Flashback to last night. I had an unbelievable nightmare that truly horrified me. I woke up trembling and had to run into Niall's room, wake him up and just hold him.
Niall was riding one of those little toddler bikes; a three wheeler, low to the ground. Even though in real life, he can't efficiently maneuver one of those, he could in the dream. We were at a carnival and Niall was riding his bike right in front of me.
All of a sudden, he was pedaling faster and faster and I had to run to keep up with him. He turned a corner and when I ran around it after him, he was gone.
At first, I was confident I would find him. How could a less than 2 year old on a little bike disappear into thin air? I kept running, looking down every row of games and toys. But then I started to panic. More than 10 minutes had passed; I couldn't reason that he was just around the next corner anymore. I had no idea where he was.
I just kept running. I had to keep looking. I tore through toys and stuffed animals and costumes. I was screaming and asking everyone I passed if they had seen a little boy on a bike. At this point, I was completely frantic and defeated. I didn't think I would ever see Niall again. I really didn't.
I went back through the carnival the same way I came, still looking, hoping, but sure that I wouldn't find him. Just then, I saw his little face through a group of people sitting around him. 4 men had taken him. I just ran up and grabbed Niall out of their hands. His little nose was broken, bruises and scratches on his face, he was barely conscious.
And then I woke up. After I got through the shock of what my sick and twisted subconscious had just conjured up, I realized that the moral of this story is not that I should keep Niall locked in a bubble and never let any harm come his way, but that all I can do is be the best parent I can be, and hope and pray that everything will be ok.
There will be times when he is at a friend's house or on a field trip or playing in the woods and I won't be there. I can't keep him from doing all the fun things that kids do and I can't be a mom leech who never lets him do anything unless I'm holding his hand. Sometimes, you just have to let go and trust that everything will be ok. I think that might be the hardest part of being a parent, and it will take me a while to actually do it, but I'll get there.
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