For 22 months I was a mother of one. I quickly adjusted to knowing that where ever I went, whatever I did, I had a plus-one who was totally reliant on me.
I loved that role and I was excited for the plus-two to come along. I'd had time during those first 22 months of parenting to work out a system and I believed I was totally ready for the additional responsibility.
In fact, I was ready for that plus-two role. But I can't forget that for one brief moment in those early days home from the hospital when I forgot that two little people were entirely reliant on me.
I stress the words 'brief moment'. No child was harmed in this story, but the moment has stayed with me a lifetime.
As time has passed I have managed to see the funny side. I had a friend who had five children and I would often joke with her that I didn't know how she kept track of them all. I would always add "I forgot one when I only had two."
I also joke that the age gap between the second and third child in our family is significant because I needed to make sure I was capable of keeping track of three. Also I could rely on the older two to remind me if I happened to forget one.
Anyway back to the story about the child I forgot...for a brief moment.
I was getting ready to head out of the house one morning. I had carefully packed the baby bag with all that I would need for both children. Those two children were fed, dressed and ready to go. The baby was in capsule ready to be placed in the car.
I left her in the house while I went into the garage - in the next room - to load the car with all that was needed for the day and to buckle my toddler into his seat. I then hopped in the car...ready to drive off.
Fortunately I had a habit of double-checking everything, especially looking into the back seat to make sure the toddler was properly buckled. That is when I noticed the baby capsule was missing.
I quickly grabbed the newborn in the next room and placed them safely in the car. But the guilt from that momentary lapse of memory was huge.
The good news is that it never happened again.
However, that is not to say that my energetic children didn't keep me on my toes.
There were times as the children grew older and were moving around freely - not confined to capsules or prams - that I seriously felt like a sheepdog, constantly rounding them up and doing head counts.
This was especially the case when it came to shopping. The challenge became greater when it was no longer suitable to put them all in the trolley - and when two children became three children. For the record I have nothing but admiration for those who manage more than three.
It often seemed that while I was tending to the needs of one the others would strive to break away on their own independent adventure.
Fortunately, I recall only one occasion when it was my child who was the subject of a message over the loud speaker at the local supermarket reporting that a lost child was looking for their mum.
However, there was one occasion where the adventurous wanderings of one of my children left me panicking and prompting a full-scale alert. I was choosing clothes for one of the children when the youngest, who was about four at the time, decided to go for a wander.
All I can say is that toddlers can move fast. Within a matter of seconds she was no-where to be seen. Staff were asked to monitor the front of the store while the centre management of the shopping complex was alerted.
A frenzied search was done of the store and, as Murphy's Law would have it, she was in the last place we looked.
She was in a change room, doing poses in the mirror.
I have a few grey hairs that are specifically named after the would-be model. And of course this story never fails to be an entertaining childhood tale.
Of course these sorts of stories are always great when they have a happy ending. But even now - almost two decades later - I can still relate to that sense of fear that had me thinking the absolute worst for a short time. It is enough to make you want to invest in a child harness.
The best solution I came up with to avoid this ever happening again was to shop with one child at a time. However, we all know that is often not possible.
Mumma Jak has three children and is familiar with the challenges of parenthood. She is well aware that every child is different, every day can be different and a parent's approach needs to be different according to the situation at hand. She is happy to say she fumbled through, motivated from the perfect starting point - unconditional love. The good news is that all three of her children have become normal functioning adults.
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