Parents: Read this.

On Thursday evening, I was with my 4-year-old son, Jacob, at the supermarket. He was tagging along beside the cart. When we reached the salad bar, I turned away for maybe 10 seconds in order to gather ingredients. When I turned back, Jacob was gone. Nowhere to be seen.

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If you’ve never had kids, you couldn’t possibly understand the sheer euphoria I felt in that moment.

While I frantically searched the area for any sign of Jacob, I remember one question above all others dominating my thoughts: Is he really gone? Gone from my life forever? The pain, all the responsibility, and the tedium of caring for a child, vanished in just one careless moment?

I started checking every aisle, just to confirm to myself that he really had disappeared. In my blind ecstasy, it was hard to think clearly. I felt myself concocting 6,000 different scenarios at once: What would happen when I told my husband I lost him? Would we finally be able to go back to normal, back to how we were before?

No words I write here could ever capture how blissful those five minutes felt.

Adrenaline coursing through me, I then remembered the last conversation I’d had with Jacob, in the car on the way over, with him just whining on and on about something, apparently incapable of shutting up for even one minute. It was every parent’s worst nightmare, and suddenly I was free of it.

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I can’t say how my face looked during those five minutes before Jacob reappeared from behind the other side of the salad bar. I can only assume I wore an expression of the purest, most honest joy. I may have even been laughing.

But no words I write here could ever capture how blissful those five minutes felt. Indescribable. Losing your child in a public place is something no parent should miss out on, because no matter how well you think you’re prepared for it, you’re not.

You’re just not.

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