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The World's Worst Mother

By Karen Collum - 11th August 2010

I'm sitting down to write with the tears of guilt still wet on my cheeks and the sinking stone of fear still filling my stomach. This afternoon the unimaginable happened.

My husband and eldest son were out, so my two-year-old twins and I decided to pay our lovely neighbours a visit. We walked through the gate between our one-acre properties and hopped, skipped and jumped our way down to the house. The boys had a wonderful hour playing in the neighbour's yard while I chatted with my neighbour and her daughter. Throughout the time I kept tabs on where the boys were playing and got up to check their whereabouts if they disappeared out of sight for too long.

When the sun dipped low and the cool evening breeze whispered through the trees, I checked on the boys once more to find them happily playing with sticks up near the fence. I wandered back down to my neighbour's house intending to say my goodbyes and head home. I chatted for what felt like two or three minutes longer, although truth be told it may have actually been six or seven, and then I went to find the boys. They were gone.

The gate between our properties was still open, so I quickly walked through, calling their names. They had probably just wandered home. I couldn't see them but didn't panic yet. Perhaps they were down playing on the trampoline or in the sandpit near the house. I trotted down the hill to the house and that's when I saw it: the sliding glass door to the garage was open, the garage doors were up and I knew for certain the front gate was open. I began to run.

Sprinting through the garage I saw a terrifying sight. At the end of our long, sloping driveway, out across the road on the opposite nature strip sat two little bikes. My babies had crossed the road on their own and were still nowhere in sight.  I flew down the driveway and across the road, screaming my boys'  names. Half a second later I heard a little voice from my right call, "Mummy, puppy!" My twins were standing with noses pressed against a neighbour's fence, mesmerized by a little yapping puppy. They were blissfully unaware of the danger they were in. I, on the other hand, was all too aware.

I grabbed a chubby little hand in each of mine and walked the boys across the road conscious of nothing but the pounding of my own heart and a whispered prayer of thanks echoing through my mind. And once the boys were safely inside the gate, I began to cry. While in my care, my beloved two-year-old twins had been unsupervised long enough to toddle home, take their bikes from under the patio, ride through the garage, down the hill, across the road and visit the puppy next door. I was the world's worst mother.

A few hours have now passed, and although I'm still shaken I'm thankful for the wake-up call I received today. I know some families don't get a second chance like I have. And I've also had time to realise that although it feels like it, I am not in fact the world's worst mother. I'm far from perfect, and I certainly let myself and my kids down today, but there's a big difference between the world's worst mother and me. If I really was the world's worst mother I wouldn't be filled with guilt, I wouldn't still be on the verge of tears and I wouldn't feel so utterly, utterly terrible.  

What I am, however, is an imperfect, completely human, fallible mother who got distracted, made a terrible mistake and has been given a second chance. I'm grabbing that second chance with both hands and have already made plans to modify the sliding door so access through the garage is impossible from the backyard. I'm also going to keep a closer eye on my kids regardless of how captivating the conversation. I am humbled to my very core, terribly embarrassed and am fully aware the situation could have ended in tragedy. My guilt is going to be put to good use in ensuring the situation never happens again. Under the circumstances, as inadequate as that sounds, it's the best I can do.

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Comments (1)

MLDB's picture

It happens so quickly, don't

It happens so quickly, don't feel so guilty though it is normal to do so. I am glad all was ok. You are right about that utterly terrible feeling . I can't imagine your terror or guilt but it resonates loudly within me. Putting your guilt aside and focusing on the ways to prevent further occurances is the best idea.

This happened to me ...(not just once) when my twin boys were about same age and even older !
I was otherwise occupied and as soon I noticed them gone, I yelled for them around the house inside/out. I have a hearing porblem and can't hear which direction , still they didn't answer as they often did/do ...
I raced out the closed front door and I saw them near the end of our long approx 75m driveway (battleaxe) on their toddler bikes and I could see the school traffic whizzing past & the buses parked unusually across the road. I pleaded with them to stop ...they were smiling and advancing forward.
My older teenage son had left the gate open that time and the padlock off ...still I hadn't checked on them closely enough.

A time earlier, I heard the 'silence' as I noticed the front door open. Half way down the drive a lady was bringing one back up with her toddler daughter in tow ...she had stopped her car , taken her own daughter out to bring him back. I felt so bad and so guilty .... the look she gave me.

They are smarter now and can outwit me, they hide now purposely and the number of times I have been frantically looking for them ... even when the door /gate has been closed/locked.

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