Don't let that cute little face fool you. He's a rascal and gave me the scariest most heart-wrenching moment I have had as a mom. It was awful.
We all make mistakes. Sometimes we escape and nothing bad happens. Sometimes, a lapse in judgement, being too busy, getting distracted, or whatever it might be, leads to something horrific. I only write about this experience to maybe help someone else. To help someone else pay a little more attention to the important things, or to hug their babies a little tighter and not take a moment for granted.
The other night, the night before my birthday, I was feeding Beckham and spending some time on the computer and Toby started barking outside. He usually lets out a little bark or two when he's ready to come inside. He always goes to the kitchen door (in the back) and waits. Kaden came running in saying he was going to go let Toby in. Kaden and Matt had been cleaning up the train explosion in the living room; a daily occurrence and a nighty task. No more than three minutes after Kaden had gone to let Tobes in Matt came and said, "babe, is Kaden outside?" We looked around the house and realized he had gone outside, probably out the front door.
I went out and looked around the yard and couldn't find him. We have a little nature trail and hill behind our house so I figured he went on that. He was barefoot, which he usually is, so I figured he wouldn't wander very far. I went to the trail and started calling to him, heard nothing, and got a little irritated that I was being ignored. He's often oblivious when he is in his own little world, which is probably why he wandered off.
After looking for over 10 minutes I decided to hop in the car and drive around the subdivision, figuring he was lost and looking for home. Matt stayed behind with Beckham. It started getting dark and I started worrying. I couldn't find him anywhere. Kaden has only wandered off like this once before, and it was when Beckham was born and still in the hospital. Matt and his mom were unloading groceries and he disappeared. I freaked out that time, thinking about the very busy highway close by and the irrigation ditches throughout the neighborhood. This time I wasn't as concerned because now, he knows better. I was worried though and started feeling bad about not paying close enough attention. What was I doing? Checking facebook? Reading a blog? Who knows, but maybe I was too distracted.
As I drove around calling him, I prayed and prayed. I was feeling so frustrated that I was having no mother's intuition, no feelings as to where I should go, feeling comfortless and more worried by the moment. I just kept feeling, and saying, "I need help!" I ditched the car, called our dear friends who have rescued us countless times, and started out on foot. I called to him, but the busy street was so loud I heard nothing. By now, it had been at least 40 minutes, was totally dark, and I had been all over the place, in every direction. I called and called and finally faintly heard my little boy's hysterical cry. He seemed so far away, but I started running in that direction through an uneven field.
Finally, I found the little boy and my heart sank and I think I nearly died. He was across the busy highway, over half a mile from home, sitting in the grass not more than four feet from the street. Car after car sped by, going over 60 mph. He was so scared. I yelled for him to stay where he was, that I would come get him. I waited for cars to pass and ran over and scooped up the crying boy. He was freezing, he had wet his pants from being so scared, and his little feet were bleeding.
I cannot explain how awful I felt. I felt incredibly relieved that he was okay. I had every scenario running through my head as I looked for what seemed like an eternity. I felt horrible that my baby had been so scared, and I, his mother, was not there to comfort and protect him. I felt sad and guilty. I cried and cried as I carried him back to the car and as we drove home. I just had to say "I'm sorry" over and over.
When we got home he took a long, hot bath and Matt scrubbed him up. I called my mom and had a meltdown. After the bath we read stories, removed slivers and doctored up sore feet. Matt gave us both the most amazing blessings of comfort. I talked to Kaden about what had happened. My best guess is that he and Toby went up the hill by the house and when it got dark he went down a different way. He saw a house across the highway that had a big light on. He just kept saying that there was a scary owl and he was trying to get to "mommy's light". I wish he had seen our house and all of the lights we had on for him. It really hurt me, and still hurts me, to think about how scared he was.
I held him tight until he fell asleep. After I laid in my bed for over an hour, I went and scooped him up and brought him in to sleep with us. I didn't sleep much that night. I was overcome with gratitude that he was okay, and I couldn't help but think about what could have happened. Maybe I didn't do anything wrong, but I still felt so bad that I didn't find him sooner, that I didn't hear him go out the door. Matt felt like it was his fault since he had been cleaning up with him.
As I looked for Kaden for those endless minutes, I felt frustrated that I had no help. I kept praying, "please help me find him. Please keep him safe. Please inspire me to know where to look..." That night when I couldn't sleep, my feelings of frustration and almost anger, dissolved and I realized that we were helped. Kaden made it safely across that street. I did find him. I was the one who was there to pick him up and carry him home. Of all the places he could have gone, it could have taken me 5 times as long to find him. Somehow, I did hear his little cry from so far away, despite the traffic, crickets and frogs. I was helped more than I will probably ever realize and I couldn't be more grateful.
I was so overcome with fear and now with gratitude. My boy is safe. I know to be a little more careful, pay closer attention, and hug him a little tighter each night. (oh, lock the front door and get a darn fence!)