** This post originally written in May 2010**It's been said that when you have children you allow a part of your heart to walk outside of your body. This is very true.
This weekend part of my heart was missing. While visiting my in-laws, who were camping, my son asked if he could walk up to one of the historical cabins in the state park. This particular cabin was across a field and up a small wooded hill. You couldn't see the cabin but you knew it was just up the ridge. And since he's almost the grand age of 10, and I had been an over protective mom all day by not letting him walk across a tree over the raging river, I gave in and let him have his adventure. But first I gave him the speech of not talking to strangers, no getting in cars, trucks, vans, boats, ATVs, or on anyone's horse, and he had to read and memorize one fact from the placard on the cabin to prove that he had actually made it to the cabin. He promised to be safe and to come back unharmed, so off he went. And of course he took the long way around. This was perfect because my husband and I had the devious idea to race across the field, run up the hill, and surprise our son by meeting him at the cabin. And that's what we did . . . kinda. I am not a runner nor is my body equiped for going up a hill at any speed other than snail. Even with my slower pace I arrived at the cabin before my son. My husband and I sat on the old wooden steps laughing with anticipation at our son being shocked to see us. We stopped laughing when we realized he should have been there and yet there was no sight of him. We jumped up, hubby kept telling me that he was ok but probably went back to the campsite. My brain was racing through all the possibilities and that one voice in my head just kept saying "You can't panic yet." We started back tracking down the roads our son should have traveled. I starred down every car that passed thinking "what if they have my son stuck in the trunk, screaming for help!" (yes I watch WAY too much Criminal Minds). We made it almost all the way back to the camp and still no sight of our boy. This was the point where hubby and I made plans to split up and check EVERYWHERE. Luckily, another camper told us he saw our son walking to the bathrooms near the ranger station. That's all I needed to know. I ran through the woods to find my baby. And there he was. Walking happily along the trail, enjoying his freedom, totally oblivious to the panic he caused his parents.When questioned why he never made it to the cabin, he looked confused and said "I did and the sign said Ranger Station." Deep breathe and my heart started beating again.