in that short space of time I almost lost my mind. The feeling of not knowing where they were and not having the power to do anything about it is one I hope to never experience ever again. I can't imagine how parents cope when their children are missing for days, weeks, months, years, decades even...and they have no idea where they are. How do you ever get past the pain of losing a child? How do you continue living your life, not knowing where your child is? I hope I never have to find out.
Since that day, I take the time to tell my kids I love them more than usual, hug them a little tighter and cherish every single second I have with them. I pay special attention to every word that comes out of their mouth to savor the sound of their sweet little voices while I can. I praise them for even the smallest of achievements.
I encourage you to do the same.
- Hey! I'm Charlotte, a thirty-something year old, single mother of two preteens who keep me on my toes! I am also a survivor of domestic abuse and adultery in the context of a marriage. I have spent the past several years rebuilding my life and using my experiences to educate and encourage others. I would love to connect with you on social media - check out the links in the Follow Me section above, and don't forget to subscribe to the blog for the latest updates!