“Where’s Jonathan?” I could not find my son in the sea of faces in the auditorium. Five different schools had sent bus loads of middle schoolers and some high schoolers to our small local college for a day of fun engineering challenges. It was the end of the day and all of the students and chaperones were gathering in the auditorium for awards.
“He’s here somewhere in the crowd” replied one teacher and the other chaperone nodded. I wasn’t certain that he was there because I could not put my eyes on him. I kept looking and then spied some of his friends in a row near me, so I asked them, “Do you know where Jonathan is?”
The friend looked around and then pointed, “I think he’s up there”. I followed the friend’s direction, but did not immediately see my son. Since the awards were about to begin, I settled in beside of another parent and tried to reassure myself that he was in the crowd and safe.
Earlier in the day, I had seen my son in various places around campus. At times he had been alone and a few other times he had been with a friend. Each time I had encouraged him to stay with his group. I emphasized that there were a lot of older students on campus and some adults and that he really needed to stay with the group. His teachers needed to know where he was, and it was his responsibility to stay with them. Jonathan was comfortable with the campus because he had been there many times with me since that is where I had worked for over two decades.
The awards began, and I got lost in cheering on the kids who were receiving recognition. Then, there was this, “And the award for bottle rockets goes to Jonathan Sullivan!”. Clapping, lots of clapping. No Jonathan. The speaker said again, “Jonathan? Come on up!” As the clapping faded and everyone started looking around, my eye caught his teacher’s eye. We both bolted from the auditorium as the speaker went on to the next award.
Where was Jonathan?My mama instinct had been spot on, and I leaped into action. I was talking to the security officers on my cell phone before I reached the outside of the auditorium. Three others had joined me in searching. I ran, yes, this mama RAN two buildings across campus to my office to see if he was there. No Jonathan. My brain was whirling with all of the potential places he could be. I was desperately trying to block the terrifying “what if” thoughts.
While others checked the student center game room and the site of the last events, I ran to the library. If he was anywhere on campus, he would likely be in his favorite spot in the children’s section of the library. He believed that I was the “best mom of the year” just for taking him there and letting him browse. As I bolted toward the library building, I tried to reassure myself that he knew his way around, and that he knew some of the staff. Surely he had not gone off with a stranger.
I stopped running and only walked fast through the library and back to the children’s section. There he was with a friend. They were laughing and thumbing through books. Each was totally lost in time and place. My relief washed over me quickly, and my frustration spilled out. “JONATHAN!” I was much louder than I should have been in a library. “Where are you supposed to be?”
“I dunno. Why?” he had no idea.
“You’re both supposed to be in the auditorium for awards. In fact, you just missed your name being called!” I shooed them off to the auditorium as I called security, his teacher, and others to let them know that he had been found. I was shaking my head at that son who loved books so much, and then it hit me. I ran! I had been running! It wasn’t far, but I RAN! I can’t run. I never had before. When my children were little, I worried about having them in a playground without a fence, because I could not run to catch them. That was when I was obese and had significant back pain. Today, after losing over 100 lbs (45 kg), I ran. I had needed to move quickly, and I could! I ran in professional clothes, and I did not have to stop and sit down to catch my breath.
When I went back into the auditorium, I was relieved that my son and his friend were okay. I was grateful that they had been safe and that they were enjoying themselves even though I was frustrated and embarrassed that he was ‘lost’. Among all of those emotions, I was also a little proud. I ran! When I thought my son needed me, I could be there. I ran! Instead of being the mom who couldn’t, I was the mom who could.People ask me, “Don’t you miss bread?” Unfortunately, bread made me obese. Bread contributed to the inflammation and pain in my back. Bread indirectly kept me from being the mom who could run after her kids even if they were in danger. No, friends, I don’t miss bread even a little.
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