I was rocked to the core when I read about the 17-year-old girl, abducted and eventually murdered in a botched robbery. The part that shook me so much was that she'd actually called her parents during it, and they had no way of knowing what was happening to her.
My oldest daughter calls or texts me every day to tell me that she's safely on her way to her after-school program, and I've relied on those calls for my own reassurance. Now I'm questioning that reassurance. It was so much easier when my biggest worry was whether or not they were properly buckled in the car seat!
Like most mothers, I try to see through to the end. If I let my daughter do x, then what are all the possible ys? At the same time, as a single, working mother (heck, as a human), I have limits to how many of those variables I can actually control. I simply cannot pick my daughters up every day after school. I've found programs that I trust to handle their transportation and activities between school and the time I can pick them up from work. And I've felt comfortable with those.
I've talked to the girls about other people picking them up. They know who is allowed at all times, and who is never allowed. Their father has not met the conditions for visitation, so he is never allowed to pick them up. I've told them that if anyone, even people they know, show up and say, "hey, your mother said I should pick you up today" that only someone with a secret code word would actually be telling the truth. The girls know the code word.
Last night, we picked a code word to signal danger in the event that something like what happened to that girl was happening to them. I told them that if I heard that word, I would act like I didn't know what was going on and immediately call the police.
I've added ICE (in case of emergency) contact info to my oldest daughter's cell phone. I've also added the local police department and poison control to both our phones.
My oldest daughter (in 7th grade) has already asked why she can't just go home after school. Some of her friends are already doing it, but I'm just not comfortable with that. Her routine now, even if someone was watching, shows that she's always with someone. I don't want someone to be able to watch her go home alone every day. I've tried to explain that it's not that I don't trust her, I just don't trust anyone else!
I remember thinking that my mother was strict when I was growing up. She always had to know where I was going, who I'd be with, when I'd be home, and how I'd be getting home. Now, it seems inconceivable to me to know anything less of my own daughters' whereabouts. I've told my girls that I'm totally okay with being the strict mom, or even the meanest mom.
I know that I can't control everything in their lives. I know that it will get harder the older they get. I know that my main job as their mother is to develop them into mature, independent beings. Still, I can only do that if I know where they are at all times.
Originally posted on LA Moms.