I Almost Lost My Daughter…Again

If you’re a parent, you get this.

You’re somewhere with your super high-energy child who doesn’t stand in one place longer than you can blink your eyes, and then they’re somewhere else. It’s like Doctor Who’s weeping angels – you literally can’t blink or you will lose your kid. If you haven’t said, “I just looked away for a second!” then someone has said it to you. But this is not, of course, what happened to me.

Backstory: I’m currently unemployed and at home with my five-year-old daughter who, from dawn ‘til dusk, has the energy of a kitten on speed. I do not have this kind of energy. Not even close. I mean, I could lay in bed all day and not move unless I had to pee and be happy. So, picture a kitten on speed vs. a sleepy sloth mom and you’re close to understanding our relationship.

So, yesterday morning was typical. My thirteen-year-old left for school, my husband left for work, and my daughter began jumping around the kitchen like an automatic pogo stick. I sipped on my second cup of coffee, waiting for my eyelids to peel back and my brain fog to clear, trying to ignore the bouncing, giggling child in my periphery. Did I say I don’t do mornings?

She wanted to watch TV, but I had planned a movie in the afternoon, so she was forced to play with her toys instead. It went like this:

“I want you to play with me.”


“But I can’t play by myself.”


“Do you wanna play matching?”


“What do you wanna play?”

“I want to play drink my coffee in silence.”

“What’s silence?”

“It’s when you don’t talk.”

“That’s no fun.”

“I know.”

“So, do you wanna play matching?”


Eventually, she found something to do. I’m pretty sure it involved a pink foam sword, a sparkly tiara, and chasing the cat.

I nursed my coffee as long as I could, double-checked the movie time, made a grocery list, and decided it was time to shower. This is when I let my daughter know that she was now allowed to play on her tablet until I finished getting ready. Normal, right? I mean, how else would we shower or go to the bathroom or get half a second of free time to hide in the closet and practice our deep breathing exercises if not for technology?

Here, however, is where I went wrong. I was greedy. I took my time in the shower. I lathered, rinsed, AND repeated. I let the conditioner sit in my hair for almost two minutes. I sang not one or two, but three songs. And then, I had the audacity to dry my hair – all the way! I felt clean and calm and almost pleased with my appearance, even without makeup. For thirty seconds, I held onto this feeling. Thirty wonderful seconds. And then…

I called downstairs to my daughter, asking her to come up and get dressed.


I called again, louder.


I called a third time because I really didn’t want to go all the way downstairs just to find out she was too engrossed in her tablet to pay attention to me. I used her first and middle name.


I went downstairs. She was not on the red couch. She was not in her little pink chair. I went to look in the living room and saw the sliding glass door open. My heart dropped into my knees and I wobbled a bit walking across the kitchen. The gate off the back deck hung open. I felt the coffee swirling in my stomach, saliva filling my mouth as if I would vomit. There was a pond directly behind my house; she couldn’t swim; the geese were here in vicious packs with their sharp beaks and cruel honking. I yelled her name as loud as I could without cracking my voice, without sounding like I was being murdered or worse.

“What?” her little voice called back from behind the bushes between the deck and the pond. She actually sounded indignant!

“Come here right now! Come inside, now!” I felt the tears surging, my insides shaking. Fear and relief mixed into a cocktail of adrenaline unspent in either fight or flight.

She came inside, the footies of her Sophia the First pajamas covered in dirt and leaves. I closed the door and knelt down to look at her. She pulled back, afraid, but I asked her to come closer. When she did, I hugged her, trying to hide my tears in her tiny little shoulder. I muttered words about rules and outside and please, please don’t scare me again. Mommy was very scared. And when I looked up, she was close to tears, apologizing for my neglect, trying to soothe my fears. It only lasted a moment, and then we went upstairs to get dressed and all was right in our world again. The day went on. Life went on.

And here is where I’m supposed to make some big revelation, right? The ah-ha moment of a lesson learned. But I’m not going to do that. I still have to take a shower when my daughter is here, I still have to trust her for twenty minutes alone, and I don’t know another way to accomplish this than by doing what I’ve done before. Could I take her in the bathroom with me? Yes. Could I lock her in her room while I’m showering? Yes. But I truly believe that options like these would either drive me crazy or fuck up her psyche. I not willing to do either.

Worst parent of the year award? Probably not, but damned if it doesn’t feel like it.

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