T.D.P.M. (That Dreadful Parental Moment)

Every parent will be able to relate to what I’m about to recount.

T.D.P.M. That Dreadful Parental Moment.

It occurs without warning, in a multitude of situations, and always brings with it utter and complete dread. This moment takes on many forms. It’s that split second when you lose sight of your child in a park, or when for a moment you believe they are actually choking.  It’s the time they have a REALLY bad fall that looks and sounds worse than ever before. Perhaps it’s when you’re waiting for a doctor to call with test results. As parents, we’ve experienced, heard about and imagined a variety of these scenarios- the ones which raise the hairs on the back of your neck and make the pit in your stomach unbearable.

For me, one such moment occurred last night and continues to haunt me. On our walk home from a full day of activities, my daughters were hyper when they should have been exhausted. The sidewalks were busy and it was getting dark. They were with their buddies and running ahead while my mom-friend and I chatted. My little one, who is five, was trying her best to keep up with her older sister and running really fast.

We are a city family. We walk everywhere, every day. My kids are experts on the rules of the street. They know to stop well before the curb. They know that under no circumstances are they to cross a street without holding a grownup’s hand. And they certainly know to look both ways and to always wait for the light.  And yet, last night, my baby forgot all the rules and, before my very eyes, DARTED across the street without me, without looking, without anything to save her but the grace of God and the fact that she happened to have the light.

My life stopped short as I watched, frozen. Her curls billowed in the wind as she ran and everything stopped making sense. My scream was loud and scary. It shocked her to immediate tears. But she was fine.  She was safe. She made it to the other side and was OK. I, on the other hand, was not. In mere seconds everything changed. I was paralyzed, imagining what could have happened had a cab turned at that moment, or had she run against the light. It’s been well over 24 hours and my mind keeps replaying the scene. I can’t stop the ‘what if’ scenarios. I can’t help but imagine the devastation that could have been my reality. I know that with time, this will become a memory that I will try my best to suppress… but for now it’s too real and too present.

The truth is, as parents, we try our very best to always keep our kids safe. It’s dreadful moments like this that make you realize that all it takes is a millisecond for life as you know it to fall apart. The possibility of it happens to everyone at some time or other and it’s awful every time. But after it’s over, you have to decide what to do. Do you allow yourself to become consumed with it and live in fear? Or do you force yourself to accept that as terrifying as that moment was, it passed and fortunately, you’re able to continue with some added vigilance?

I’m realistic. I know that just as this was not the first Dreadful Moment I’ve experienced as a parent, unfortunately, it also won’t be my last. That thought alone can be terrifying. Yet, I refuse to become the crazy helicopter parent who is scared of the world and the potential tragedies that can occur. I choose instead to move on and continue to learn and do my very best to keep my children safe.

Having said that, you can be sure as hell that the ‘sidewalk racing’ days for my daughters ended last night. I’m perfectly fine admitting that for the foreseeable future, when it comes to crossing streets, I will be that crazy parent.

Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer.

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