About five years ago, my husband and I packed some blankets, folding chairs, and some snacks and headed off with our two children to a popular destination for avid kite flyers. The weather was perfect. The wind was strong, but the temperature was pleasant. We joined a caravan with other friends, who also wanted to spend a relaxing, breezy afternoon at the park.
Before going to the spot, we decided to have lunch at a nearby food court. As we waited for everyone to finish their meals, we spent the time chatting, laughing, and having a great time together. With camera in hand, I was snapping away, trying to capture all the memorable moments.
As I was about to press my finger to the shutter release to take my hundredth picture, one of the girls from our group tapped me on the shoulder. When I turned, she pointed in the direction of my 2-year-old daughter, who was being walked towards me by a not-so-happy-looking woman.
“Is this your daughter?” the woman said with raised eyebrows.
I felt hot inside, as I began to realize what had just occurred. “Yes, she’s my daughter.”
“I found her walking around by herself over there.” She pointed to an area around the corner from where we were sitting, a spot that was clearly way beyond my vantage point.
“Oh, thank you so much!” I said with relief, as I gave my daughter a tight hug.
But before I could continue my happy little reunion with my daughter, the woman looked at me sternly and said, “You need to keep an eye on her next time.”
At that moment, what else could I think? I was convinced that I was the worst mother on this planet. I’m so thankful to the woman, who noticed my little girl and took the initiative to find me. I don’t fault her for her last comment to me. It is true. I should’ve kept a close watch on her. I felt so comfortable in our surroundings, and our group was so large that I assumed my daughter would not wander off. It was a mistake I never wanted to make again.
But I had a choice to make. I could dwell on my act of carelessness and beat myself up to the point of never wanting to leave my house ever again. Or, I could rest in the sovereign hands of my God,
who saw my little girl wandering way when I was distracted,
who protected her from harm’s way when she went off by herself,
who put this woman in her path to bring her back to me,
who has forgiven me for this and so much more.
We have all made mistakes, and mothers can be the worst when it comes to moving on from those mistakes. My desire is that, by sharing my story, others who have felt paralyzed by their past can find hope to press on.
Note: This piece was inspired by Atlanta Mom of Three’s guest post and link-up of “No More Mommy Guilt”. Visit the original post to find other stories or to join the link-up.