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576 || The Day My Children Disappeared

I lay down with my children for an afternoon nap. When I woke, it was night, and my children were gone.

I have suffered debilitating migraines most of my life, and they only got worse as I aged. When our three boys were small, I usually managed to plow through somehow. But there was that one time I utterly failed to function.

When my husband and I first went to Hong Kong as missionaries, we thought we had all the bases covered — learn the language and culture, establish churches, plus teaching and discipleship training. One thing we overlooked turned out to be a biggie: When Mom’s sick, who watches the children? 

Mommy Needs a Nap 

The boys were around ages 1, 3 and 7; I remember the youngest was still in a crib. I’d had a headache for about three days, and it was finally beginning to pass. Now, the thing about migraines is while one is raging, you don’t sleep. At all. Not even after chasing after three boys all day. So, three days of sleep deprivation were finally coming to an end. 

After lunch, I put the boys down for their naps. The 7-year-old was no longer napping, but I asked him to lie on his bed and read until his brothers woke up. Then I lay down for a nap, thinking I’d get up feeling better. 

No Headache — No Kids

When I finally woke up, the headache was completely gone. So were my kids. 

I had lain down in the middle of the afternoon. When I got up, it was dark outside. It took me less than a minute to ascertain that nowhere in our 400 sq. ft. apartment were my children hiding. We live on the ninth floor of a 33-floor building, so they weren’t in the back yard. 

I was understandably frantic. Even if the eldest had gotten his baby brother out of the crib, I just couldn’t see him changing a diaper, much less the baby letting him try. 

Where were my children?

The eldest might have taken his brothers downstairs, whether he changed a diaper or not. Our usual daily routine after naps was to play at the park with a crowd of kids. A close friend was usually there with her four kids. We were auntie to each other’s kids, and the children looked forward to their afternoons together. But my boys had no keys, and mine were still in my bag. And surely my friend would have tried to check on me if the boys had shown up without me.

It was possible their dad had called home and been told Mommy wouldn’t wake up. I could see Dad canceling his evening classes and rushing home, but I couldn’t see him just taking the kids away without at least leaving a note. 

There was no note anywhere in the house. 

It might have taken a whole minute for me to run through these and other scenarios before rushing to the phone. 

Who You Gonna Call?

But now, who to call? My husband? If he was at school, he would be in the middle of class and would not answer. The police? What could I tell them? And where could they look? Who else was there to call? 

Before I could decide, the door bell rang. And when I opened the door, standing there were all three boys with my good friend. 

The Rest of the Story

Apparently, when the two younger boys woke up and I did not, my eldest got a bit concerned. Showing presence of mind, he came into my room and tried to wake me. Failing to get me up, he asked me if he should call Auntie. He thought I told him yes, even though I have no memory of him asking.

Fortunately,  Auntie was still home when he called. She came over, saw the situation, and told me she was taking the boys to her house for the afternoon. This, too, I do not remember. 

My boys played with their friends all afternoon. Then Auntie gave them supper and baths before bringing them home. 

As I gratefully tucked my children into bed for the night, I thought of what Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 19:29. “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” 

With my own family on the opposite side of the world, God provided just the sister I needed.

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