An entire life can change in the blink of an eye. This is ever more true when you become a parent.
I remember one day when I was pregnant with our first child. I was grocery shopping. While I was leaning over a display case to check out the produce someone took my cart. I was right there when it happened, my cart directly at my elbow, and I never even noticed someone near me. And I surely never noticed my cart being rolled away! As it turns out there was little in the cart which mattered. My wallet and car keys were in my pockets. My coat still in my car. It was really no more than an annoyance and inconvenience. Sure, I would need to get another cart and revisit the aisles I had already shopped (without my list and coupons which were in the old cart) but that was all. Or should have been all. Only, it wasn’t.
Throughout the rest of the shopping trip and the remainder of the day I was unable to shake the terror I had felt since the jolt of discovering the missing cart. What if this had been after our child had been born? What if, instead of an envelope of coupons, my sleeping child had been in the basket of that cart? What if I still hadn’t noticed the cart being rolled away? Although I still had a few more weeks before our due date I had just experienced my first parental moment. I had a glimpse of the type of diligence and awareness parenting takes. I finally understood what a good friend had told me a few days earlier. “Enjoy yourself,” she said. “These are the last few weeks during which you will always know where your child is.”
The world blinked at me again this week when I experienced another missing child moment (fortunately again with a happy ending). I received a phone call from the after-school program my 8-year old attends. She hadn’t arrive at the school. She hadn’t arrived home. For ten full minutes our child was missing. We had no idea where she was. I called her school. I called her teacher. I wasn’t sure where else to turn when the phone rang again. It was my daughter, clearly upset but okay. She had forgotten to get off the bus at her stop. When she realized her mistake she spoke to the bus driver. He let her use his phone to call me and offered to bring her back to her stop after he had finished his route. I was so grateful! It was another fifteen minutes before that kind bus driver returned her to me and another few hours before my heart rate returned to normal.
The blink of an eye is all it takes for everything to change.