To the mall

I took quick advantage of having a car again yesterday and took Caitlin to the mall to go to the play area. We’d never done this because of the fact that we’ve only gone to the mall on Saturday and Sunday nights and it was always filled with children who definitely exceed the 42″ maximum height and looked like they would eat her for breakfast along with their cocoa puffs. So we’ve always passed it up, while she stared longingly at the large foam tree and listened to the screeching laughter of the other monsters children. Guilt has always eaten me alive by this.

I made plans to take her there yesterday and after getting the three of us cleaned and ready, off we went, just us. Just me. And two kids. Under two.

After an uneventful lunch in which I accidentally ate a red bell pepper (yuck) and Caitlin stuffed a piece of her pizza up her nose, I nervously lead the way to the play area on the other side of the mall.

Here I am. In the mall. On my own. With two kids, under two, no security blanket, no company. Just me and my kids.

My heart started clenching up tighter and tighter as I parked the stroller and bent down to release Caitlin from shoes that prevented the fun that was to be had. Within 30 seconds I immediately wished I could turn around and pretend we had no intention on playing, but it was too late. Her shoes were off and she had already discovered one of the two slides.

As she played I could feel my anxiety rising in my chest and stomach bile make it’s way into my throat. My hands got that old familiar feeling that I can only describe as the way they would after having to handle the porn movies at the rental place I used to work at. Black and grimy like oil and dirt mixed together and no amount of rubbing them together makes them feel better.

I was terrified she would hurt herself. I was terrified she would hurt another child. I was terrified of hovering around her, while at the same time scared that if I let her play on her own (as all the parents there were doing), I would be seen as uncaring. I was just plain terrified. If she was out of sight for even a second, my eyes would dart around the enclosed space searching for the familiar brown head bobbing up and down. Even tho I knew it was impossible she escaped into the mall, I was terrified she would somehow slip past me while I looked down at Kinley.

I eyed all the other adults there suspiciously and tried to match them up with a kid or friend. If there was a person who didn’t seem to have a partner, I wouldn’t have hesitated to leave, because that’s just weird.

She ran around excitedly, taking turns and making friends. She didn’t have a care in the world. Occasionally, I would see her stop, lift her head and start calling for me. Once I would respond and we made eye contact, she would smile and wave as if to say “okay, just making sure you were here.”

It was an hour filled with fear and anxiety, not to mention a little sadness of watching her grow up. But it was so worth it. Every hard breathing second was worth it when I loaded her back into the car and she leaned forward for a kiss.

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2 Responses

  1. Oh, I’m so glad it went well!

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