Yesterday I had perhaps the scariest moment of my parenting career thus far. I can't even tell you how scared I was... But first, let me back up and give you some background.
Last Friday the 5th of November I had an appointment to take my kids to get professional pictures done. We were going to do their Holiday shots and also get some of just The Girl for her 18 month shots. My mom always goes with me on these things to help out so that was the plan. My mom called me at 8:00 that morning to tell me she had food poisoning and would (obviously) not be joining me. I was a little stressed out about doing it all on my own, but it went really well. In fact, after the pictures were taken I was going to write a blog post about "Tips for surviving Professional Pictures with your kids," and talk about my tips. First, schedule as early in the day as possible to avoid delays, second bring snacks and books, third bring toys that your kids are familiar with to use in the pictures (they are so much better than the props they give you that your kids have never seen before...)...I could go on. I never got around to writing that post (shocker, I know), but the point of this is that it all went really well. We got some great pictures and I left there proud of myself for doing it all on my own and I even managed to take the two kids out to lunch by myself after the pictures. So it went great. In fact, I got those pictures back yesterday and here are a couple of shots. They are adorable...
So anyway, that was last week. So THIS Friday we had another appointment at the same place with all of the cousins to try and get a picture of all 7 grandchildren to give to the parental units for Christmas. The age ranges of the kids goes from 7 as the oldest all the way down to 5 months as the youngest. I knew going into it that The Girl was going to be our difficult child to deal with. The baby (5 months) can pretty much just be propped up somewhere, and the child that is older than The Girl is almost 4 so all of those kids can just be told where to sit and they will stay. So my daughter was the wild card. I knew that going in. And she had had a ROUGH day. One of those days where they just don't want anything you offer them and the entire world seems to be conspiring against them. You know the days...we've all had them. So that was how we went into the pictures.
Also, even though The Girl is a complete ham and a crazy child, she is uncharacteristically shy when she gets somewhere. Even though she sees her cousins all the time, whenever we get somewhere with them she spends the first half an hour glued to my side until she warms up a little. So I knew that getting to the picture place with all those people and being rushed into a room and telling her to sit down away from me out of the blue was going to be a challenge.
It was more than a challenge. She threw a freaking colossal fit. I am not kidding. She screamed NO!!!! at the top of her lungs and threw herself on the floor kicking and screaming and throwing the biggest tantrum you have ever seen. The photographer actually even snapped a picture of it (which I am glad she did; it's hysterical and I bought a copy) with 6 kids posed perfectly and my daughter strewn across the floor screaming bloody murder and my son sitting above her with his hands over his ears because she was screaming so loud. It was quite a moment.
So we took her away and let the other families do some family shots with her watching hoping it would "warm her up" to the camera. Nope. Not so much. She still refused. After 40 MINUTES!! (that is NOT an exaggeration) we got her to sit on a stool next to her brother by bribing her with Pirates Booty. So in the pictures we ended up with, my daughter is sitting there with a zip lock bag of "popcorn" in her lap and her face stuffed full of the stuff and the powdery stuff all over her face mixed with snot and tears and her cute brown dress covered in "popcorn dust." Charming. But at least she was IN the picture. We weren't even sure if we would get that far. But needless to say I was glad I hadn't posted a blog post talking about how to conquer professional pictures because that day? That day was a huge failure. Huge.
So at that point it had been a REALLY long day with my daughter. I was stressed and tired and to be quite frank, really over it. I just wanted to get home and have a glass of wine (or 12). So then we were waiting for quite a while for them to process the pics and show them to us and the kids were all running around being crazy and eating snacks and reading the books I had brought (see back when I thought I knew how to get through this type of thing; I had packed well). My daughter was playing with all of her cousins and watching TV on her iPod and doing her thing. I was watching her like usual and also looking at the pictures they had managed to capture. I checked on her and saw her sitting on the floor with the iPod and went back to the pictures and not 30 seconds later, seriously, I looked back for her and she was gone.
I said "Where's [her name]?" very casually while looking in the other studios and around the room where we were, and then "WHERE'S [GIRL]?!?!" with more urgency in my voice and when I still didn't see her I screamed, "I'm serious you guys! [She's] missing!!" This is one of those portrait studios in a bigger department store so the portrait studio opens up to the entire store. I looked and there were rows of clothes and sheets and crap everywhere. She could be ANYWHERE!! I freaked. We all scattered, including all the other kids until one of the other parents realized that wasn't the best idea and rounded up all the kids and stayed at the studio with them while my sister, my sister in law, and the photographer started running frantically around the store screaming her name.
My heart was pounding so loud you guys. She wasn't anywhere. It was all a blur. I was just looking down all these rows of clothes and racks and stuff and she wasn't there. Ever. She wasn't ever there. I was just about to run up to a checkout desk and tell them they needed to make an announcement about a lost child when I heard, "Kim, we found her!" and I ran back to see the photographer carrying my child back to the portrait studio. She set her down and she casually strolls up to me saying, "I wanna see Mommy..." I grabbed her and hugged her and then threw her in her stroller and put the 5 point harness straps on her and sat down and burst into tears. Holy crap. She had been way over by the escalator and the front door! The front freaking door you guys. And the escalator. Holy shit. She was probably missing a total of about 5 minutes but it was the longest 5 minutes of my entire life.
Somehow I managed to keep it together and we picked pictures paid and got out of there. I got home and The Ex took The Boy for the night and after I put The Girl to bed it all hit me. I just lost it. I cried for a good 5 minutes. That entire day was SUCH crap with her. From the temper tantrums in the morning for not sharing with her brother, to her fit getting into the car because she didn't want a jacket on, and then she DID want the jacket on, and then NO! NO! NO! not the jacket!! And then ruining the group picture for everyone and then freaking RUNNING AWAY!!!, it was all just too much.
And then, finally, at 8:30pm...I had my glass of wine. And then another one. And then half another one which I couldn't finish because I got so tired I simply had to go to bed.