Emily Forgotten – Time to slow down

slow parenting

This is a true story, written by one of the Brisbane Kids writers and a Brisbane Mum. This story has not been altered in anyway. Today was embarrassing.  I had a moment where time stopped.  I felt sick.  I became flushed and my heart raced.  Where was my child.  In the haste of rushing my older two into their classes, I turned to find my beautiful bouncing 3 year old with her deep blue eyes and her springy bob missing.  Not at my side and no where in sight.   What had I done!?

In my panic I ran straight to our school office.  Passing concerned parents along the way.  Rushing my Kindy boy, on his sluggish feet.  I burst into the office.   “I’ve lost my daughter.  She’s blonde.  Wearing a rainbow dress (I stayed up late sewing new lining in it last night I thought), and she’s gone!!” I wailed.   The office lady wrote my details and my description down and then phoned security.   Five more parents joined in the search of our school.  2500 pupils strong and spread over what seemed like an eternity of classrooms and play areas.

Another mother took my Kindy boy to his class and settled him in then continued on her search.   All the time I panicked.  “What if I never see her again?  There’s cameras.  They will have it on tape.  Someone will see.   But where would she go?  Will she hide?  Will she run?  Oh there is a big 4 lane street at the front of the school!”   And so I ran blindly and crazily.    My calls started to feel more like screams.   What had I done?!

And then my cell phone beeped.  Everyone looking had my number.  Thank god someone had found her I thought.  But no it was my mother in law.  “What time does swimming carnival start today?”   And then it hit me.    How stupid.  Oh my god how embarrassing.  How could I forget where my child, my precious beautiful baby girl was?!   She was at Grandmas.  I had dropped her before school.   Something I never ever do.    I never have “time”.   But this morning I had 10mins and dropped her in a wild race to school and swimming carnival.   I dropped and left and forgot!

So there was the embarrassing explanation.  The giggles of relief.   The laughs at how silly the situation and idea that one could simply forget their movements.   Forget where their child is.

“Don’t worry, we all do these crazy things.”  One mum cooed to me.  The Security Guard smiled “The main thing is she is safe.  Go have a cold drink.”

And so I laughed off my mistake.  My crazy wild frantic search.  I phoned my sister and told her I had just done the most embarrassing thing in my entire life.   And we laughed.   “It’s in the genes you know, we are all dippy!”   And there that matter sat.

Until  now.  4 hours later.  And now I feel sick.   Because my daughter is safe.  She is still with her Grandma having a treat at the shopping mall, oblivious to the fact that I simply – forgot!  And it’s not so much that I made this mistake.   It’s that recently a parent thought they had dropped their child to daycare.  Only they didn’t.  They too forgot.   But instead of an embarrassing event that may just follow me through my children’s school years, as the day I forgot my movements, no this poor family lost their child.   In the safety of their own car.   The child died because they forgot.

It is heart breaking to realise this.  Some poor Mother or Father out there has to live with this for the rest of their lives.  Not as embarrassment but as a daily torture.

I know why I did it.  I can’t speak for family’s who have made the same mistake with tragic outcomes.  I did it because I’m too busy.  I run late.  I have poor time management skills.  I do things that really don’t need to be done.   I stay up late making Christmas presents, lining my daughters favourite dress, booking holidays, catching up on work assignments I didn’t complete in my day.  I rush our mornings because I’m not as organised as I could be.   I drive to school thinking about the million and one jobs I would like to have done before the end of the day.   And a million distractions fill my mind.   And I forget.

So I’m sitting here taking some stock and trying to make sure I learn this precious lesson.   Slow down a bit.  Let go of some of the things you think are important, when really they simply are not.   Walk slower to class, hold their hands and don’t stress if you have to get a late slip.   Leave the dishes.   Leave the worry for another day.  Because the outcome could be much worse, than a simply embarrassing event.


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16 responses to “Emily Forgotten – Time to slow down”

  1. Rochelle says:

    Wow. I was even rushing reading this.. got to the last paragraph and realised how fast I was going. Thanks for sharing, it’s so so easy to get caught up with everything!
    I’m exactly the same in the morning! Time to slow down. Rochelle x

  2. Alex says:

    That got to me.

    I understand the fear and the pain but don’t judge yourself too harshly. If we over-analyse every parenting mistake we would be a quivering mess, unable to do anything.

    Your family is safe. This has a happy ending. That the single most important thing.

    (and the fact that you wrote about it so openly and honestly is commendable… it will help you as well)

  3. Gwendoline Mayers says:

    Did you tell your Husband and did he understand how busy things can get??

  4. Tina says:

    I get a fright every time I look back to check on my son and see an empty car seat – I remember in an instant where he is, but there is a quick jolt of “oh no, where is he” every time. I too have a million and one things running through my mind that are nowhere near as important as my son’s safety.

  5. Kerri says:

    Yesterday, I forgot to pick my son (grade 1) up from school. I had spent the day at my daughters Kindy doing staff reviews (I am the Vice President of the Kindy Committee) and at 2:50pm I looked at my watch and gasped “oh my god, I have forgotten to pick up my son!”. The panic and fear I felt was overwhelming. I raced for my phone and dialled a friend who picks up her son from the same class……he was fine and was waiting with her, they had only been out of class for a few minutes. Relief. Then the thought “what kind of mother forgets to pick up her child?”. A normal one apparently!! And also one who hadn’t eaten all day cause she was busy, and her brain was a bit frazzled. Thanks for your story, I can totally relate to the fear you felt….it’s sickening

  6. Katie says:

    Is the author of this American? If not, then when did Australians start calling mobile phones cell phones & shopping centres malls? I smell something fishy here….

  7. Linda says:

    Thank you so much for sharing…my life is crazy too and we try so hard to do everything….I think we all need to be reminded to slow down.

  8. Cheree says:

    Thank you for sharing your story….it’s a great wake-up call. Let’s all stop to smell the roses a little more often.

  9. Love, peace, best wishes. says:

    Love and peace
    Live and laugh
    Think and thrive
    Oh, and forgive.

  10. Annette says:

    This had me crying. Sitting here cuddling miss 21mths to sleep for her nap. I am always the parent that’s rushed/late/disorganized!! Partly because I’ve always been that sort of person and partly because I’m trying (and feeling like I’m failing all the time) to keep up with 5 kids and one on the way!!

  11. shylee says:

    thankyou for sharing this story in yes a way that is true to all of us busy mums and dads out there

  12. Lozza says:

    don’t feel too bad. i too forgot a child. my daughter was two weeks old when i walked with her in her pram to do some shopping at the local store parked the pram and picked up a few bits and pieces and headed home. i was met at the door by my brother, whose first words were ‘where is the baby’ to my constant shame and embarrassment my reply was ‘what baby?’ i had not only forgotten i’d left her at the store, i’d forgotten i’d even given birth to her. the fear and terror as i raced back to the store can’t be described. thankfully she was there, still sleeping peacefully, but it makes me shudder to think how very differently it could have ended. this happened 23 years ago, and it still makes me feel a bit ill when i remember it.

  13. lily kiwi says:

    ’tis the madness of our western lifestyles…. I’m so glad I learnt the lesson while living in the islands: slow down, don’t worry and be content.

  14. Tania says:

    That is an horrendous feeling when you think you’ve lost a child, thankfully we found our “hiding” child just before I picked up the phone to call the police. Our lifestyles are hectic, we have way to many distractions and then we top that off with unreasonable expectations of ourselves. Maybe we should all slow down and take time to smell the roses.

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