I lost my child

I’m a Bad Mother – I lost my Child at the Shopping Mall

Yes I have heard so many people saying that they lost their child at the shopping mall or even at the beach and I always thought “oh that must feel awful” right?

That is until it happens to you and this did happen to me recently. Ok not that recently, it was over a month ago but I can only now think about it without my heart pounding like mad and bursting into tears.

I am not a bad mother, really I am not and yes sometimes I may think I am because I perhaps feed my kids too many chips on occasion or let them watch too much TV and yes often I am a grumpy bear and I moan and groan when they are too noisy.

But like seriously a mom that loses her kid for twenty minutes in a quiet and empty mall? That is not how I see myself.

I always see young kids walking around the streets with no adult supervision and I wonder where on earth these kids parents are. A four year old should not be out and about on his or her own in my opinion.

So here’s the thing. I don’t let my kids out of my sight. They don’t even go play at a friends house without me. Birthday parties? Mommy goes with. School outing? Here comes mommy, I’m ready to go too.

My kids are at play school, they are with me or they are with my hubby. Occasionally they are with one of their grandparents. They have never been without very close supervision.

I am a super paranoid mother and I can’t just turn that off.

So how did I lose my kid in a shopping mall? I’ll tell you how, right in front of my face.

It was so scary and it happened so fast that I was almost immobilized from the shock of it. My four year old daughter was skipping along a few meters in front of me and my two year old son was in my arms. A lady in an open shop in front of us smiled at my daughter skipping, I caught her eye and smiled at her. I looked back down, in between us and my daughter was gone.

I said to the lady, where is my child and she pointed into thin air and was about to say “right there” when she saw nothing. I turned around me and looked and the mall was deserted, completely deserted except for the shops and staff.

One moment we were walking along, all happy and fine and in the blink of an eye I was in my worst nightmare. My daughter had never run off before. In fact she was always so damn close that it irritated me, I was always tripping over her.

I must have looked strange because I was turning around in a circle looking at my feet, lifting my feet up because she had to be there right? She had to be under my feet.

I took another turn around me and I wanted to just crumple into a ball on the floor and give up because in all honesty I thought she had been snatched, she must have been snatched.

I was in the twilight zone. It felt like I was not in control of anything, my world was spinning. I didn’t know where to go first. I ran to the closest exit and into the parking lot trying to see if someone had my child. I was peering into cars thinking this just can’t be happening.

Second guessing my every move, I should have gone to security first right? They would have gotten all of security on the radio and all entrances would be checked quicker but I stop myself from moving away from that closest exit and away from where I was convinced someone was trying to escape with my baby girl.

I went back into the shopping mall and I went into the Crazy Store, she must be in there… Barbie is in the front window. The shop looked empty and I asked the lady at the front where my daughter was. She must have seen the crazy look in my eye because quite frankly she looked nervous and said she hasn’t seen my girl.

I walked out that shop and into the middle of the mall and I promise you if felt like the shops where spinning around me. I took a step towards the parking lot and stopped. I took a step to walk towards the center management and stopped.

I walked back into the Crazy Store and I told the lady my daughter has to be in there, Barbie is there! She said my girl is definitely not in there and turned away from me, a crazy person.

The feeling of helplessness and fear was now consuming me. A woman walked up to me and said to me “You are missing a girl?”. Something tells me it was written all over me. I said yes, please where is she.

The woman told me she found my daughter running alone down the mall and into the shop with the rides in, so she took her to center management. I can’t even remember if I thanked that woman or not. If I didn’t, please know from the bottom of my heart that I do thank you and I am sorry for not taking the time to show my gratitude.

It felt like forever to walk the short distance to center management to make sure it was my little girl. I got there and I saw her sitting happy as can be without a worry in the world and I lost it completely.

I don’t know what came out of my mouth but the smile was wiped off her beautiful face so fast. Then I did what my body and mind had been fighting to do since the moment she vanished. I sat down on the floor and I cried like a baby. I cried buckets and I wailed.

When I opened my eyes my two children were looking at me like they have never looked at me before. There was shock that hey mommy can also cry like a baby on the floor in the mall but there was also something else too that scared my children. Something big has gone down that they don’t understand.

I was a mess. I got to the car and called my husband in tears and then I managed to pull myself together enough to get us home, crying all the way.

What happened that day was without a doubt the scariest thing I have ever been through in my entire life. Just remember too that I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict so I have been in some pretty hairy situations before, but none of those even came close to the fear I felt when I thought my girl was taken from me.

I couldn’t go out anywhere with my kids for a week after that. They went to play school and straight home.

I still can’t figure out how it happened. How did my daughter get away so fast without me seeing her?

I saw her, she was gone and I turned around. There is just no way she could have run away so fast.

No matter, but it did happen and it has made me realize that yes I might have been vigilant but when it came to the crunch it was not good enough.

I had one mother tell me I must put my kids in the trolley and I got angry and upset because we were walking into the mall, we had not even gotten to the trolleys when this happened. But that makes me realize how vigilant I must be.

I know have a new rule. My kids are at home, they are buckled in the car, they are at play school or a safe enclosed environment. If they are not in one of those places they are holding my hands or they are in a trolley.

I explained this to them and at first they were not too happy but I told it like it is. If you don’t do that we really don’t need to go to the shop, then we go home and wait for their father so they can stay at home with him while I go shopping.

My heart goes out to any parent that has lost a child, either a child that has passed away or gone missing. I only tasted twenty minutes of fear so I can’t even imagine what you went through or are going through at this moment.

To all moms, please be careful and extra vigilant. I am not kidding when I say how fast this happened to me and I promise you I have always been vigilant.

Hold onto your little ones!

Have you ever lost a child? In a shopping mall or at the beach? Share your experience in the comments.




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  1. I have a very active 3.5yr old. I try as far as possible to get him into the trolley as soon as i can. it’s not always easy, kids have minds of their own sometimes. But after many shopping days filled with tears, we’ve not gotten into a system where he holds my hand till we can grab a trolley, then it’s in the trolley with him.
    It makes it a bit easier when i explain to him that mommy has to watch him and his baby brother.
    i feel your pain. and i’m glad that it ended well for you.
    and you are not a bad mommy

    • Thanks Cashiefa! I have the hand holding policy now. Both kids have to hold my hand from the car to the trolley. It makes it a little tricky having a nearly 5 year old inside the trolley, so I can’t do any big shops and getting eggs is out of the question LOL. But it is a much better arrangement!

  2. Wow this is so scary! I lost my boy once in Ackermans in the mall and I was with my mother! We literally took our eyes off him for a second and he was gone. I ran to every entrance of that shop and shouted his name. I started panicking and shaking when he didn’t come running when I called for him and as I was about to lose my mind, I see him playing peacefully near the tills. I was so angry and relieved at the same time! Now I also put him in the trolley although he doesn’t like it. I bring with one of his favorite toys to keep him busy or a snack while his in there so I have no worries. It is just the WORST feeling in the entire world and I felt like the worst parent at the time.

    • I am so sorry you have also had to experience that Nicole. It is such an awful experience and unless you have been there I don’t think you can know how hectic it is.

      I am so glad your experience also turned out fine!

  3. You are not a bad mommy, kids are quick and more interested in what’s going on in front of them than they are what’s behind them. We once lost my oldest niece from our own backyard and there were 15 people there. Everyone in the house thought she was outside with her father and grandfather and they thought she was in the house with us. Talk about mass panic, an entire crowd of people go rushing from the house and backyard out into the front and there she is walking down the street. She was 4 when this happened. The back gate was never left open again after that. She didn’t understand why everyone was yelling and crying but she also never did it again. Unfortunately no matter how vigilante you are there is going to be at least one time they get away from you.

    • Oh my gosh Michelle, I would have freaked out if that had happened to me. My mom once thought my little sister was missing and we had all the neighbors looking for her. She was about 2 years old and she had crawled under the covers of my moms bed and gone to sleep but you couldn’t see her in there because she was so small!

      I can only imagine how she felt.

      I am so glad you found your girl before she got too far.

  4. O my goodness Lynne.
    My heart stopped while reading this!!!
    So glad that you’ve found her.

    When im in the mall im also paranoid. Checking the pram every 5 seconds to make sure she’s still in there.

    Lynne you’re not a bad mother. It can happen to anyone.
    Thanks for sharing now we can be extra careful!!!

    • Marisca it was awful! Yes please be careful, your baby is in the pram but I had one crazy woman take my daughter out of the pram when she was just a few months old. She was quick as lightening!

      It was in Checkers and I was getting something off the top shelf and when I turned back this older lady had my little baby in her arms cooing at her. I lost my cool and started screaming at her, she couldn’t understand why I freaked out.

  5. I will be extra careful from now on.
    Thanks Lynne. We think that it wont happen to you cause you got your eye on her but in a second your life can change.
    Tx for sharing

  6. Oh God it’s happen to me once in mall were in the shop feeting shoes and my son was eating apple just next to me and in blink of an eye he is gone my heart just freeze the shop have upstairs to down we started looking for him I upstairs other down oh God I find him coming the door is ask ashar where did you go AND HE WAS SO COOL HE SAYS I WAS LOOKING FOR A DUSTBIN TO THROW THE APPLE. oh my God

  7. It happened to me just a week ago. We were at a mall during our holiday. I kept an eye on my 2.5 year old daughter as she was running around, playing hide n seek in between racks of clothes. The final stop was to get a luggage and my husband was handling it while i was keeping an eye on her. Hubs asked me somethinf and i turned away from her for just a second. Immediately felt a sense of utter doom. Where is she?! I turned, dropped my bags and ran. Still did not see her. Finally found her hiding in a row of luggage accessories, peeking out ready to bolt away from me. I ran to her and picked her up. Almost immediately, she realised i was petrified as was her dad. She was out of sight for only 20-30 seconds but those moments, thinking about them now, still gives me anxiety. I have broken down so many times. I feel like i had betrayed her. She is small and fragile. I am not driving myself crazy by reading up about missing kids at the place we had our holiday. If there is a god, he was looking out for me. I am now, really worried that i will lose her again and keep having nightmares.

    • It is a terrifying and awful feeling! Maybe consider getting one of those harnesses or wrist links – it will at least give you peace of mind and keep your little one close.

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