The baby (Marissa, our fourth) is sleeping and our “middles” are playing quietly. As a part time work from home mom, I should take advantage of the moment by checking emails and returning voice mails. However, unlike the Hollywood version of mommydom, I am unkempt, unclean, and unprepared for working regardless of the fact that it is midmorning. I retreat to the shower and Gabriel, almost two, follows me as usual. Frustration bubbles up as I try to get him to leave the shower curtain closed. I just don’t find “I see mommy’s butt” funny today! Gabriel finally runs off to play. I begin to pray as I wash my hair. There is nothing eloquent about it, but I use the quiet moment to think of my children and my husband at work asking God to watch over him. While I feel it’s selfish to do linger, I stay a few moments longer enjoying the silence.
As I dry off, I realize it seems too quiet. “Kiona, where is Gabriel?” I ask while I walk through the main floor. When her answer is that she doesn’t know, I quickly reply, “What do you mean you don’t know! The back door is wide open and you don’t know where your brother is?!” I am not exactly the picture of parental patience standing in my towel, screaming at my daughter about the whereabouts of a two year old.
I begin shouting for him, dart through the house, no toddler. I dash to throw on some clothes. I yell “STAY IN THE HOUSE!” as I run out the door. A search of the yard turns up no Gabriel. Back in the house, he isn’t in the closets, the basement. I grab the phone and head back outside. He is not in the garage, the sandbox, the suburban!
A moment later, I am screaming at the 9-1-1 dispatcher that I cannot find my two year old and the thought pierces my brain “People do not find their missing children—not alive anyway” It stops me in my tracks. The dispatcher says an officer is on the way. A call to my husband and my father-in-law sends them speeding in the direction of our house
I pound on the neighbor’s door and she runs one way while I run around the block in the other direction. There is a garbage man who has not seen him. One officer has now searched the house to no avail. As I come around the corner approaching an awaiting officer, my shower prayers are far from my mind. “God Help” is about all I can spit out. Mostly, I am hyperventilating, sobbing, and trying to quiet the voice saying, “People with missing children do find them alive.”
An officer in his vehicle rounds the corner and stops me, looking for the details again. I answer the officer’s questions, telling him what Gabriel was wearing, how long I was in the shower. Forty minutes ago was the last time I saw my son. This is spoken with sobs in between words. “Wait,” he says, and I hold my breath. A call on the radio says someone has spotted him. A woman has him in her car about a block from our house. That’s all I need. I begin sprinting toward him and snatch him up a moment later. He looks at me, startled, and says “mommy?”
An hour later, I melt into my husband’s arms after telling him about my prayer in the shower. I say you won’t believe what I said while I was in there… I was praying and for some reason, I said something I’ve never said before. I said, thinking of all of my children, “God, thank you that you protect them to the point that it could save their lives.” I am humbled there, clinging to my husband thinking about the job of parenting these four kids. I’ve been given a task to be a parent and while I fail at perfection every day, I’m learning that the One who gave the task is also my Helper in my time of need. For that, and for Gabriel, I’m very thankful.