Monday, January 31, 2011

On edge

The incident I'm going to blog about seemed to take place entirely within a moment, as if it were made of a series of factors stacked up high that came tumbling down all at once.

Picking up the pieces, I see that in that stack were items such as:
EGYPT. I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop watching it on Al Jazeera English. I can't stop obsessively reading tweets and FB posts about it. I keep worrying about what we would do if we were still there, even though we're not, and then worrying about our friends who ARE still there. My emotions swing wildly one direction and then another, from elation and excitement at the coming changes and wishing I could be there to see it all unfold, to horror at the violence and rioting and the deep feeling of insecurity that hits me every time I hear of another familiar landmark - a place I shopped, walked, went sight-seeing, or took my baby to when she needed help - being violated, trashed, and burned.

Then my mind races as I think of Syria and the protests that are supposedly going to take place there on Saturday. I don't think what has happened in Egypt could happen in Syria. Not now, at least. But I stress about it all the same.

Meanwhile, Jeremy was out of town recently and I was on my own with the girls, which never makes for a calm, rested mom.

And something else happened involving a member of the groundskeeping crew on campus, a problem I've been dealing with for a month or two now but which culminated in a scary incident on Wednesday that was thankfully addressed quickly and decisively by university officials on Thursday. When I feel like telling you about it, I will, I promise.

Anyway, all of this was piled up precariously high when the girls and I got home from Miriam's ballet lesson yesterday afternoon. As we walked in the house, there was some discussion of going to the park, and Magdalena asking to run ahead to the park by herself, and me saying no, but could she put away her sand toys on the front patio please? And Miriam, hurry up and change if you want to go to the park, and let me empty the dishwasher while you're changing and your shirt is on backwards, can you fix it please? Grab a water bottle, check to see if I have any emails, close the front door, which was open, no need to let sand blow in.

You know how it goes - a million things going on and all at once it hit me that it was very quiet. Where was Magdalena? I had asked her - wasn't it just a few minutes before? - if she'd put away her sand toys and she'd said yes. I thought her voice had been coming from inside the house. Hadn't it? I called and called for her. No answer.

My pile of worries came crashing down. My heart was sinking in my chest even as I decided it was possible she had fallen asleep somewhere in the house. She'd only had a 15-minute nap, in the car, earlier that day, so she was very tired. That happened to some friends of ours in American Fork - their 2-year-old fell asleep behind the couch and they looked for her for two hours and even called the police before they found her. I looked everywhere, though, and Magdalena was missing.

I ran outside, looked down our street, didn't see her, and came back inside to call a neighbor to come over and stay with Miriam while I looked for Magdalena. I hung up the phone and ran outside to meet my friend and start looking for my daughter.

Of course, that's when I turned the corner at the end of our street and saw Magdalena happily picking up rocks and stacking them in a pile. She was just down the lane, but entirely out of my sight, and she had no idea how worried I was. Is there a stranger mix of anger and relief and love and frustration than when you've found your missing child? My neighbor showed up just then and as I held Magdalena in my arms we all had a little chat about not wandering off by our 2-year-old selves.

Like I said, this seemed to happen all in one moment. In reality, she was missing for maybe eight minutes (not an unreasonable estimate, judging from the size of the rock pile she'd amassed), and I was definitively aware of her absence for probably two minutes.

Tonight I think I'll unplug from Twitter, FB, and AJE a good hour or two before bedtime. If I'm lucky, the last episode of Downton Abbey will be available from iTunes. After that, I think a good night's rest would go a long way toward rehabilitating me into a better mom who can keep track of her own children.


Liz Johnson said...

OH MAN that is so terrifying. I would have been in tears. I'm so glad you found her and that everything turned out fine. Ugh!

Nancy said...

I am so glad you found her!

We lost my brother once when he was two—he had also fallen asleep behind the couch. Kids can be so funny!

What a stressful week!

Cait said...

I have been the same way about Egypt, we streamed Al-Jazeera for hours yesterday. Didn't make for the most relaxing Sunday afternoon.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

There probably aren't any parents who have not lost a child, even for a few minutes. It's a terrible experience, even if it's not your child. Like the time your cousin Jason disappeared at Yellowstone, for almost an hour. One of my sisters disappeared on a crowded beach and the other one fell asleep between the bed and the wall so the whole neighborhood was out looking for several hours.

Your disappearance at about 18 months old was not the typical 'heart-in-your-mouth' experience. We didn't even know you were missing until a stranger brought you to the front door; he had seen you near the busy road 3 houses down. You had somehow squeezed out the back gate. After he delivered you I was shaking thinking of what could have been.

And oh yeah--your disappearance at Latourell Falls--almost an hour--2 strangers found you. We weren't negligent parents, really!

Katie said...

So glad to hear this all ended well. But I totally hear you about feeling panicked and terrified.

And I just want to add that I don't think you're a bad parent. I think even really good moms, like you, have kids wander off from time to time at no fault of their own.

Susanne said...

Aw, hugs! I remember a time or two when Michael ran off from me in a store because he found it fun for Susie to chase him. But when I couldn't see him, I felt a bit scared that someone would snatch him. Glad your little one was OK.

And, yeah, I bet you really ARE fascinated with all that is going on in the Middle East now! :)

Merkley Jiating said...

That is so scary. I would have been freaking out but it sounds like you were still pretty relaxed. At least you weren't hyperventilating or anything.

Linda said...

I think you did very well...especially since so much is on your mind and heart right now. So glad you found her enjoying herself.
I would think every mom has their share of those moments, even if its in the house or church or neighborhood..its a TERRIBLE feeling till the little one is found and in our arms again.
( I am loving Downton Abby and am happy they are continuing! The last one was frustrating in OH SO MANY WAYS, though. Be prepared. )

Sarah Familia said...

We spent a solid four days between Twitter and Al-Jazeera in between packing to move to Tunisia the week the government fell. And now we're glued to the news again with Egypt.

I am also waiting even more anxiously for Saturday in Syria and what it will bring. I see the joy and optimism of people here in Tunisia, and I hope so much that the same thing could happen in Syria. But at the same time, I'm terrified of the other possibilities. There is something so deeply personal about having lived somewhere that makes once remote news about faraway places all of a sudden belong to you in a way that pulls your heart to pieces.


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