This is actually an article I submitted for a magazine contest called, “What Motherhood Means to Me.” It didn’t win, but I certainly enjoyed writing it. It’s not particularly funny like most of my other posts, but it captured a moment in my life that now seems happily so totally far away.
I lost my daughter for eight seconds at the carnival.
The last time I saw her she was holding the handle of the stroller containing her little brother. As I wandered among the game booths, I assumed she was still hanging on. I stopped to watch my friend’s son play a game, turned around and she wasn’t there. My stomach heaved as I realized this is the moment I fear most. I kept turning in circles thinking she was behind me, but she was gone. I panicked and yelled to my friend while we froze and scanned the crowd. On a regular day, I doubt I could conjure up what my daughter is wearing, but in that moment, I could have given you a pin-perfect description of the red birthmark on her eyelid that flares up when she cries to the smeary globe painted on her face.
Another thought raced through my head. He was right. I can’t handle this. I can’t handle being a single mother of two children. I will never make it. One of us will never make it.
I instantly felt the tightness in my gut. The same tightness I get when I sing to them at night, when they ask endless streams of “why” questions with answers too broad and deep to answer. Why is Charlie a baby? Why am I a girl? Why are you crying? Stumpers, I call them.
Then I saw her. Her striped dress, her pink hair bow, her eyes wide with wonder at the sights and sounds of the carnival. Her hand in the air still holding the stroller that was no longer there. I scooped her up, gave her a stern warning and headed off, breathing easier, holding back tears, and more determined than ever to prove him wrong.
Update: I did.
In honor of NaBloPoMo.