Over the weekend Sean and I went to the store with the girls to look at outdoor furniture. We browsed the aisles with Millie on my front in a ring-sling, Sean carried Livie in her car seat and Evie ran between the two of us. I knew better than to go into that store as we were getting closer and closer to Millie’s nap time, but we went anyway. After a relatively good shopping experience, Sean and I headed out of the store with a better idea of what we wanted to buy for outside our home this summer. I walked outside of the two automatic sliding doors to the beautiful sunny afternoon. Evie was with Sean about twenty feet behind me with Livie. Millie was starting to fuss and straighten her body, something baby wearer’s call “popping her seat”. This meant, I was distracted and focusing solely on Millie. I had no concern for Sean, Evie or Liv; I just assumed they were a few steps behind me. Just before I stepped off the sidewalk into the parking lot, I stopped to make sure the oncoming car saw me and stopped. A quick wave of the hand assured me that the car intended to let me cross first.
I’m not sure why but just as I finished crossing the car enough for him to take his foot off the brake and accelerate behind me, I stopped. I turned around and Evie was running to catch up to me. Sean, with Livie on his arm, had stopped in between the two automatic doors to look at a table he thought I would like. In the two seconds that he stopped, and the two seconds that I kept going; we both assumed the other had Evie. Had I not turned around, she would have run out right in front of that accelerating car.
I screamed at Sean. I screamed at Evie. The only person I was really screaming at was myself. In that situation I wanted to blame someone else.
Sean why weren’t you paying attention? Evie you know you shouldn’t run out into parking lots. Julie, why did you relax.
Life is fragile. Especially young lives, the lives who depend so much on us to make sure that they are safe. I’ve read so many stories about how children drown in pools surrounded by people. Kids are kidnapped at parks surrounded by adults. Horrible things happen every day, surrounded by good people. This moment happens to families all of the time. This moment could have been so much worse, and we are very fortunate it wasn’t. I’ll never know why I turned around like I did. I guess that’s the mother’s intuition that everyone talks about. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. That particular moment happened so fast. Sean and I spent the rest of the day on edge. We talked about better communication in the future, and how much it scared us both.
In recent months I’ve begun a search to find answers about a higher power. I didn’t grow up in a religious family and my parents stopped going to church when I was very young. I watched as other families had God on their sides and how he helped them get through the times that you can’t explain, just like this one. I’ve watched as people pray for others health, and heartache. I want to know what it is about praying that calms people the way it does. I want to understand how something you can’t see, or touch can hug you the way that God does for so many.
I can’t explain it, but when the man in that car pulled his foot off the gas pedal and slammed back down on the brake; when Evie wrapped her arms around my leg and my heart stopped; I thanked God. Thank you for not making this one of those moments that some other mom would read about.