birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Near Panic

Once, I forgot where my infant daughter was. My husband, toddler son, and daughter had all joined my parents for a week during the summer. At that time my parents spent their summers cruising on their classic wooden yacht in the San Juan Islands. To join them for a week was glorious luxury. To join them with very young children was fraught. I was still in a sleep deprived phase of motherhood. Watching two inquisitive children while always around water had raised my alert status to ever-red. I was strung pretty tightly while on the trip of dreams.

That day we had arrived at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island where the summer cruising community gathered annually for a boat show and crab boil. To make the most of it we were there a day early and we had spent that day wandering on shore. In the afternoon we had taken advantage of the marina showers. Now we were all six of us settled back on board with appetizers, wine – or a sippy cup depending on your age. As we relaxed in the saloon of the yacht (which also housed the galley and the ship’s wheel – it really wasn’t very big), I began to look around for my daughter. She could crawl – or scooch at that point in her young life. I scanned the cabin where we relaxed – no scooching girl. I looked down below decks – no curious crawler joining my son with his Legos. Starting to feel panic I interrupted the conversation, “Has anyone seen E----?” I said too loudly. Everyone’s eyes pivoted and fixed on me in confusion – not at all the response I expected.

“What?” my mother exclaimed, always ready for alarm and matching my anxiety.

“Are you serious?” my husband asked, bemused but not concerned.

“Yes! I haven’t seen her!” I exclaimed.

“Look down,” he said, calmly.

There she was, on my lap, looking up at me with interest at my animation, as she nursed.

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