Innocence Abducted: A Mother's Fear (EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK)
Being a parent means so much more than just being responsible. It means also being fearful.
When an editor asked me to write a column sharing how I felt about the attempted abduction of a Waukee fifth-grader a few weeks ago, without even thinking, I agreed.
But what he couldn't have possibly known when he made such an innocuous request was that he was asking me to write about one of things that scares me the most about being a parent -- losing a child.
I'm honestly not afraid of much. Never have been, really, until I had kids. Before that, I was totally fearless, sometimes recklessly so, not worrying about traveling without a companion or walking down a dark alley alone. I said hello to strangers, could strike up a conversation with just about anyone and was more than willing to seize the moment should an interesting opportunity come my way.
That all changed the day a doctor put that squirming pink bundle of baby in my arms and said, "Congratulations!" Without even a thought, I became fearful -- fearful of what she touched, what she ate, who she'd come in contact with and of the unknown. This world is full of unknowns and, as a parent, it's those types of things that will keep you up at night.
That's why a couple weeks ago, when a report about an attempted abduction in Waukee came across my desk, I panicked. An elementary-age girl was waiting for the school bus one morning just one day after the start of the new school year when a van pulled up nearby and an unknown person told her to get in the vehicle. The news person in me needed to get the details out, needed to let others know what was going on -- but I was paralyzed with fear.
I had just dropped my daughter off at school minutes earlier. In my head I started replaying our whole morning routine. Did I walk her to the door? Did I see her teacher? What was she wearing? Did she say good-bye? I wanted to call the school just to be sure she was there, to be sure she was alright.
Of course, I didn't. She was in class. She was safe. But the thing is, that's not always the case. Our children are not always where they're supposed to be. Our children are not always safe. But that's the risk you take when you become a parent.
I thought a lot about the parents of that little girl that week. I didn't know their names or the circumstances of that day. If I had to guess, I'd say their day started off a lot like mine. How it ended, well, thankfully she knew what to do. She ran home, she told an adult and she is safe.
Children are a gift, and we, as parents, are beyond blessed to have them. Unfortunately, there's something else that comes with being a parent and that's the gift of fear. Without it we become reckless, unconcerned and irresponsible. Personally, I'm OK being fearful. It means I love my children. It means I care, and that's something I think every parent can relate to.