I have been getting continuous lectures from my mom over the last several months. They are constant and it drives me crazy. Today, I’m thinking, she may have had a valid point after all. It was a scare that made me think long and hard about my approach. Let me see if I can explain.
- I am the assistant coach of the girls Varsity soccer team at the high school. We had a game today at 4.
- The kids were being picked up by Shad today and they were heading to the high school to watch the game.
- Shad was checking on one of the players he’s been working with.
- Reilly had soccer practice at six. His coach was sick and asked me if I could coach for the team tonight.
- I had left work a little early so I knew I had to get back to get to my work and I wasn’t the best option to help but I wanted to do what I could to help. His coach is a good friend and I know she is fighting a terrible stomach bug.
- Shad had planned to do his 90 minute workout which his coach had assigned to him (for his Ironman training) during Reilly’s practice and I would take the girls, and their friend Jenna, to the house for homework and dinner after my game.
- Reilly’s practice is from 6-8 and then he has his homework.
Okay, so, this is why today I thank God today.
Second half of the game had started, it was exciting, the score had gone from 0-0 to 0-1 (them) to 1-1. The intensity continued to pick-up in the game. Out of my peripheral vision, I see the truck rolled up next to the field and the 4 little kids in Catholic school uniforms rolled out. Reilly came right over and helped his buddy Noah be a ball-boy. The girls said hi and Shad went to check on the player because she was on the bench at the time. Shea and Kate said hi, but a bit cautiously, because they know I’m “working”. Shea came back over and said “I have to go to the bathroom so we are going to go at the middle school”. I looked around and it all seemed harmless and I said “okay, stay together and hurry up.” Off they went to the school they have been in so many times before. I thought nothing more of it – for a while.
It was nearing time for Shad to head to practice, I had volunteered him to coach until Russ or I could get there. He’s talking and I’m half talking back but really into the game. It’s still 1-1 but we have had chances and they have had counter attacks. It’s tense. Russ and I talk about who to sub and when, there are just a few minutes left. We agree on the final sub and she goes in, 3 minutes left, she scores!!! 2-1. Us. I hear my name, it’s Shad, I am only paying half attention to him because this is a huge win for us if we can hang on. He calls me again, about a minute left. I ask what and turn toward him. “The girls are missing. I went to the school, I checked the bathroom, they are not there.”
“What???” This makes no sense to me because they should have been back forever ago. I get this feeling, it’s time for me to ditch this game and look for them. As I jump over the fence, assuming now it must have been with a look of panic, a parent says “Betsy, what do you need?” I hear the final whistle blow, the girls won, I look back, they are ecstatic. I say to the parent “My girls are missing.” I continue to run away from the celebration. I don’t believe Shad, and I head to the bathroom, it’s just inside the door. When I get across the parking lot I see it. People lined up everywhere. I scan and realize it’s voting night. Strange people come out of the woodwork to “picket” for this but what is most notable is I don’t see any familiar faces. My stomach tightens again and I think “who the heck knows what kind of crazy is out tonight… This is not good'” I run past them all and into the school and my hunt begins.
Reilly and Noah are following me. I am running the halls yelling for Kate. The janitor sees me and let’s me know that he has heard about the missing girls and he is looking too. He tells me I can check upstairs. I had never given any thought to the middle school having an upstairs and I ask where the stairs are. The boys and I divide and go up opposite sides – yelling. I look everywhere. I see another janitor upstairs who opens the locked rooms for me. The library is dark and locked, I yell… nothing. I look under the stairs, in the bathrooms, everywhere. I am sick to my stomach not only because my two girls are missing but my friends daughter is with them. Three cute little girls in Catholic school uniforms. Ugh. My mind is racing with thoughts that are getting the best of my logic. I continue running, the janitors are looking, the gym is full of people voting. I guess that’s good for the town and state but I know I’m not voting tonight. After about 12 minutes the janitor downstairs yells and tells me they found them. He is on a radio.
Relieved. Mad. Relieved. Thankful. Relieved. Pissed. Relieved. I want to cry or maybe vomit.Something. I have NEVER experienced these feelings before.
I walk out and a Mom friend meets me and hugs me. “You are as white as a sheet she says.” “they went to the high school bathroom” (which is on the other side of the parking lot) I still feel sick. I don’t know what has been said to the girls but they are standing next to my car looking at me, nervously. Shad and I exchange a quick “they are safe…. good…. I have to go”. He’s got 30 little boys waiting for him to coach at yet another location. He leaves. I approach the girls sensing there are many eyes on me outside of the three little sets. I also know that most people, including the team, have NO idea any of this happened. (another thought that scares me, how invisible something like this can be to everyone, but that’s another thing) I get to the girls and I hear Kate blurt out, “I’m sorry.” In hindsight, this is a significant thing for Kate, apologies are not her thing, especially “look you in the eyes apologies” which is what this was. I got my calmness on and said “Girls, when you say you are going somewhere and we agree, you NEVER change your mind without talking to me about it.” Shea, nervous and scared still, gets defensive and says “We went there (pointing to the middle school) and it was closed.” I paused for a second and responded firmly “It’s not closed.” “There are about 200 people voting over there.”
She looked up at me with her big blue eyes which were wide open and said “But Mom, the bathroom was closed.” She waited a few seconds and said “there was a sign outside that said Over 18 Only“.
I was amazed. She was right. Voting…. 18…. I get it. I see the logic that landed them at the high school. I was not equipped to handle that response which I could not have predicted – even if I had time to consider the possibilities. It made total sense to me how it all happened.
It was an awakening I needed. Just typing this entry resurfaces all the feelings I had yesterday afternoon. I need to keep my eyes open wide and my priorities right. I need to stop overcommitting and focus on the things that matter most. It was a long day. I appreciate that it ended the way it did. I thank God that this is my life and I am constantly given second chances, and sometimes a third, to get things right.
As they would say in the social world right now #feeling blessed.