Parenting is an abundance of moments that take your breath away. Cry. Scream. Jump for joy. But some moments just slam your chest so hard, you gasp for a breath. Struggle and gasp again.
Monday was my moment to feel my heart sputter and ache that it still brings tears to my eyes.
Our 8 year old was at a program sponsored by a neighborhood school. When the program ended, he waited. And waited. Not knowing if I was coming, being the last one, and to see if someone was waiting outside, he left the safety of the school. Once outside, he was locked out. No one answered his knocks. His next decision, against his normal worry mindset, led him to walk home. With darkness settling in, 18 degree air, and without the experience of ever taking this 1 mile trek, he set off.
Driving to the school to pick him up and still 1/2 way to go, my headlights found a terrified, cold, familiar face walking in the road. With the sidewalks still not cleared, he ventured to road. What I cannot erase from my retinas, his frightened, tear stained face. He didn’t know what happened to us. Were we coming? Did we forget him? Once inside the warmth and safely in the van, he shut down and just wanted to go home to the security of his bed.
After many hugs, reassurance, and heart to hearts, his face and body relaxed, a bit. How did this happen?? It turns out we were given the incorrect end time, instead given the previous years time. With no one around, unable to return into the building, he searched deep and found his brave, big boy pants. And walked.
My anxiety is the what if…. He passed a poorly lit parking lot, across from a large equally dark cemetery, dressed in dark colored clothing, and in the road. This mommy mind filled with the unmentionables. The headlines. But none of them happened. I know someone was watching over him. Someone calmed his fears and led him towards home. I am thankful.
After a family meeting about safety, emergencies, and lots of cuddles, I swept him in my arms and said, “you are so brave”. Inside I said, thank you.
My M is stronger than I.