Sometimes any mom will do. I learned this unexpectedly a few years back, at one of my son’s soccer games. I had just taken my perch on my favorite top bleacher seat where I could lean back against the wall and relax for 45 minutes of uninterrupted thinking time when, of course, my thoughts were interrupted. There, at the bottom of the bleachers appeared a pony-tailed girl who looked to be about three years old. She stared intently up at me. “Hi, there!” I said. She immediately burst into tears.
“Did you fall down?” I asked her. The ponytails turned side to side to say no.
“Are you lost?” I said, already knowing the answer. The ponytails nodded slow and mournful and big tears rolled down her cheeks.
“Well, I said cheerfully, let’s go find Mommy!” It didn’t work. She was not fooled. This was panic time and she would not be persuaded to think otherwise just because I was so chipper.
“What’s your name?”
“What’s your mom’s name?” I asked and then answered my own question. “It’s Mommy of course isn’t it? I should have known that!”
I reached for her hand and then instead took her by her wrist. Hand holding is for Mommy, any ponytail knows that.
But as the two of us set off, my mind went it’s own way taking me on a strange out of body experience. I was suddenly another mom holding on to the tiny wrist of a mournful little baseball-capped boy.
The boy was my own John, about three years old. This fall he will walk into a new phase of his life entering college. But that day is as clear as if it was yesterday. It was a glorious warm spring day at our local zoo. We had taken baby Jake on an outing to see the animals, feed the goats, and have a picnic. I was finishing feeding Jake a jar of baby food and John wanted to walk on the rocks surrounding a flower garden while I cleaned up. He wasn’t more than 20 feet away from us. But when I turned around, he was gone.
I remember shouting for him and straining my eyes to pick out that little red Badger cap somewhere, anywhere around us. I ran to a concession stand to ask for help and someone used a radio to send out word of the lost boy. Seconds later the radio crackled back, “He’s right here, where can we meet?”
It was probably only five minutes, but relief was overwhelming. The little red hat appeared beside a uniformed zoo employee. He came racing to the arms of Mama, tears streaming for us both.
Now, years later, I was given the gift of being able to be the faceless Mom who’s grownup hand grabbed John’s little wrist and cheerfully said to him, “Let’s go find Mommy!”
As we walked I fought the urge to pick up the ponytails. I just kept bending down to ask her cheerful questions and scanning the crowded soccer facility for the eyes of a mom with a missing toddler. I knew I’d recognize those eyes. It wasn’t more than five minutes when I heard someone say, “There you are!”
And in an instant, the ponytails were on her shoulder, safe in Mommy’s arms.
We traded a rushed “Thanks!” And a “You bet!” Then we were all on our way. But it was a scene I re-played in my mind over and over as I sat back down on my top bleacher perch. All these years later I can now appreciate the other part of our day at the zoo. I’ve always remembered the heart pounding panic, the all-consuming joy, how it felt to squeeze John back in my arms and feel his wet tears on my neck, but never gave much thought to how he got there. Now, thanks to those little ponytails, I have a full appreciation of how, sometimes, any mom will do when you’re in a bind. And, someday, if you’re lucky, you’ll see how through your own eyes if you get the chance to re-pay the favor.
Pam Tauscher Coshun is a mom both at home and at work. She draws on her life experience as mom of two boys to produce and moderate the MomsEveryday show, a television program made by moms, for moms. You can see the show or read Pam’s blogs at MomsEveryday.com. Pam also loves gardening, cooking and hair, lots and lots of hair, since she currently has two dogs and a cat and has adopted may others. Pam is always looking to share ways to make Moms life easier at MomsEveryday.com, on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
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