There was a time back in the day when the kids were little and I would desperately search for ways to get out and do normal mommy things. This usually entailed dragging along the youngins‘ and risking public humiliation.

For whatever reason, the mall seemed like the safest place to go. All the hoopla required in dressing, loading, and equipping the gang for the excursion, however, left little energy for what would invariably come next.  Two of my kids would always race ahead, two dawdled behind, and one was thankfully locked inside the stroller. I often felt like a wrangler herding cattle hollering as we strolled along, “slow down, get back here, catch up, where ya going?” The only thing missing was a little dog running around, rounding up strays. My little buckaroos saw the mall stretch out before them, and they wanted to run free.

Some of the following “mall moments” will give you a tiny peek into my world.

Just after “number two” was born, I remember wanting to re-enter civilization and show him off. I wore a beautiful white skirt and held my wee tot as I walked along, smiling happily at everyone.  I began to notice folks looking at me in a rather peculiar way. Peering down at my sweet boy, I discovered that his Huggies weren’t doing their job. Oozing down the front of my skirt was bright yellow you know what. How long had I walked around the mall with mustard-colored doodee rolling down my skirt? Good times.

By the time number five was mobile, we quickly discovered her need for speed. After numerous attempts to contain her, and out of sheer desperation, we tried one of those “kiddie leashes.” As soon as I clicked the final buckle she went crazy like a wild stallion that refused to be saddled. It was like something out of the movies. You would think I had the “kid who was raised by orangutans,” out in public for the first time. We never used the leash again.

One of the most memorable and least favorite occasions involved the seven of us venturing out to a mega mall. What kind of desolation drives a mother to consider such an outing into the Twilight Zone? My last lucid memory involved paying for some socks at Sears. I turned around to find myself standing there… alone. My family had gone, vanished, disappeared. I scouted around the general vicinity and found not so much as a cookie crumb to follow. I walked out into the mall…no family. Where could a man and five small children disappear to so fast?  I had them paged. No answer. I walked through the mall. No family. I walked back to Sears. No family. Where did my husband and kids go?

In hindsight, I should have taken advantage of the situation and shopped til I dropped, but for some unknown reason I hyper-focused on finding my lost family. I looked around to see if I was a part of some Candid Camera moment. Was there a hidden camera located just behind the kiosk? Frankly, it would have been pretty embarrassing when instead of laughing it all off, I killed my husband on live TV. Could aliens have transported them to the mothership? For over two hours I searched the mall for my family. You could have fried an egg on my forehead.  This was something right out of the X-Files.

Finally, as I made my twelfth lap and looked down from the highest level of the mall, I recognized the outline of my family quietly playing below. If my eyes had been laser beams, my husband would have a hole in his head to this very day. I would love to tell you that we ran toward eachother in slow motion and embraced for what seemed like an eternity…Not!  Suffice it to say, we rode home in icy silence as mommy vowed to never enter a mall again before the children reached puberty. I am totally convinced that the person, who conceived the idea of a cell phone, must have had a similar experience.

You see it all boils down to this…good communication. My husband swears he told me he was taking the kids out into the mall. “Did I make eye contact with you?” I asked. “No,” he responded. “Did I say okay or acknowledge you in anyway?” “No,” he stated. Therein lies the problem for many misunderstandings that have plagued humanity over the course of history…telling mommy something when she is clearly engaged in other tasks.

The lesson I learned the hard way is this; hire a babysitter when I want to shop, display photos instead of babies, and leashes are best used on husbands, so no one inadvertently wanders off.