Last Saturday morning was not progressing as I had expected. My dear grandmother was very ill and the family was gathering to visit her. My plans would need to be changed. As I hurried to the shower, I reviewed my day’s commitments. Since Doug was leading a men and boys’ trip to St. Louis, not as many of my 10 children would be in my care. Still my schedule looked over-packed. I would need to hurry my household along if I was to pick up my grandbaby (whom I was babysitting), get everyone dressed and fed, make it to church in time for the kid’s camp I was helping with, and show appropriate attention to my family gathering to visit my grandma.
My mind was preoccupied with childhood reflections as I headed the kids toward the car. Kalyn had already departed with the older children who were helping with the camp, so I was rather surprised to only have two children left to pack into the car. “Hurry up! We are already running late!” I shouted down the hallway. I am not sure what I thought my 7 year old and 3 year old were going to do with that data. My aimless words did not fix the fact that we had a missing shoe and a missing car seat. Oh well, people would surely understand why I was late, I reasoned.
I picked up the grandbaby and arrived at the camp about 9:15 am. 15 minutes late. Not too bad, considering. The camp proceeded smoothly with our rather short staff. I was the substitute small group leader for the 10:40 a.m. slot. After I received my instructions, I waited for my kids to arrive at my table. Sweet little group, I mused. At 10:35 I placed myself in the back of the room getting ready to receive my kids. I mentally figured which ones would be mine. Let’s see, Josiah (our 3 year old) must be in the youngest group over there. Lydia, 7, would be in that group over there. And I guess Ethan, my 9 year old…..Ethan…Ethan? Where is Ethan anyway?
A rock hit the pit of my stomach. My mind flashed back through the facts. Doug had departed on his trip at 5:30 a.m. All the teenage and pre-teen boys went with him. But Ethan is not a pre-teen. He is a little boy who wants to be as big as his brothers. Maybe he had made a last minute successful appeal to go to St. Louis. As my mind was reasoning my legs began moving toward the door. I grabbed my phone and instinctively dialed Doug’s number. “Honey, I know this is a rather alarming question for someone who has been gone for 5 hours, but .. do you have Ethan?” I hesitantly asked. His response sent my heart down to the floor. “Well, NO!” he retorted. My pace picked up to a run as I flew out the back door of the church. My small group would need to find a new leader. My son was missing!
The 10 minute trip across town seemed so long. I kept hitting the redial on the phone. No answer at the house. Well, that is probably good, I thought. He is probably still asleep. But Ethan never sleeps that long, I remembered. And in one instant an adrenaline rush hit me as the imaginations started taking over my mind. What if he has been crying for me, and he somehow was unable to call? What if he is sick? His bedroom is way down in the basement. I had not even seen him all morning! It was my own version of Home Alone.
I always was nervous about him being that far away from our room. What if he sleepwalked? What if he got out the back door? He might even be heading for the pool! Oh God save my son, I began to cry! And what if somebody finds out that I forgot my own son? Irresponsible. Negligent. Bad mother. Horrible parenting skills. I was in rough shape as I hit the redial again. This time a little cheerful voice answered, “Hello!”
It was my son!! He is alive! I nearly burst into tears of relief. I consciously calmed myself down and lowered my voice figuring there was no need to alarm the boy or make him think his own mother didn’t remember him.
“Where are you at, Mom?” he asked. It seemed a fair question.
“On my way home, Ethan. I’ll be there in just a minute!”
The rest of the story was pretty tame. Ethan had never looked at a clock. He thought it was so early that no one was awake yet and that was why the house was so still!
My heart rate slowly returned to normal. Crisis averted again! And suddenly I was overwhelmed with gratitude. God, this job of being a parent is SO big and, Lord, I seem so small! Even when I think I am trying hard, I seem to make the craziest errors. Thank you for delivering me out of my mess…again. And thank You for giving Your angels charge over my kids even when I fail in my charge. (Psalm 91)
And so I get another lesson in humility. And trust. Maybe, God, by the time I get all these kids grown up I will get some more kinks out of my systems. But if not, Lord, would You send an extra measure of Your grace my way to make up for my goofs? Thanks. Your Daughter, Lisa.