Let’s talk about today, and the dreaded ‘what if?’

Let’s talk about today. I’d rather not, I mean, it’s not the pinnacle of my parenting life. But who wants just the rose-tinted edit of being a Mum? 

Today. Today we went to the park. We saw friends. We laughed. We talked. They raced around and swung on swings and slid down slides. The sun was shining, the birds were singing. It was a pretty perfect moment in time. But then, it’s always in these perfect moments that the little slips happen isn’t it?

The park is gated, within a playing field which leads onto a road. Between the field and the road there is a black wrought iron fence, with a gate that has a sliding bolt on it. It’s secure. It’s safe. It’s the kind of place where for a moment you let your guard down and that’s when the what if’s happen. 

We had left the park, Ev and his friend were running gleefully across the field towards the exit gate and my friend and I were following closely behind. As Ev approached the gate I called for him to stop. But he’s been experiencing a sudden onslaught of selective hearing recently and, low and behold, he continued to bound to the gate. Reaching it, where he’d usually wait the few seconds for me to catch up, he started to slide the bolt. I heard the clink. I saw the gate open even before I could finish my cry of “DON’T OPEN THE GATE!” and I saw him starting to run, towards the road. 

I don’t think I have ever been more terrified in my life. I could see his little feet stepping through the gate. I could see cars whizzing past on the road. And as I screamed “STOP!”, and my own legs ran towards him, it felt like time itself was standing still. 

My heart leapt into my throat and I watched in horror, then relief, as Ev came to a complete and utter standstill. A second after his feet stopped on the pavement just inches from the gate, a car blared past on the road ahead. And, as I hugged him and scolded and praised him all in one go, I felt the dread and fear of the ‘what if’. 

My hands shook and my heart pounded for the entirety of our walk home. And the ‘what if’ has hung over me like a black cloud all day. What if he’d chosen to ignore me? What if he didn’t stop? What if I hadn’t been that close to him? What if, today, the unthinkable had happened on a perfect sunny day?

I have cried. I have scolded myself for not making him hold my hand across the field. For somehow failing as a mother because he doesn’t always listen to me. And I have had to face again what I already knew; I’m not a perfect mother. And I can berate myself for eternity, or I can hold my hands up and say “today was not the best of days, but I’m beyond grateful it wasn’t the worst”. 

Tonight I’ve hugged my little Ev that bit tighter. I’ve kissed him just those few times more. I’ve promised myself to try to box away the what if’s. And to be grateful that’s all they are. 

I’ve battled with the fear of typing this, the fear of being judged, and decided that actually posts like this are what this blog is for. Because there’s probably another Mum or Dad sat there tonight with the ‘what if’ black cloud. Who’d feel even a tiny bit better to know they’re not the only one. If it’s you, I see you. Today was a bad day. Chalk it down to experience and know that tomorrow will be better.  

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Paul
    05/20/2019 at 8:14 pm

    Instead of beating yourself up and thinking only of the negative “what ifs” think about the “positive what’s” also! Yes the little man did run, yes the little man did over step that boundary, yes that little dude pushed it to your limit BUT there are positives in there too, little Ev was confident, was enjoying life, adventurous and clearly happy with what he was doing. How did he know to stop at the road, how did he identify the danger? That comes from the world of parenting. You must at some point embedded qualities into him that showed in his confidence and adventurous nature, you must have helped him identify the danger. As parents we tend to only worry about the bad stuff and don’t necessarily see the positive impact we have had on our children. I see this everyday in Leoni, she constantly wonders why our little buggers push the boundaries so I try to remind her that they see the outgoing, fun adventurous nature she has and they follow on. There are no perfect parents, if there was we would have been perfect children ourselves!

    • Reply
      Helly
      05/20/2019 at 8:59 pm

      Thank you Paul, that’s so true!

  • Reply
    Gemma
    05/21/2019 at 10:40 am

    I really enjoy your posts Helly, and you’re clearly a wonderful mother. Love your writing and your openness, so don’t ever hesitate to post the good, bad and the ugly…. all parents have been there and if they say otherwise they are lying! The way I see it with judgmental people is that they are fully entitled to their opinion….. and I am fully entitled to ignore it! 😉💪🏻 Glad it was all ok. Hope you have a lovely afternoon. X

    • Reply
      Helly
      05/21/2019 at 6:04 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words Gemma, you are absolutely right. I expect it’s mostly my own insecurity worrying about what people think as I have been so touched by how lovely everyone has been about this latest debacle! How true that we’ve all been there ❤️ Xxx

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