…is losing my children. I’m not sure if I have anxiety because this happened to me when my oldest was around 3 or if it’s part of parenting. Sometimes the fear consumes me so much that I spend my time worrying where my kids are instead of enjoying the moment.
When we venture to a public place (especially if my husband isn’t with me) that’s crowded like an amusement park, museum or zoo I have horrible anxiety. No one would know because I hide it well.
A few weekends ago, I went to visit my girlfriend and we took our families to a water park. My husband couldn’t come because he had to work, so I went with the boys.
It was a busy Sunday with lots of kids and parents running and swimming….and water, lots and lots of water. I snapped a life jacket on my youngest and told both boys to stay together so I could see them.
Of course that never happens.
My oldest wanted to go down a big slide while my youngest was happy playing in the little pool. I stood in the middle constantly moving my eyes from one child to the next. I was watching my little guy slide down a cute little baby slide and turned to look at my oldest who was splashing away in the water.
When I looked back at my little one, I couldn’t see him. He was gone.
I started scanning the crowded pool looking for him. I was instantly brought back to the moment I lost my oldest and the fear ripped through my body.
I tried to remain calm and ran from one side of the pool to the other looking for him. I told a lifeguard and the teenager just looked at me blankly and said, “Ok” but didn’t move a muscle.
Again I realized in that moment of need and desperation, I was on my own.
My girlfriend was on the other side of the pool with her kids and my oldest, so I couldn’t reach her.
Thoughts started circling through my head…No one would take him without me knowing, right? He couldn’t have gone far. Why can’t I find him?
I wasn’t scared of him drowning because he had his life jacket on and the water was knee deep. I was more petrified of someone snatching him and never seeing him again.
Yes, panic set in and then a few moments later I saw him right in front of me swimming away and laughing. I literally felt the fear leave my body in one big wave.
My trembling arms picked him up and I didn’t want to let go.
Was I overreacting? Yes, probably.
Again, I’m not sure if I have this fear because I’ve been through this before. With my oldest, I couldn’t find him for at least 5 minutes at a local children’s museum. When I finally did, he was a few rooms over and to this day I’m still haunted by the look I saw in his eyes. It was the scariest moment of my life (and his) and I never (NEVER) want to go through that again.
So, yes I am a little more protective of my children and I do panic if I can’t see them.
It only happens when I’m in a really crowded place and I’m not sure how to overcome this. I have given my oldest a little more independence and as much as my little guy wants to be like his big brother, he’s just too young to be out of my sight. I do a good job of hiding my anxiety and my kids never see it. I’ll let them go off and play but inside I’m a mess.
Please tell me, is this part of parenting or do I have more anxiety because of what I’ve been through? Any advice on how to get through this?