Day 12 of the 19 Day blogging spree for Top Military Mom… man, I’m still awestruck that enough happens around here to blog about every day, LOL! Now, go vote! Pretty please? With Sugar on top? >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
First off, everyone is safe and sound.
I will not hermit through deployment. That was the goal, right? I would get the kids out and about. I would loosen my ferocious grip on the reigns and trust them… trust myself. I wouldn’t panic, or go all paranoid when we were in public. Yeah. So much for that.
Yesterday, I took the kids to the movies. Monster’s University was calling our name, and I knew they’d freak at the chance to see it. Not to mention it was on our summer bucket list! So, off we went. They were so excited! I love that look on their face, the one that’s pure joy.
So towards the end of the movie, Aidan says he has to go to the bathroom.
I instantly wage my internal, paranoid battle. He’s 8, and the bathroom is directly outside our theater. I keep thinking I have to trust him. For the rest of the deployment, I cannot take all four boys to the bathroom every time one of them has to go. If I trust the Bigs (Aaron and Aidan) to walk down the block to the neighbor’s house, I have to trust him to make it 50 feet to the bathroom and back, right?
He promises me he knows where it is, and he heads to the bathroom.
A couple minutes later, my mommy-senses start tingling. Now, I know I overreact when it comes to my kids. I imagine the worst-case scenario fast enough to elevate my heartbeat to panic-mode. I watch the door, but he doesn’t come in. Right before I’m ready to go hunt him down, Emily says she has to go to the bathroom. (And now I’m feeling bad for the guy at the end of the row). So I ask her to look for Aidan while she’s there.
A few minutes later, she comes back… alone.
I toss Brody to her (he was sitting in my lap), and run down the steps of the theater and out the door. I grab the first guy I see and ask him to head into the boys’ bathroom and call Aidan’s name. Maybe the popcorn upset his belly? Yeah, that has to be it. He comes out a moment later without Aidan, shaking his head.
Now panic clamps my throat shut.
I run to the desk, and asked where every bathroom was in the theater. The manager had sold me our tickets, she’d carried snacks with me to the kids in the theater when I couldn’t hold it all, and she knows from one glance at me that something is wrong, but I can’t say it. Not yet.
I race through the hallways, throwing open the family restroom door. Empty. I run into the boys bathroom at the front of the theater, no longer caring if someone yells about a girl barging in.
“There’s one more,” I tell the manager, and bolt outside the theater. The last time we’d been here, to see The Croods, Jason took the boys the bathroom in the mall. He has to be there. I don’t think I’ve ever run so fast in my life, but I make it down that hallway and into the last bathroom, my last hope before I’ll have to say it, acknowledge my deepest fear.
He isn’t there.
I run back into the theater and choke out the words I’ve prayed I will never have to, “I’ve lost my son.”
Walkie-talkies beeped, and they locked the theater down. As I went back to the theater, the manager came behind me, after listening to her walkie talkie. “There’s four of them right? You have four?”
“Yes,” I mutter, needing to check one more time that he hasn’t found his way back to our seats.
“They’re all there,” the manager says. “In your seats, there are four of them.”
Relief washes through me. This has all been for nothing, and I’ve overreacted again. Man, I’m never going to learn to trust my own kids, right?
But then she speaks again, “Four: your three sons and your daughter.”
No. No. No. NO. “I have four sons and a daughter.”
Now she panics too. We both tear into the theater, and I look up to our seats, just a few rows up, asking Emily (who is 15, remember), if Aidan is back. But I can see. I don’t need to ask, and he’s not there.
This is now my worst nightmare. In about two seconds flat, I’m envisioning police being called, searches for Aidan, and all I can think is “God, I can’t remember what he’s wearing. What is he wearing?” I took a picture this morning, right? Where is he? Does someone have him?
I can’t lose Aidan. I can’t. It’s not possible. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. Where is he?
We’re headed back down the theater, and the walkie-talkies are going off again, but that’s not the sound that catches me. No, it’s the sound of Aidan hysterically sobbing.
As wrong as it is, relief crashes through me, nearly bringing me to my knees. He’s crying. If he’s crying, he’s here. He’s not lost. Crying is okay. It’s like remembering his first newborn cry, that stark burst of joy that he’s alive.
A lady in the alcove of the theater, rocking her fussy baby has the fire exit open, and Aidan comes stumbling out, his breath uneven in cries.
Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, God.
He’d taken the fire exit instead of walking out of the theater, and the door only opens one way. The movie had drown out him yelling to be let back in. He’d been gone about 7 minutes before I panicked, and another ten while I searched for him. Close to twenty minutes in that hallway.
I grab a hold of him and pull him as close as I can without swallowing him whole. I walk him out of the theater and pull him onto my lap on the bench. He can’t speak, he’s crying so hard, clutching onto me as fiercely as I am him. I say the only things I can think of, that I knew he was missing. I noticed he was gone. I’d been searching for him. If I can get one thing across to him, it has to be that he hadn’t been forgotten; I’d missed him. He finally starts to hiccup and laugh when I tell him about barging into the boys’ bathrooms.
Moment over, and so is the movie. We head home, and I can’t think straight for a few hours after.
Those moments were the worst of my life. Even the phone call hearing that Jason had been wounded hadn’t compared to the sheer and absolute terror of thinking Aidan was lost.
I’ve been kicking myself since yesterday. This is what happens when I let them go to the bathroom by themselves.
I’m hoping this doesn’t send me into a crazy tailspin of hermitage. I’m hoping that the next time we’re out, I can be confident in showing him exactly where the bathroom is and trusting Aidan to take the 50 foot trip solo, because the last thing I want is for him to feel like he’s being treated like a baby for what was an honest mistake on his part.
The only thing I’m pretty sure of is that I never want to feel that ever again.
Oh, and he’s had a ton of extra hugs and kisses. Tons.