I lost my kid once.
That's not the type of thing you're supposed to admit. Especially in the post-mommy wars world where every sanctimonious first time mother of a 6 day old baby is clearly a better parent than anyone who's been in the ring for a decade or more.
But it happened, just before her third birthday on one of those lazy afternoons in early May, as I was chopping vegetables for dinner and wondering absentmindedly where my life had gone. How had I become this stereotype making dinner for my little family, waiting with the door open for my older children to burst through the after school sunlight in a fury of "can I have a snack" or "what's for dinner". My two year old waiting eagerly at the door for her sisters to arrive and promptly ignore her because no one ever wants to play with the baby.
She asked me something in not quite 3 year old speak that I lazily agreed to but couldn't recall a second later, I was in a day dream of carrots and celery chopping and wondering if I'd ever have a conversation with a co-worker who wasn't 3ft tall ever again, waiting for my husband to walk in the door and appreciate the house work and dinner prep as he always does.
And quick as that thought scattered through my brain I heard the wheels in the back driveway and glanced to the open front door, "G, daddy's home".
But G wasn't there, in fact, she wasn't anywhere. I burst through that screen door faster than a cheetah chasing an antelope. And immediately bumped into my older daughters, the eldest of whom was holding G, "hey mom look what we found," she chided as my pulse hammered through every ounce of my existence. The frantic terror of every single what if.
"I found dem mama!" G squealed with glee, "you said uh huh so I went and found my big girls!"
It took a second. Less than a second even. For her to run out that door into our quiet suburban neighbourhood in bare feet and trot down the sidewalk toward the school.
I listen better now, she's older now. But I'll never forget that moment when a day dream nearly cost me everything.