I have spent much of my life aware of my lack of emotional attachment. In reality, I was a terribly emotional and clingy child. But just like everyone else, there are events that change you in life. I can’t pinpoint what shut it down, or when it happened, but my detachment really peaked in my mid-twenties.
Enter motherhood. Nothing could have prepared me for the “feelings” that motherhood would bring to the surface of my being. It started in a hormonal way while I was pregnant, which is perfectly natural. But it is what happened post-pregnancy that has surprised me the most. The first six weeks postpartum are a grab-bag of emotions. Basically, on any day you will start crying at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason other than you become overwhelmed with the fact that you are a mother…I guess?? To this day, I couldn’t tell you why.
Flash forward to almost three years in. The things that get my emotions going are anything to do with parenthood. Today, I had one of those moments that I am certain pre-parenthood I wouldn’t have given much thought to after the fact. I was shopping at Lady Footlocker for a pair of running/exercise shoes because it has literally been like 10 years since I have bought a legit pair. There was a good amount of time that I was somewhat oblivious to the scene but after trying on some shoes with my back to the store, I turn around to see it is almost empty. The two store employees are standing there with a small family. An older woman is speaking Spanish to one of the employees and seems very distressed. Then a younger women comes in almost hysterical, speaking Spanish as well. They run out of the store. I get that something bad has happened but wonder if maybe her purse has gone missing, so I ask, “did they lose a purse or a person?” Apparently they lost her two-year old son in the mall. After seeing their faces, my heart sinks. I think of my own son, around the same age, off in another part of the mall with my husband.
I run out of the store because I don’t know what to do. But continuing to shop feels wrong. I call my husband. He found a lost boy in a store once. We both are keenly aware when we see unattended children. We figure if we can get to them first, some other creeper can’t in the meantime. But I digress. He is only a few stores away. I tell him the story and that if he sees a little boy, lead him back this way. One of the highlights of this story is how the customers in the store and even nearby banded together to look for this boy. They consoled his distraught family and ultimately, some girls from the store found him at the other end of the mall. For some reason this overwhelmed me. I started crying. For even that short amount of time, I couldn’t imagine how that must have felt. I saw myself in that mother and I had to do something because that is what any parent would want. Honestly, I thought the worst, which is that someone took him. I suppose my relief overcame me, when not only was he found but he has just wondered a little too far. I hugged her and told her how lucky she was!
I don’t know what my younger, childless would have done in the scenario. With any tragedy or sad story that involves children and families though, I hug my little a bit tighter. It can all be gone in the blink of an eye. Everyday that he us with is a gift and I have to recognize the big and small moments alike. I sit here, still emotionally shaken up because, while I relate because of the age proximity of our children, I couldn’t place myself in her shoes for one second without getting upset thinking about it.
That boy and his family will have a story to tell for a long time. And luckily for them, the story will have a happy ending.