Mother’s day is a time of mixed blessings, a day to celebrate being a mother, but it is also a day of renewal like New Year’s day. On this day, I pledge once again to be a better mother and not to lose the baby in the house…
I lost the baby in the house for a little while today. I wish I could say this was the first time.
I was at my desk completely absorbed in an article from CNN, the baby playing nearby on the floor. My friend from Peru called to say she had passed her citizenship test. I was jumping around and congratulating her. She was telling me how to make Peruvian yellow pepper sauce, and I started to unload the dishwasher. On the top rack, I saw the dog’s bowls and remembered they needed some food and water. I went out to the garage and filled both their dishes. While I was out there, I decided to check the mail. A neighbor drove by and stopped to say hello, commenting on the height of the Century plant in the front yard.
Back in the house, no crying anywhere, just the sounds of my other children playing in the backyard. Where’s the baby? I rush around to all the bathrooms. Maybe she is playing in toilet water, or worse she’s been swallowed up. I lift the closed lids. I check the pantry; she like’s to climb up on the bottom shelf.
I follow a trail of toys out of the office. Multicolored balls from her Playskool ball popper, a blue ring from her wooden stacker, and one of the twin dolls she likes to carry.
“Abbie, Abbie,” I call.
I remember other moments of forgetting the children. After our second son Michael was born I left him in the car. It was in the excitement of a real estate deal. We had put the house on the market and we had three offers in one day. I was still used to having only one child and afraid the deal might get away. I parked at the realtor’s office and ran in leaving the baby strapped in his car seat.
“Where’s your son,” the realtor asked.
“He’s at preschool,” I said.
“Don’t you have another son, a baby,” he said.
There are different ways for children to get lost. My daughter Madeline got lost in a maze of tunnels at a McDonald’s indoors playland. She’s up there somewhere on the higher levels, unable to find a way out.
“Mommy, mommy I can’t get down.”
I’m eight months pregnant, not sure I’ll fit. I burrow through the passages, my big belly dragging along the plastic walls.
“Mommy’s coming,” I yell.
But I’ve reached a dead end. I’m stuck squeezed in like an oversized sausage. A man is having lunch with his young son. He crawls up, dislodges me, and helps me turn around. A giant fat lady, I ride the slide down. I watch as a stranger sets my daughter to the ground.
After a few minutes of searching, I end up in the master bedroom. Abigail is fast asleep on the carpet, a little pink cell phone clutched in her tiny hand. She’s sleeping so peaceful, and I take a moment thankful the baby’s been found.
This Mother’s Day we will go out for brunch, the children will offer gifts, flowers, and freely given love. For the coming year, I will try to offer them a mother who is tuned in, more aware, and at the end of the day knows the whereabouts of all of her children.