When you become a mother, you automatically join this private club of women. It's an unspoken club, but it exists, nonetheless, of every woman who has a child. There are subsets in this club: Adoptive moms, moms over 40, moms who gave birth without an epidural (I'm in that one, twice over).
I'm the newest member of this subset: Mommies who have lost their child in a public place. I'm also a member of this secondary subset: Mommies who had to call the Police Department when their child got lost.
Yup, that's me. Mother of the Year.'
The Situation: The kids and I were at Rack Room Shoes looking for summer sandals for me. Kendra was supposedly helping me by looking for shoeboxes with my shoe size. (Hey, when you wear a size 11 you get pretty excited when there's actually a shoe in your size.) Caelyn was supposedly in charge of David. Not the best plan, but that's what was happening.
After 30 minutes and several directives to the girls to "please go get your brother and bring him to me," I was checking out at the register. David came up to me with a random box of shoes that he had pulled off a shelf, somewhere. I told him "no touch" and said we were going to leave in a minute. He pouted when I took the shoes away from him and walked off toward the girls.
One minute later, I tell the girls that we are leaving. "Where's David?" I ask. The girls say they don't know, so we make rounds around the store looking for him. After circling the store 3 times, I ask an employee to help me find my son. She checks the storeroom and then says, "Do you want me to call the police?" I can't even tell you how stressed I was beginning to feel. I don't even think I answered her. I just told the girls to stay there with this nice worker and I darted out the front door and started running up and down the strip mall.
When I came back into the store, everything converged within seconds. The employee was on the phone with SAPD trying to describe David's clothes (the girls were helping her and actually remembered what David was wearing). Just as the employee was asking me how to spell my last name, the other worker calls out, "Hey, I think he's in your van."
I ran to the window and yes, David's head is now peeking out of the the sliding door on the minivan. He was rather sweaty, since he'd apparently been sitting there for several minutes watching me run up and down the sidewalk.
The employee told the police that we'd found David just before she gave him our name. I was saved from public humiliation at the police department, at least. I quickly thanked the workers, gathered up the girls, and practically ran out of the store. I don't think I started crying until we'd gotten on the highway.
A truly horrible experience, but I'm grateful for several things. I'm grateful that the car was parked immediately in front of the store, not across the parking lot. I'm grateful, strangely enough, that the car was somehow unlocked so David could get in and be in a relatively safe place.