Losing Your Kid Doesn't Make You a Bad Mom

kid runningWhile walking down one of the main streets near my house in NYC, a frantic mom came running from behind me. She stopped and asked me if I had seen a little boy. I hadn't, but her panic became my panic as she ran off and my husband and I looked down at our own two kids and then started looking around for her little boy. This mom's husband came running behind her, pushing a stroller with an infant in it.

The block we were on was busy -- many people around, lots of cars driving by on the street. Dangerous for a lost little kid. Up ahead I saw a small crowd gathering just at the corner and that's when I saw the mom hug the little boy. She was talking to him and then stood up and held his hand as they walked to the dad and baby. And what she did next was a big learning moment for me.


She was calm. She knelt down next to him and explained how she was really worried and how it's important for him to stay very close to her side and not wander off. Never once did she raise her voice, she didn't jerk his arm around or show any kind of physical force, she was holding his hand and explaining. He was upset for having lost sight of his family. I heard him saying something like "I didn't know where you were." It seemed to be as frightening of an experience for him as it was for his family.

I thought she handled it so well. I have twins who are 2, and this could happen to me. It could happen to any of us. I'd like to think I would stay as calm as the mom I saw, but I can't say for sure as it hasn't happened yet. I hope I will. I feel like the child understood her, just like the mom understood him. They were both scared. They were both happy to have found each other. And while she was calm, she was firm but in a soft way, helping him understand the severity of the situation and how wandering off wasn't something that should be done. Still, in situations of stress, it's hard not to come unraveled. Yet this mom managed to keep her composure.

For that moment before she found him, I put myself in her shoes. I didn't judge her. I never once thought, Well she must be a bad mom who doesn't pay attention to her child and now he's lost. Though I'm sure some people would think that. Sometimes we see those horrible stories on the news of a child who went missing and so many of us are quick to say Where was the mother? Why wasn't she watching her kid? It's easy to say. I may have even been guilty of saying it in the past. It's the first thing most of us think of. But parents aren't perfect. We sometimes get distracted. Our eyes can't be glued to our child at every second of every day. Though we try and try and drink tons of coffee and pee with the door open and forgo showers just so we are there for our kids. We sacrifice, and we don't complain (much, and it's okay to let it out) because the reward is so great. And we make mistakes and we have to expect that our kids make mistakes, too. So we parent them. We parent them like this mom I saw did when her child ran off. We parent them with love. With understanding. We learn from other parents. And we are thankful for happy endings.

Would you have handled yourself the same way as the mom I mentioned?


Image via *clarity*/Flickr

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