Yesterday I walked from my kitchen to the hall and saw the front door lying wide open. Full panic mode swept over me, my heart racing, fear and dread taking my breath away.
It lasted but a second before I remembered I am no longer a mother to young children who might escape. I have no crazy dogs to chase after.
It took a sitdown and a cup of tea to fully recover and, as I sat, memories of open doors flooded back.
My mind wandered to a time when my eldest two children were aged four and one year, and I minded two sisters of a similar age. At close to a year, the youngest two were not yet walking.
I remembered one rainy afternoon carrying them in from the car imagining how easy life would be when they could both walk.
Months later they were walking, but all was not as I’d imagined. Instead of following me like ducklings after mother duck, they would take off at speed always in different directions. Once inside the house, their mission in life was to escape.
On permanent alert, I became obsessed with checking the front door was locked. Unfortunately, I’m far from perfect and on occasions slipped up.
One of the most memorable being an evening mid summer when I thought my charges were happily playing dress up.
Minutes before their mother was due, I came into the hall to discover the front door wide open. Checking the playroom I found the two littlest, then two years old, were missing.
I charged out to the road in time to spot them making their escape decked out in high heels, swinging handbags and dripping in jewellery. The sickening part was the driver of the car crawling behind them, hazards flashing, was the mum of one of the escapees.
Weeks later, the same two disappeared, but this time the front door was locked. I ran up and downstairs calling them, searched behind curtains, in cupboards and under beds. Their siblings joined in, but no luck.
Could they possibly have escaped and closed the door behind them? Thankfully not — the road was clear.
Sitting head in hands, I wondered if a prayer to St Anthony would be appropriate? I’d never heard of anyone using him to find children but I was desperate.
Perhaps to this day I owe him money because almost immediately after I thought of him I heard a giggle from our new dresser. “Surprise!” they shouted when I opened the doors.
As the years passed two more children and dogs joined the chaos. Two lunatic dogs who, not unlike the little ones a few years earlier, had only escape on their minds.
Policing a front door with six children coming and going was not possible, and many’s the day those dogs took off.
“Get in the car, the dogs are gone”, I’d roar.
Strapping the six children into seats and car seats I’d rage, “when I find them they’re going straight to the cats and dogs home”.
As the gang wailed and begged me to hurry in case they were killed on the road, I’d assure them that when I saw the dogs I’d run them over myself.
Of course, I never did and both dogs lived long lives despite open doors and threats.
As the memories began to fade, I laughed aloud at the young mother I used to be, who thought life would be so easy once her children learned to walk in the direction she pointed them.
That was over 20 years ago. Today my ‘little ones’ are well on their way to adulthood.
I’ve watched them race through many open doors since and life has taught me ... they always go in their own direction.
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