In the time it took for me to put the video tape back onto the shelf, she had sprinted out of the room and around the corner, toward the doors. I dropped my bag on the floor and raced after her, catching the first automatically controlled door just as it was closing. I saw her, across the vestibule, press the button for the second door, the door to the outside.
And just like that, my two year old daughter was running away from me, down a ramp and toward the library parking lot.
My heart racing, I caught her mid-way down the ramp. I picked her up, pointed my finger and yelled into her face. My fear flipped to instant-anger and the smile that she often sports when being scolded froze and then faded. The two little kids in the vestibule scurried to the side as I went back into the library to get my bag.
My heart was still pounding and my breathing was a little ragged, as I picked up my things and walked back out, toward our car, neither of us talking. About halfway there, my anger flipped back to fear. She put her head on my shoulder and said, 'Sorry Mommy.'
I repeated my admonition about running away from me or going outside without me (in a calmer, friendlier voice.)
And then I cried my eyes out.
I don't know exactly what it was about the situation that had me so rattled. I've been extra weepy anyway but it was crazy how fast she was, how absolutely quiet the whole thing was (until I caught her, I mean.) It was sobering to think about how easily and thoroughly she could have disappeared when I had turned my back for a second. The knowledge that the moments that I would have spent looking for her inside would have been measured in distance covered outside, toward moving cars and who knows what else, leaves me cold even now.
I spend a little time these days wondering how in the hell I'm going to do it with two. Forget the pangs of longing and sadness that I feel because my little Houdini is used to having BOTH parents for a bedtime routine and pretty soon, her world is going to be rocked HARD by the demands of an infant. Forget the wondering how I'm ever going to be on time for anything ever again or how I'm going to handle sleep issues when I have more than one. I know that these are normal anxieties and that they will work themselves out.
But today scared me. You can't drop a newborn on the floor while you chase your toddler out of the building.
Today? Scared the shit out of me.