The parenting fail that brought me to tears

Parenting fail – the ‘what ifs’
“We all make mistakes”. Yes apparently, that’s everyone but ME. I don’t make mistakes.

Recently, we had our own little scare/ parenting fail that did, and continues to, bring me to tears at the mere thought.
My two cherubs are being raised with a good balance of helicopter parenting and the freedom to learn and work things out for themselves.
For example, Mr 20 months can climb all sorts of play equipment (as long as we’re there with arms at the ready should he suddenly lose balance) and, because he was given the opportunity and freedom to practice, he has, for a long time, been able to confidently seat himself on the swings in our backyard and hold on well while being pushed.
When it comes to safety and/ or possible dangers or threats, I’m super vigilant.
I’m an informed parent and am aware of, and enjoy learning more about, car seat safety/the benefits of extended rear-facing (or at least not turning a child til they’re the correct and legal weight and age), introducing solids at around six months (and the dangers of, and lack of education regarding the too-early introduction), SIDS and cot death risks (no pillows or hats of any type to be in a newborn’s bed/ correct sleep positioning and supervision) and many many more.
I’ve always been careful when it comes to toddlers or kids and bath time – they’re NEVER to be left unsupervised - even for a split second. Why would you risk it?!

If I’ve been out with the kids, I’ll load them into their car seats, start the car up to get the air-conditioning going and then always, I repeat ALWAYS, wind down the driver’s window (so I can at least get my arm in), so if, by chance, the car managed to lock itself while I’m putting the pram in the boot, my kids won’t be locked in the car.
It’s a habit that just comes as second nature to me. (On second thoughts, perhaps I should re-assess this method in case we were ever to be car-jacked?!)
You name it, I'm pretty much all over it and can admittedly be horrified and a tad judgemental when I see horrible examples of carelessness or ignorance – especially on Facebook ‘Mommy’ pages.
I’ve heard some horror stories (from people I know in real life):
Like the time a new mum was recounting to our mother's group how she was placing her newborn in a Baby Bjorn while standing in her lounge room, for bub to slip right through and land, splat, on the tiled floor. Thankfully bub was fine.
I just could never imagine ever doing something like that! (For the record, we'd always stand over the bed while putting bub in a Bjorn to provide a softer landing surface if bub ever did happen to fall).
Or the mum who left bub unattended on a change table for bub to then wriggle off.
I’ll always remember the email a friend kindly sent me when I was pregnant with my first that was jam-packed full of her own personal parenting tips.
One of her main tips was to NEVER leave a child unattended on change table even for a second.
This is something that has stuck with me as I’d never be able to forgive myself if something happened.
Or the friend who changed bub’s nappy in the boot of the car but bent down to pick up a dropped item at the precise moment bub worked out how to wriggle away and fell onto the ground.
Of course accidents can and do happen.
When my babies were newborns I tried to ensure people sanitised their hands before touching/holding my precious cargo and would steer clear of anyone who had the slightest stench of nicotine on them.
I'd watch like a hawk to ensure bub's head was being appropriately supported - if not, I'd try and offer words of encouragement/ reminders before getting my bub back into my safe arms.
Maybe I was/am slightly OTT but, hey, my kids are the most precious things in the world to me, so why wouldn’t I want to take every step to ensure their safety/health?!
So with that all in mind, this post is hard for me to write…

I should've known my lil son is 'an adventurer' just like I was.
Apparently, when I was a toddler back in the 80’s, I managed to let myself out of the house early one morning and made my way next door – wearing only a nappy – where I let myself in to the neighbour's house as an uninvited breakfast guest (leaving a trail of muddy footprints) before being retrieved by my mum.
Recently, in the countdown to our twins’ arrival, hubby and I decided to knuckle down and finalise some jobs on our to do list.
Hubby had just finished a midnight-9am shift, was still unwell after having been off sick, and was focussed on vacuuming out the car and installing the newborn capsules for the twins.

The car motor was on and the aircon was cranking.
As the motor was on, the one-sided garage door (open-ended carport the other side) was opened slightly, to allow for any fumes to escape/fresh air to circulate.
Mr 20 months had been swapping from inside and out and wanted to be out with daddy, so I called out to hubby who - I thought - acknowledged lil man was to be in his presence.

Hubby was busy vacuuming the car and I watched as Mr 20 months toddled to the car to be with him.
I popped inside and Miss 3 and I put on another load of washing.

I went back outside to check on hubby’s progress and asked hubby where Mr 20 months was.
Before he even replied, I immediately ran out the front, knowing that the garage was open and our little adventurer must have escaped.
I screamed at hubby to check our backyard and hoped our son was just playing on the swings as he usually is.
I ran out into the middle of our little cul-de-sac and called out to my precious boy while hoping hubby would yell out that I was overreacting and that our son was happily playing in the backyard like usual.

But no.
As I frantically waddled up the street, I noticed, about four houses up, a lady standing on her front lawn, holding our precious son on her hip.
She saw/ heard me burst into tears as I started waddling to her at a record pace to scoop my son from the safety of her arms.
I was so relieved, but also extremely upset and embarrassed that a momentary act of complacency could've caused our son harm.
The lady said she heard him at the front of her place where he stayed put (probably frightened of getting more prickly things in his tender feet). Thank god for bindis.
Between my tears and attempts to stop myself from breaking down into a full on sob, Mr 20 months was back in my arms and I kissed him repeatedly, while managing to, only just, get the words out to thank the kind neighbour.
Hubby had, by that stage, realised our son was not in our backyard and had raced down the road to be reunited with our baby.
As we walked back to our home, and promptly shut the garage (!) and turned off the car motor, the ‘what ifs’ started flowing.
And I still can't get the whole thing out of my head.

-- What if he made it to the end of the street (two more houses) where the road is hilly, there's a bend, and a motorist simply would not see him?
-- What if a car was unknowingly reversing out of their driveway while our lil adventurer was toddling along our usually-quiet street?
-- What if our elderly neighbour, who arrived home pulling into their driveway just moments later, hit him at that moment he stepped away from the kerb?
-- What if he made it into someone's backyard and they had a dangerous dog/ equipment within reach?
This incident was a heart breaking wake up call.

Just when you think you’ve got it all covered, something like this happens to remind you…YOU DON’T.
Hubby and I usually communicate well:
'Have you got Miss 3?'
'Yes' (always making sure to get a response so we know who's in charge).
But this time, our usually fail-proof process FAILED.
Thank goodness our son is OK.
Just days before this incident, I stumbled across a blog where a grieving mother recounted her last day with her little toddler who was killed in an unidentified accident (at home).
And days before that, was brought to tears when I heard the story about the boy, a similar age to my son, who was tragically hit by a garbage truck.
My heart ached, and still does, for those families who have lost their precious angels.

And to think, that in an instant, something just as tragic could have happened to us just makes my heart stop.
Miss 3 has even asked me a few times, ‘’Mummy why were you so sad when ‘Mr 20 months’ went for a walk without holding anyone's hand?’’
I know it may all sound overly dramatic. But how can you ignore the what ifs, when they were real possibilities?
Thank goodness our precious boy is OK.
There’s no room for complacency. I'm back to being a helicopter mum.

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  1. Oh hunny, it's freaky isn't it - that has happened to me and luckily he didn't get far, well I should say it happened to my boy when hubby thought I had him and I thought he had him. Try not to do the what ifs, they are soul destroying. We had a pool incident over the weekend, I'm still freaked out by it, but it's made me realise that being a helicopter mum has its advantages. I hope you didn't have to wait too much longer than 2.5 hours today (Wed) . xxx

    1. Thanks Em! Glad to hear everything's OK.
      Yes I'm sure it's something that we'll laugh about in the years to come, but at the moment it just upsets me still.
      Oh, the hosital wait was joyous - I was there from 9am-2pm! Dammit. Oh well, can't complain for free healthcare. :-)

  2. I think we all have had those moments at some point - I know I have with my son (now 12) - losing him at a zoo, at night, when a toddler, still gives me shivers.

    1. OMG how scary! Yes I guess there are plenty more incidents to come :-(

  3. So relieved to read that your little man is ok. And hopefully you are too...those awful 'what ifs' are no fun at all after a frightening incident :(

  4. Oh hun, I don't think there's a parent out there who can't relate to that sickening, pit-in-the-bottom-of-your-stomach fear. I've lost Miss 5 twice, the second time was at the zoo and I was a mess, meanwhile she was in with the zoo volunteers having a great old time and when she realised I was upset, she said 'Why are you crying Mummy, you always find me."

    1. That's so cute! Yes it's horrible isn't it! I can remember when my sisters and I used to hide in the clothes racks at Target/Kmart when we were little to hide from each other or Mum. Poor Mum.

  5. Every parent has these 'fail' moments. It's terrifying and you feel like the worst parent on earth, but kids are SO quick and SO curious things are bound to happen. You just have to thank your lucky stars each time there's a good outcome! Mine have been lost in shops, stepped in front of cars - the list goes on. And I'm a bit of a helicopter myself, but it still happens. I hope you feel better for getting it off your chest and knowing you're not alone!

  6. I know I was always quick to judge before I had children and now, accidents can happen so quickly. So glad to hear your little man was safe. I have had my daughter lost in Kmart before. She was promptly found by one of the staff and while I was having heart palpitations, my daughter had a huge smile showing me a ball she had found. Kids don't see or fear danger but as parents, we need to be so vigilant when they are little to protect them but again easy said than done.

    1. So true. I can remember my sisters and I used to hide in the clothes racks at Target/Kmart when we were little to hide from each other or Mum. Poor Mum.

  7. That must of been so scary! Don't beat yourself up too bad though! It happens to the best of us!! Years ago when my youngest brother was just a tot (he's 24 now) my WHOLE family was standing at a busy busy intersection waiting to cross the street with a bunch of other people. Well, somewhere in the process, my brother got mixed up and ended up crossing the street adjacent to us with a different group of people that were standing nearby. We didn't notice until the rest of my family had safely crossed the original street we were waiting at. My mom freaked and spent about 5 minutes looking inside every nearby store. We finally spotted my brother across the street standing on a corner looking lost. We just thank God he didn't try to cross that intersection alone!!!


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